The Syrian refugee crisis has brought to light the difficult question concerning how Christians live as both citizens of the Kingdom of God and citizens of the United States of America. The way the issue is presented it seems that a series of false dichotomies has been constructed in an attempt to force an either/or decision between the two. The situation has been complicated by politics and the recent terrorist attacks, especially the one in Paris. American Christians have responsibilities to both citizenships. The two need not be mutually exclusive. An analysis of the roles belonging to both can illustrate that point.
The first role of any government is the protection of its people. This is true whether you look at the subject biblically or through the lens of the United States Constitution. The issue of illegal immigration and the Syrian refugees both bring to the forefront the question of the safety of the citizens. With illegals the issue is mostly street crime and drug running with the ever-present concern about potential terrorists entering without detection. The Syrian refugee issue is much more concerned about potentially allowing terrorists into the country or those who might become terrorists as the predominant body of Syrians is Muslim. Almost all terrorism in the Western world today is done by people professing Islam as their religion. There is no “close second” contender. Islam is clearly the religion where terrorism has found its natural and most prolific home. Furthermore, we know that most of the terrorists are young people, mostly men but also women. In fact, Canada has recently recognized that fact by banning young, single men from being resettled there. Families, women, children, and those over 50 are still eligible – and all this under Trudeau, the new Liberal prime minister.
Unlike the illegal immigration issue where people enter the country unchecked, the refugee issue is completely under the control of the government. Applicants must meet certain criteria to be considered a valid refugee. These include proof of persecution for religious or political beliefs, race, nationality, or one or more of a few other things listed in federal law. In the case of the Syrian population the only ones truly in distress are the Christians who suffer for their religion. All of the other Muslim factions from Syria have places they can go within the region to seek refuge with others of their same faction. This is not true of the Christian population, which is only about 10% of the Syrian population. They are frequently assaulted or killed by Muslims. In fact, they are underrepresented in the refugee camps because they fear going where the Muslims may well assault or kill them.
In addition to such horror stories, the evidence from Europe of increased crime rates with the influx of Muslim refugees cannot be overlooked. Sweden has become the rape capital of Europe. Muslim migrants have increased crime in Germany by 65%. Even as I write there is a search going on in the capital city of the European Union, Brussels in Belgium, for Muslim terrorists who are supposedly involved in an “imminent” attack. We have learned from this that one area of the city known as Sint-Jans-Molenbeek is heavily Muslim and a serious problem for authorities to police. Such Muslim enclaves have already become problems in France and other places in Europe as well. As I pointed out in a previous article, the problem is that Islam and “freedom” are fundamentally at odds. Islam is a totalitarian religio-political system that seeks to impose Islam and Sharia Law on the whole world. It teaches Muslims that they should lie to non-believers, can rape them, steal from them, assault them, and commit other atrocities against them. It is anti-Semitic to the core (see “No Future for Jews in Europe“). Even if one was to recognize that some Muslims in the Western world reject this aspect of their religion, the fact is that many still adhere to it and those coming from third-world countries such as Syria still strongly adhere to it. This leads to an inevitable clash of cultures which makes such people poor candidates for assimilation into the first world. Worse still are surveys that indicate that almost a quarter of the Muslim Syrian refugees have some favorable opinion of ISIS. Such people are candidates for radicalization.
Another aspect of the Syrian refugee issue that is getting some airtime is the fact that we have little to no documentation on who these people actually are. It is not possible to do thorough vetting without information. This is one of the reasons that terrorists can, and we now know have, used the migration to move about Europe with fake documents. Additionally, with the US following UN rules for admitting refugees we find that Muslims are highly favored and Christians are not. Of more than 2,000 refugees admitted to the US only 53 have been Christian which is the safest of the demographic groups to admit.
Purely on the basis of safety, Syrian refugees are not good candidates to be brought to the US. The lack of documentation, the fact that the Muslims have other places to seek refuge, the fact that the form of Islam they practice is fundamentally incompatible with the US Constitution and Western concepts of religious freedom in general should rule most of them out. In fact, it would be best to contain the refugees in an area similar to that from which they came. It requires fewer cultural adjustments, fewer travel expenses, and the ultimate goal is to return them to their own country as soon as possible.
Let the Church Do Its Job
Christians are often conflicted because their compassionate side and their idealistic goal of converting Muslims to Christianity clash. Their allegiance to the mission effort may override their concept of national identity. After all, no true Christian should choose an earthly nation over the Kingdom of God if they are required to make such a choice. But the Syrian refugee crisis does not present such a choice.
Idealistic Christians think that by bringing Muslims into the country the church has the opportunity to convert them to Christianity. That train of thought is riddled with problems. First, it is not the job of the government to provide the church with candidates for proselytism. It is not anywhere in federal law nor in the history of US immigration. Second, it assumes that the “church” will attempt to do its job. Yet that is not entirely clear as refugees will be dispersed across the states with no assurance that they will be evangelized. Third, even if they are evangelized we have no clear idea how many will convert and how many will maintain their third-world form of Islamic beliefs and actions. Such people are the sources of cultural clashes and increased crime. It seems to be a much better policy to convert them before bringing them into the country because Christianity is tolerant of religious freedom, is not anti-Semitic, values human life, and respects the property of others regardless of their religion. Fourth, the expense of bringing a single refugee to the United States is approximately twelve times greater than caring for the same person in situ. The cost estimate is $64,000 compared to around $5,300. The responsible Christian who is taught to be fiscally responsible should ask: what is more cost effective? Clearly it is more cost effective to care for these people in their local areas. Nor does that preclude the church from doing its job. This is why the church sends missionaries and raises money for charity groups such as Samaritan’s Purse. The Christian should also ask which is more moral: feeding twelve refugees or relocating one refugee? Are we to leave the other eleven behind simply because we want to bring another one here in the hope that he will convert to Christianity? What if he doesn’t? Is that money considered a waste?
Political and Practical Issues
There are some very practical realities that keeping refugees in the region implies. One is that it will be harder if not impossible to evangelize the Muslims since many of the Islamic states would forbid it or sharply curtail it. But we were never going to have full access to all the Muslims anyway. The number that can be resettled here is small and select.
Refugees flee to the West because the countries of the European Union, Canada, and the United States have generous social welfare for them which is not available in the countries nearby Syria. The result is that they become an immediate and long-term drain on the working citizens of these first-world countries. It also adds to the unemployment problems of these countries. Some contend that such economic strain is part of an Islamic invasion of Europe which seeks to reshape the populations, make terrorism easier, and bring about more Islamic dominance. Those are valid concerns. Whether it is intentional or not, if the migrants stay it will have that effect on the continent (see “Sweden Overwhelmed“).
In the States there is great distrust of the Obama administration on all matters relating to Islam and immigration. The perception by the majority of people is that he has failed to effectively deal with ISIS, has made deals with the enemy in Iran, and failed to secure the border. There is a sense that he is trying to change the makeup of the country by importing or allowing into the country people who do not share its language or culture or its deep-seated commitment to religious freedom. The response to this perception by the top Republican presidential candidates has been to suggest making safe zones in Syria for Christian refugees as well as the Muslim refugees. The present administration shows no movement in that direction at this time. It either lacks the political will or does not view resettlement as a problem.
As with Europe, it is a concern that the influx of immigrants or refugees is a political attempt to shift the culture away from its largely European heritage and to shift voting blocks toward Democrats, who get the majority of the vote of such immigrants. The recent discovery that the Obama administration has brought in 680,000 Arab immigrants over the past few years only bolsters such ideas.
In attempting to evaluate the political aspect of this situation, it is often wise to consider who supports the present plan. Clearly the American people are against it by a two-thirds majority. The Republican candidates for president are for a temporary halt to the program as well. Those who do support it are primarily found on the political left: the president, the Democrat candidates for president, and liberal champions like Michael Moore, who offered to pay to import and house refugees in his house. If the minority of the people support it and its champions are found in the liberal left, then it is simply a bad idea for the country.
The left is laying a poorly exegeted guilt trip on the Christian community with one of the false dichotomies: Christians must support the importation of refugees or else they are not living up to their Christian values. Clearly this is not the case. The political left is happy to invoke the concept of a Christian nation by merging the role of government with the role of the church in this case because it supports their goals. Any other time they would recoil at the idea that the government was supporting anything related to the church’s mission. This hypocrisy and the well-known hostility the left has toward God and Christianity in particular lends itself to the conclusion that the goals and motivations for the refugee relocation are less than genuine. In fact, it seems that this is social engineering of the Christian community by attempting to play upon the natural compassion and sense of charity built into Christian doctrine in order to garner support for a left-wing agenda.
Finally, there needs to be real concern for sustaining the Western world in which Christianity has flourished and through whose economic engine the world’s missionaries are predominantly funded. Killing off Western culture would be tantamount to killing the goose that laid the golden egg. As citizens of both the Kingdom of God and the United States, it is clearly good stewardship to maintain what we have been so blessed with and what has so blessed the rest of the world.
Higher Moral Ground
In my opinion, the higher moral ground clearly lies as follows: (1) protect the Christian refugees because they are being assaulted and killed by the Muslims because of their religion (2) keep the Muslims as near to Syria as possible (3) feed & evangelize them there until they can be returned to their homeland (4) preserve the Western cultures that have fostered the growth of Christianity and religious freedom (5) protect the citizens of the countries from unnecessary exposure to the third-world thug element of these refugees.