Following the attacks in Paris, the rhetoric in the United States has shifted dramatically from a focus on the humanitarian crisis in Syria to portraying Syrian refugees as a security threat.
Lost in this discussion is the fact that refugees are already more thoroughly vetted than anyone else entering the United States. This thorough screening process can take up to two years and involves the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, Department of Defense and multiple intelligence agencies.
We in the United States like to think of ourselves as a nation of immigrants, a welcoming nation. In reality, however, we have too often slammed the doors in fear against people who “don’t look like us.”
As Christians, we must make clear that this approach is contrary to the Gospel. Jesus calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Luke 10:27). The apostle Paul reminds us to “extend hospitality to strangers” (Romans 12:13).
We also must make clear that our hospitality extends to Muslims, not just Christians, as some U.S. policymakers are drawing a distinction between Syrian Christians and Syrian Muslims who are seeking refuge. This divisive rhetoric is wrong and must stop.
Amidst all of the focus on Syrians entering the U.S., not enough attention is being paid to the dire circumstances that Syrians in the Middle East continue to experience. The vast need for humanitarian assistance remains and the U.S. can do much more. Additionally, the need to find a political solution to the crisis in Syria is greater than ever. Recent momentum from diplomatic talks in Vienna should be encouraged.
As Christians and as a nation, we must find ways to support the people of Syria, rather than demonizing them.
Give: MCC’s Syria and Iraq crisis response
Speak out: Urge Congress and state officials to support Syrian refugees
Learn more: For information on the resettlement of refugees, contact Church World Service or World Relief