Based on and adapted from Matthew 25:34-45, The Message
I am going to depart from my usual topics to address current events– namely the responses to the Paris attacks by ISIS and the responses some of the American public have had regarding the acceptance of Syrian refugees into the United States.
It has been reported that terrorists used the refugee migration as a means to smuggle themselves into France and Belgium in order to position themselves to stage their attacks. The terrorists themselves were not refugees but simply posing as refugees in order to cover their movements. Not that it was necessary for them to do so, but because it allowed them into their destinations with less suspicion or scrutiny than what was typical.
The assumptions now being made– aside from the ones being made about somehow all Muslims are terrorists–are that all refugees are potential terrorists. Therefore we must refuse to let in these Syrian refugees.
I want to remind folks about their responsibilities and obligations as persons of faith with this post. I also want to remind people of their history and the principles that help establish the United States.
Point 1: Joseph and Mary were refugees escaping from the corrupt and tyrannical regime of King Herod. They fled to Egypt from Palestine to avoid persecution and the killing of their first born son.
Point 2: The early Colonists were refugees, fleeing religious persecution from the regime of King Henry of England and the corruption of the Church of England. We imposed ourselves upon Native Americans (who could have refused us– and many did as we slaughtered and massacred them for their land, food, water sources, and other resources) and conquered our sanctuary without the consent of the native, indigenous peoples that had already an established homeland that had centuries of history.
Point 3: The French aided us in our War of Independence… they take in Syrian refugees… they gave us a gift of the State of Liberty on which these words are engraved, “Give us your tired, your poor, your hungry and huddled masses yearning to be free. I light the torch beside the golden door.” A paraphrase, I know… but the point is made that we have an obligation as a nation founded by and built by immigrants and refugees to extend open arms to others fleeing atrocities and oppression.
Now some have said we should take care of our homeless veterans before we take in any refugees. Well, do we limit our compassion? Do we say that only so and so is worthy of our help? Do we help one group at the expense of another when we have every opportunity to do the right thing for all concerned?
Point 5: How many Veteran Care or Veteran Affairs spending bills or pieces of legislation were brought before the U.S. Congress since 2012 and how many have been rejected or denied affirmative votes because of the Republican party, the same political party that wishes to reject the Syrian refugees? The same party that uses and manipulates the Christian Right and Christians in general as a political tool to push ultra-conservative domestic policy that undermines true Christian values and the country’s overall well-being?
Point 6: What do you think the consequences are for having invaded Iraq as a response to the events of Sept. 11, 2001? What were the consequences of arming the Taliban along with the Mujahideen freedom fighters against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the early 90’s? What were the consequences for welcoming the Taliban into Texas to hold conferences with representatives of the Carlyle Group and the Bush family in regards to oil concessions? What were the consequences of trying to establish an American-style government upon the Iraqi people without their input or fair and equal representation? What were the consequences of installing CIA-sponsored puppet governments in Iran, Afghanistan, and Iraq? The more we impose our will upon other countries, the more the resentment towards us builds.
Point 7: Our country’s anti-Islam fervor is precisely what the terrorists use as a weapon against us, staging their conflicts as a jyhad– a religious based war–fuels anti-American sentiment and encourages misinformed Muslims that we are the enemy because we hate them, despise their religion, etc. Our anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim fervor is fueling and justifying their terrorist rhetoric and our foreign policy history in the Middle East is exactly why these terror groups are flourishing and becoming so popular. We have played right into their hands, playing the role of Imperialists.
We can change the pattern and we can repair our reputations and re-establish our values here and now and send a message that the America of today is not going to be the America of our checkered past. By welcoming Syrian refugees– or any refugees for that matter– we are honoring our fellow men, woman, and children of God’s creation, and we are honoring our heritage, and we are honoring the principles behind the French gift of the Statue of Liberty.