GOP and Right-Wing Evangelicals Face Off Against Jesus over Syrian Refugees
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Nov 25, 2015 at 11:22:12 AM EST
In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed more than 120 people and wounded hundreds of others, a number of major conservative Christian evangelical groups have joined 27-+ governors, and Republican Party presidential hopefuls, in demanding that President Obama shut the borders to refugees from Syria, the majority of which are women and children. While Donald Trump's anti-immigrant sound bites are feeding the frenzy against the refugees, and Senator Ted Cruz and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush have called for allowing only Christian refugees into the country, conservative evangelical Christians are finding themselves doing battle with some mainstream Christian organizations supporting the resettlement of Syrian refugees.
In September, President Obama announced that the U.S. would begin taking in refugees from the fighting in Syria, setting the number at about 10,000.

Franklin Graham, the son of the Rev. Billy Graham, and the head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse wrote on his Facebook page shortly after the Paris attacks: "We must reform our immigration policies in the United States. We cannot allow Muslim immigrants to come across our borders unchecked while we are fighting this war on terror."

Graham, who has advocated for an end to Muslim immigration in America, added: "If we continue to allow Muslim immigration, we'll see much more of what happened in Paris--it's on our doorstep. France and Europe are being overrun by young Muslim men from the Middle East, and they do not know their backgrounds or their motives and intentions."

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council issued a statement saying: "Of course, the White House's foolhardy plan should come as no surprise to anyone following this administration's clearly failed foreign policy. Let's not forget: a day before the Paris attacks, the president insisted ISIS had been `contained.' Now, after the bodies of more than 129 innocent people have proven him wrong, he's trying to give radical Islam exactly what it wants: a free path to the United States."

Perkins closed with: "Our nation can be caring and benevolent without unnecessarily endangering our own people. What many forget is that in Scripture, loving the stranger is just one component. God also commands these foreigners to assimilate and keep the laws of the land. As Exodus 12:49 makes clear: `There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.' The United States' goal should be a safe haven for everyone. And that means protecting the refugees' shelter abroad without sacrificing ours at home."

Gary Dull, the Executive Director of the American Pastors Network (APN), recently stated that "It is a serious matter that [Pennsylvania] Gov. [Tom] Wolf is welcoming Syrian refugees into our state with open arms. Yes, as Christians, we are to clothe, feed and care for the poor and the lost, as Jesus commanded. But when it comes to allowing potentially dangerous people with possible evil intentions into our own home, we must think, act and react in a manner that is safest for our nation. Many other governors have already said their states will not be opening their doors to refugees because there is simply no way to know who truly needs asylum and who is evil. There is too much at risk."

Many Christian, who have for years worked tirelessly on issues involving refugees profoundly disagree with Franklin Graham, Tony Perkins, Gary Dull and others.

Matthew Soerens, U.S. director of church mobilization for World Relief, told Christianity Today that, "Jesus was a refugee himself." Soerens added: "The journey Jesus took when fleeing to Egypt as a boy looks a lot like what little Syrian boys and girls have done in the past five years."

Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, vigorously defended the president's refugee initiative: "Of course we want to keep terrorists out of our country, but let's not punish the victims of ISIS for the sins of ISIS." Anderson pointed out that "Our system is designed to keep terrorists out and to help desperate families with little children. We want to help the victims of terrorism in the Middle East, not punish them."

"I'm not surprised to see a rift like this. Groups like the National Association of Evangelicals have always been more moderate on issues like refugee status and our country's interactions with Muslim nations," Rob Boston, Director of Communications for
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, told me in an email. "While I disagree with some of the stands taken by the NAE, I've always thought that organization was closer to the principles of Christianity than people like Franklin Graham and Religious Right groups that preach hate and division."

According to Christianity Today's Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, "The US has resettled 2,184 Syrian refugees since March 2011, when Syria's civil war began. Of those, seven percent have been men between the ages of 21 and 30. The largest age group: children under 14 (43%). Overall, nearly all (96%) have been Muslims (mostly Sunnis), with the 53 Syrian Christians resettled composing only 3 percent."

The Washington Post recently reported that, "Data show Christians are very divided on how to respond to the refugee crisis. A Pew Research Center poll this fall asked Americans' views on the U.S. decision to accept more refugees. It showed 42 percent of Protestants approved while 54 percent disapproved. Fifty-nine percent of Catholics approved while 38 percent disapproved."

When looked at, the numbers of Syrian refugees accepted into this country pales against the number of refugees displaced from their homes, heading towards Europe or stranded in refugee camps outside Syria.

"From what I've seen so far, most Religious Right groups are simply mouthing the latest taking points from the Republican National Committee," Boston added. "There's no nuance or attempt to explain a complex situation. Their statements have all the subtlety of a stick in your eye, which is to be expected since they are designed for partisan ends. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council issued a statement that could have been written by Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee. Perkins' rant is studded with the ignorance and mob mentality that has swept far-right circles in recent days. It may please a peck of GOP governors and tea partiers, but I suspect the founder of the faith Perkins claims to follow, who was something of a refugee after all, might have a different point of view."

The current debate over whether to accept a very small number of Syrian refugees into this country is eerily reminiscent of the ugly tone during the Ebola crisis. One of the first responses conservatives mustered was that the borders of this country should be closed.

As Dana Milbank pointed out in a recent op-ed, "This growing cry to turn away people fleeing for their lives brings to mind the SS St. Louis, the ship of Jewish refugees turned away from Florida in 1939. It's perhaps the ugliest moment in a primary fight that has been sullied by bigotry from the start. It's no exaggeration to call this un-American."

It is difficult to know at this point, whether the rift between various Christian organizations will metastasize even further. I don't see hard-right conservative evangelical organizations - especially those closely aligned with their GOP allies -- pulling back from their positions any time soon.

As we speak it is likely that there are public relations teams and advertising agencies feverishly working to prepare the most cynical and sadistic advertising spots against accepting Syrian refugees. Lies and disinformation will dominate the debate. There will be blood on our screens; headlines will bellow on about the threat of terrorism. The effort will be costly in many ways, but probably most importantly, it will be a serious body blow to decency and morality.




Display:
The obvious response is to show a photo of a Syrian toddler refugee, captioned "(name of politician or evangelist) is afraid of me." Mockery, in other words - as in, get a grip already. If one stops to think, the hard-liners start sounding like silly cowards.

by NancyP on Wed Nov 25, 2015 at 11:06:36 PM EST

This is all part of the anti-Immigrant bigotry that has infected the right for generations... and because of the fanning done by the militant Christian preachers, it's getting hotter and hotter.

I've done studies on the attitudes towards certain groups of immigrants, and this sort of thing has been going on for over a century.  It used to be those horrible Mexicans and Jews and Roman Catholics (and Irish and Chinese and...), and while the Irish are now generally accepted (and the Chinese somewhat so), the dark-skinned Latinos (always assumed to be Mexican if you question close enough) still faced it throughout the last 50 plus years.  The language even back a few decades wasn't too pleasant regarding them.  Even today, if a Jew were to "dress funny" in a way that suggests being Jewish to the bigots, they're likely to experience discrimination and persecution.  The "Jew-hate" is still there, just not fanned up quite as much.

The hostility is especially hot to those who don't assimilate, even if their culture only adds to the reality that is America.

The fact is, America has always been a nation of racists and bigots.  Not all Americans, of course... but it goes back to the time of the Jamestown settlement (classism especially), and the Pilgrims (this has been demonstrated).  I firmly hold that the solution is education - directly shaped to resist and counter bigoted thinking.  I know there are programs today that are very effective in combating racism and bigotry of  all types, H. Roy Kaplan writes of one effective program in his book "Failing Grades".  Racism and bigotry are curable!  We just need to overpower the voices that fan the flames and show that they're not what they claim to be.


by ArchaeoBob on Thu Nov 26, 2015 at 11:59:05 AM EST


Thank you for sharing the post. I learned a lot. instagram search

by tadobre on Sun Jun 10, 2018 at 10:48:16 PM EST
A great exchange of information.
192.168.0.1

by Ivsedelo on Sun Sep 22, 2019 at 06:14:06 PM EST
Parent



WWW Talk To Action


Cognitive Dissonance & Dominionism Denial
There is new research on why people are averse to hearing or learning about the views of ideological opponents. Based on evaluation of five......
By Frederick Clarkson (374 comments)
Will the Air Force Do Anything To Rein In Its Dynamic Duo of Gay-Bashing, Misogynistic Bloggers?
"I always get nervous when I see female pastors/chaplains. Here is why everyone should as well: "First, women are not called to be pastors,......
By Chris Rodda (195 comments)
The Legacy of Big Oil
The media is ablaze with the upcoming publication of David Grann's book, Killers of the Flower Moon. The shocking non fiction account of the......
By wilkyjr (109 comments)
Gimme That Old Time Dominionism Denial
Over the years, I have written a great deal here and in other venues about the explicitly theocratic movement called dominionism -- which has......
By Frederick Clarkson (101 comments)
History Advisor to Members of Congress Completely Twists Jefferson's Words to Support Muslim Ban
Pseudo-historian David Barton, best known for his misquoting of our country's founders to promote the notion that America was founded as a Christian nation,......
By Chris Rodda (113 comments)
"Christian Fighter Pilot" Calls First Lesbian Air Force Academy Commandant a Liar
In a new post on his "Christian Fighter Pilot" blog titled "BGen Kristin Goodwin and the USAFA Honor Code," Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan......
By Chris Rodda (144 comments)
Catholic Right Leader Unapologetic about Call for 'Death to Liberal Professors' -- UPDATED
Today, Donald Trump appointed C-FAM Executive Vice President Lisa Correnti to the US Delegation To UN Commission On Status Of Women. (C-FAM is a......
By Frederick Clarkson (126 comments)
Controlling Information
     Yesterday I listened to Russ Limbaugh.  Rush advised listeners it would be best that they not listen to CNN,MSNBC, ABC, CBS and......
By wilkyjr (117 comments)
Is Bannon Fifth-Columning the Pope?
In December 2016 I wrote about how White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who likes to flash his Catholic credentials when it comes to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (250 comments)
Ross Douthat's Hackery on the Seemingly Incongruous Alliance of Bannon & Burke
Conservative Catholic writer Ross Douthat has dissembled again. This time, in a February 15, 2017 New York Times op-ed titled The Trump Era's Catholic......
By Frank Cocozzelli (63 comments)
`So-Called Patriots' Attack The Rule Of Law
Every so often, right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan lurches out of the far-right fever swamp where he has resided for the past 50 years to......
By Rob Boston (160 comments)
Bad Faith from Focus on the Family
Here is one from the archives, Feb 12, 2011, that serves as a reminder of how deeply disingenuous people can be. Appeals to seek......
By Frederick Clarkson (176 comments)
The Legacy of George Wallace
"One need not accept any of those views to agree that they had appealed to real concerns of real people, not to mindless, unreasoning......
By wilkyjr (59 comments)
Betsy DeVos's Mudsill View of Public Education
My Talk to Action colleague Rachel Tabachnick has been doing yeoman's work in explaining Betsy DeVos's long-term strategy for decimating universal public education. If......
By Frank Cocozzelli (65 comments)
Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
This post from 2011 surfaces important information about President-Elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. -- FC Erik Prince, Brother of Betsy......
By Rachel Tabachnick (218 comments)

Respect for Others? or Political Correctness?
The term "political correctness" as used by Conservatives and Republicans has often puzzled me: what exactly do they mean by it? After reading Chip Berlin's piece here-- http://www.talk2action.org/story/2016/7/21/04356/9417 I thought about what he explained......
MTOLincoln (253 comments)
Fear
What I'm feeling now is fear.  I swear that it seems my nightmares are coming true with this new "president".  I'm also frustrated because so many people are not connecting all the dots! I've......
ArchaeoBob (107 comments)
"America - love it or LEAVE!"
I've been hearing that and similar sentiments fairly frequently in the last few days - far FAR more often than ever before.  Hearing about "consequences for burning the flag (actions) from Trump is chilling!......
ArchaeoBob (211 comments)
"Faked!" Meme
Keep your eyes and ears open for a possible move to try to discredit the people openly opposing Trump and the bigots, especially people who have experienced terrorism from the "Right"  (Christian Terrorism is......
ArchaeoBob (163 comments)
More aggressive proselytizing
My wife told me today of an experience she had this last week, where she was proselytized by a McDonald's employee while in the store. ......
ArchaeoBob (163 comments)
See if you recognize names on this list
This comes from the local newspaper, which was conservative before and took a hard right turn after it was sold. Hint: Sarah Palin's name is on it!  (It's also connected to Trump.) ......
ArchaeoBob (168 comments)
Unions: A Labor Day Discussion
This is a revision of an article which I posted on my personal board and also on Dailykos. I had an interesting discussion on a discussion board concerning Unions. I tried to piece it......
Xulon (156 comments)
Extremely obnoxious protesters at WitchsFest NYC: connected to NAR?
In July of this year, some extremely loud, obnoxious Christian-identified protesters showed up at WitchsFest, an annual Pagan street fair here in NYC.  Here's an account of the protest by Pagan writer Heather Greene......
Diane Vera (129 comments)
Capitalism and the Attack on the Imago Dei
I joined this site today, having been linked here by Crooksandliars' Blog Roundup. I thought I'd put up something I put up previously on my Wordpress blog and also at the DailyKos. As will......
Xulon (315 comments)
History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (148 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (90 comments)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (212 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.