Random Thoughts on Syrian Refugees

I’ve been pondering this for a couple weeks. It seems there is a lot of diversity in opinion, and likewise a certain level of calling each other out as to what an appropriate Christian response might be. Each respective side think’s their’s is the correct one, and some have gone so far as to raise the “not a true Christian” argument thing. As such, some thoughts.

A small number of folks are convinced that as a nation with a Christian identity/history, to not take them in, would put us in the situation as Sodom (Ezekiel 16:49-50) and potentially bring God’s wrath upon our nation. In opposition, a likewise small number of folks believe Christian beliefs and actions need to be limited only to the church and to the individual. Ie, the entire US should not be put at greater risk by allowing the refugee process to continue.

On the one hand, I very much agree with Jamietheworstmissionary with her post “When we are all priests and levites” in reference to the parable of the good Samaritan. Ie, doing nothing should not be the answer. On the other hand, its a very complex and nuanced issue. The scriptures on innocent as doves and wise as serpents comes to mind.

According to  http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.ph pas of 11/21/2015 there are 4,289,792 refugees from Syria.

If we do bring in 10,000, then what about the other 4, 279,792 people? If we bring in 10,000 and something really bad happens, will we as the American people have the will to bring in more?

It would be disingenuous to state that their is no risk in doing this. Yes, it is very small, and certainly if a terrorist is determined to get on US soil, there are much easier paths than trojan horse action via refugee status., but when the door is opened, even with many checks and balances, the risk level will increase. Bottom line, no government process is perfect, whether it be refugee verification, ebola containment, or even our criminal justice system where innocent folks end up going to prison for many years.

Depopulating a country of diverse beliefs, leaving only Daesh, their supporters, and those neutral to said beliefs behind is likely not going to end well. Left in isolation, such is likely to turn into another conflict that dwarfs Iraq and Afghanistan, once US economic interests in the middle east are threatened, and/or we encounter directly attributable  on shore terrorist attacks.

Some suggest its just too expensive to screen and to receive refugees, especially so when we don’t take care of our veterans, our homeless, and our poor. Then again, should the aforementioned attacks on US soil, and/or our interests be threatened, it seems some will want to go to war over it. Such would likely mean committing 10,000 American lives, and 4 trillion dollars…. assuming double the life loss and costs of Iraq and Afghanistan.  Would not a more responsible choice be to make smaller sacrifices now, rather than waiting to the point that such large sacrifices have to be made?

Each one of the 10,000 is someone’s son or daughter, perhaps someones parent, each person saved is very likely to be someone else’s world.

The US, while having a strong Christian contingent and history is pretty diverse. Should a Hindi, Taoist, or even an Atheist be subject to increased risks, and/or increased taxes to assist the refugees? Even among Christian beliefs, there is a wide range, from pre-Augustines Christianity and its teachings of self sacrifice and pacifism to the point that even self-defense was condemned, all the way to post WWII Christian dominionism which adopts Aquinas views to an extreme and adds tribalism on steroids to the mix. (A contemporary Augustinian struggle on this can be found starting at this comment on John Pavlovitz blog, as well as this posting on pacifism and militarism through the years with the Stone Campbell movement).

Christian views on tribalism are exceedingly diverse as well. Some Christians view super tribalism as near Christian dogma, vs others view the teachings of Christ as anti-tribalistic. Taken to extremes, does Matthew 25 require total submission to Christ, including sacrificing self, as well as family (Luke 14:26), church, and country to assist anyone, even non-believers? Or does Matthew 25 only refer to the least of these as believers in ones immediate faith community, and that family, church, and country should rarely if ever make sacrifices… and that even self sacrifice must be limited.

For Christians who ascribe to pronatalism and see birthrate evangelism as the primary means of fulfilling the great commission, the idea of 10,000 Islamic refugees strikes terror in their heart. Ie, they fear Christianity becoming a minority religion with a correspondingly massive loss in privilege… and considering that recent US history shows birthrate and immigration driven evangelism to be the most effective forms in the US, said fear seems justifiable to folks holding that worldview.

In a similar vein, some are concerned with sharia law. Alas, will 10,000 people really make a difference in a society of 320,000,000? Even more so, would the US seriously consider rolling back gay marriage, women’s rights, and our monetization of sex at every turn? Realistically, even if they found a number of like minded people, the economic powers that be would never let that happen. There is just too much money at stake for it to be considered.

There are no easy answers to this, and a lot of unintended consequences no matter which way we turn. Alas, I don’t think we want to be priests and levites either.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *