December 10, 2015

Churches settling refugees against governors’ wishes

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A pro-refugee counterprotester shouts during another group's protest against the United States' acceptance of Syrian refugees at the Washington state capitol in Olympia, Wash., on Nov. 20, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/David Ryder
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-REFUGEE-STATES, originally transmitted on Dec. 10, 2015.

A pro-refugee counterprotester shouts during another group's protest against the United States' acceptance of Syrian refugees at the Washington state capitol in Olympia, Wash., on Nov. 20, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/David Ryder *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-REFUGEE-STATES, originally transmitted on Dec. 10, 2015.

(RNS) More than half of the nation’s governors declared their state’s borders closed to Syrian refugees after the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris. But some churches and faith-based agencies are defying such orders, saying their faith tells them to open their doors to the stranger.

Here are some of them:

1.Georgia: Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist megachurch north of Atlanta, has helped resettle a Syrian family, despite an order from Gov. Nathan Deal that the state would not accept Syrian refugees.

Bryant Wright, the church’s pastor and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, told CNN Wednesday (Dec. 9) he understands the governor is “concerned about the security of the citizens of the state. But as Christians and as a church, we want to reach out with the love of Christ to these folks.”

He told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that his church had been planning to help the family before the recent attacks in France.

2. Indiana: The Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis defied Gov. Mike Pence by welcoming a Syrian family that arrived in the city on Monday (Dec. 7).

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin said  the day after the family arrived that he had “prayerfully considered” the governor’s request to defer their arrival until Congress approved new legislation regarding immigrants and refugees, but went ahead as planned.

Pence disagreed with the archdiocese’s action but said he would not block food stamps and other state aid for the family, the Indianapolis Star reported.


MOREFor Syrian refugees, faith groups want a US welcome mat


3. Ohio: Westminster Presbyterian Church of Wooster, Ohio, has volunteered to accept up to three refugee families from Syria or elsewhere.

“As Christians and as part of the human family, we are moved to put our faith into action when we see the unfathomable need of our siblings,” said the Rev. Andries Coetzee, pastor of the church in a Nov. 30 announcement. “It is our duty to remind those in power that we do have a responsibility to care for Syrian refugees, especially as our foreign policy is part of the root cause of the refugee crisis.”

Gov. John Kasich, a GOP presidential candidate, has written to President Obama, asking him to halt acceptance of Syrian refugees.

4. Texas: Refugee Services of Texas, an affiliate of several Christian refugee organizations, settled six Syrian refugees in Houston on Monday, The Associated Press reported. It expects to settle nine more before the end of the week.

“We can reassure all Texans that the refugees are receiving a warm and compassionate welcome from staff and volunteers,” said Aaron Rippenkroeger, president and CEO of Refugee Services of Texas, according to The AP.

Gov. Greg Abbott is working with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, another presidential candidate, on the State Refugee Security Act, proposed legislation that would allow governors to reject refugees who are deemed to be a security risk.

(Adelle Banks is production editor and a national reporter for RNS)

  • Be Brave

    Yes as you can see these “Christians” are acting just like their counterparts in “Islamic Countries” by welcoming in people of a different religion.

    But not arresting them of course.

    I notice with fascination that then common anti-Christian voices are not decrying Church and State mingling when it serves liberal and progressive (secular) causes.

    I wonder if any of these “Christians” welcoming in these “refugees” are actually preaching the Christ of the New Testament (as they are supposed to do per Jesus) or “another Gospel” of the secular Left and of course Mohammad’s errors?

    “Oh what a tangled web we weave when once we practice to deceive.”

  • larry

    When churches are doing the right thing, and defying clearly illegal directives from state government, they are to be congratulated.

    If your version of Gospel is about attacking people in God’s name and acting holier than thou, its much closer to ISIS than mainstream Christianity. If you want to distinguish your religion from one of hate and death, then you should avoid hateful actions.

  • Finally there’s an article with some good news.

  • Garson Abuita

    These gubernatorial “orders” seem pretty toothless. It’s unclear what a governor can do to block free travel of someone granted entry into the US by the federal government. Pence of Indiana said he wouldn’t even block this family’s welfare payments! It’s like when the mayor of Philadelphia said he wanted to bar Mein Coif from entering the city. Aspirational only.

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  • Michael Slayter

    The biblical conflict between Samaritans and Jews draws close parallel to what we are seeing today. As many passed the injured man on the road and one stopped to help, you must ask yourself, which one am I?

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  • Amen

  • True christian

    They are listening to the Beatles all you need is love and thinking it is from the bible. They think when God told the Israelites not to co-mingle he just must have been bored. They have all actually read the Quaran and know of coiurse what they are inviting. Their bibles apparently do not have the Old Testament. They must think it is ok to hang out in a Buddhist temple or really just anywhere as long as you wear a cross. They think they are going to go door to door and simply convince people who have grown up watching murders everyday that they should just throw away their quarans. Super naive, don’t understand like Saul from the Old Testament did not understand that to obey is better than sacrifice. So when they watch people die then they will want to God and say why, why??? He will say you did not obey me. It would have been better if they had never spoken. People say the Jews are the most stubborn but even though King David bought the Temple Mount they can’t stand up to them.

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  • Barry the Baptist

    Why would you be “fascinated” by the “silence” of people who typically decry the exclusion of “others” by many “religious” groups when those same “groups” are now being inclusive?

    You should check out the story of the “Good Samaritan,” as Michael Slayter suggested down below; which character do you think your behavior most closely aligns with?