Although some Religious Right leaders have remained mum on criticizing President Donald J. Trump’s actions, a growing number of conservative evangelical leaders are standing in solidarity with refugees, as a recently published full-page advertisement in The Washington Post indicates.
The Feb. 8 ad, organized by evangelical ministry World Relief, called Trump’s temporary ban on refugees “deeply” concerning. It was signed by 100 evangelical leaders – some notably conservative – including best-selling Christian author Max Lucado, New York preacher Tim Keller and his wife, Kathy Keller, and more.
Although accepting refugees hasn’t historically been considered a partisan issue, Islamophobia has played a role in the recent political divide on this question, since many people seeking refuge in the U.S. are Muslim or come from Muslim-majority countries. The World Relief’s ad comes at a divisive, yet vital, time.
“We consider the refugees in our community some of the most vulnerable among us,” the ministry says on its website. The ministry also noted that more than 500 evangelical pastors and ministry leaders have signed a pro-refugee letter they plan to deliver to Trump.
“As Christians, we have a historic call expressed over two thousand years, to serve the suffering. We cannot abandon this call now,” the letter reads. “Compassion and security can coexist, as they have for decades. For the persecuted and suffering, every day matters; every delay is a crushing blow to hope.”
As the letter notes, U.S. churches have taken part in welcoming refugees, regardless of their religion, since the refugee resettlement program began. This letter will be important given that Trump won the evangelical vote in huge numbers.
Inclusivity in the religious community is important.
Although the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Feb. 9 that Trump’s Muslim ban will remain on hold, Trump is reportedly planning an appeal (or possibly rewriting the order), so the fight is not over. Trump’s executive order, as AU argued in a court brief, clearly targets Muslims and is not constitutionally sound.
Trump’s order suspends accepting Syrian refugees indefinitely and seeks to reduce the quantity of refugees the U.S. accepts.
Catholic leaders in the country have also spoken out against this ban. The Rev. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit, told The Washington Post on Jan. 30 that Catholic leaders don’t agree with Trump’s decision to prioritize Christian refugees over Muslim refugees.
“Any proposal that preferences Christians over Muslims as refugees makes Catholic leaders nervous because it feeds that narrative that this is a war between the Christian West and the Muslims,” Reese said.
World Relief’s letter echoed a similar sentiment.
“While we are eager to welcome persecuted Christians, we also welcome vulnerable Muslims and people of other faiths or no faith at all,” it reads. “This executive order dramatically reduces the overall number of refugees allowed this year, robbing families of hope and a future. And it could well cost them their lives.”
We applaud efforts by religious leaders to stand with refugees and reject religious discrimination. It’s the right thing to do.