Opinion

Evangelicals can no longer speak as one voice

American evangelicals have never been fully united on controversial issues. Photos courtesy of Creative Commons

(RNS) Seventy-six percent of white American evangelicals supported President Trump’s recent executive order temporarily banning travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations as well as all refugees, according to Pew Research (59 percent of all Americans disapproved of the order).

The strong evangelical support for Trump’s action is telling in light of a recent letter sent to him and Vice President Mike Pence from 500 evangelical leaders who condemn the executive order.

The letter was signed by Tim Keller (author and pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church), Richard Mouw (former president of Fuller Theological Seminary), Max Lucado (author), Bill Hybels (founder of Willow Creek Community Church) and Shirley Hoogstra (president of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities),  to name only a few of the prominent evangelicals who endorsed its message.


RELATED: 500 prominent evangelicals take out full-page ad supporting refugees


The opposition of these evangelical leaders stems from what they believe to be their Christian responsibility to care for the poor and oppressed and to follow Jesus’ command to “love our neighbor as ourselves.” As the letter notes, “Jesus makes it clear that our ‘neighbor’ includes the stranger and anyone fleeing persecution and violence, regardless of their faith or country.”

The fact that so many mainstream evangelical leaders opposed Trump’s order, while 76 percent of their followers supported it, is further evidence of the way politics — particularly the Trump candidacy ­— divided American evangelicalism. (It might also suggest that few evangelicals in the pew are following the biblical exhortations of their pastors. They just might be turning to Trump or one of his ministerial supporters for advice on this front).

This is not the first time in American history that calls for unity among believers have been undermined by political matters.

The American Revolution brought division to 18th-century Christian churches. The issue of slavery split Protestant denominations in the years leading up to the Civil War.  In fact, evangelical Christians can be found on both sides of nearly every major political and social issue in U.S. history. They have seldom spoken to American culture with a unified, prophetic voice.

But 76 percent is a larger number of evangelicals. It almost parallels the 81 percent of voting evangelicals who pulled the level for Trump in November. The evangelical grass-roots support of Trump’s travel ban sheds light on two serious problems with the movement today.

1. Fear

Jesus counseled his disciples to “not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) John had similar advice: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)

Fear is a natural response when human beings sense danger in their midst. Trump plays to these fears when he warns of imminent terrorist attacks from foreign Muslims.  His campaign for the presidency was successful because he manipulated human fears for political gain and glory.

Yet, if I read the Bible correctly, the kind of fear that Trump flames is not an option for Christians. Or at the very least, this kind of fear is not a biblical reason for failing to show hospitality to the stranger or care for the poor and the oppressed.

The fear of American evangelicals is also misplaced. It is enhanced by the evangelical movement’s second significant problem.

2. Anti-intellectualism

The fear that Trump has instilled in 76 percent of U.S. evangelicals is based on very weak evidence.

For example, most of the terrorist attacks that have occurred on American soil in the last 15 years have either come from ISIS sympathizers born in the U.S. or those who came to America from a nation that is not included in the recent travel ban.

Fear can easily be exacerbated by false information. And good information can often alleviate fear.

Trump is building an entire immigrant policy around a few isolated cases of undocumented immigrants who have come to the United States illegally and committed terrible crimes. The overwhelming majority of immigrants and refugees who come to the United States are productive members of society.

These are facts. They are backed by statistics, data and evidence.

Refugees coming to American shores are already heavily vetted. While it is always possible for a lone wolf to commit a terrible crime (as we have seen, sadly, of late), Americans have been relatively safe from foreign terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001.

Again, these are the facts. They are backed by statistics, data and evidence.

And as long as we are at it, Barack Obama is not a Muslim. And he was born in Hawaii, not Kenya.

Millions of undocumented immigrants did not vote illegally in the November 2016 election.

Muslim refugees in Bowling Green, Ky., did not stage a massacre of white people in 2011.

There was not a Muslim terrorist attack in Sweden.

These are the facts.  They are backed by statistics, data and evidence.

It is time for my fellow evangelicals to take seriously what the Founding Fathers of this nation called an “informed citizenry.” Better yet, it is time to counter fear with facts — a necessary starting point for worshipping God with our minds.

(John Fea teaches American history at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pa. He blogs daily at www.thewayofimprovement.com and tweets at @johnfea1)

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John Fea

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  • “The opposition of these evangelical leaders stems from what they believe
    to be their Christian responsibility to care for the poor and oppressed
    and to follow Jesus’ command to “love our neighbor as ourselves.” As
    the letter notes, “Jesus makes it clear that our ‘neighbor’ includes the
    stranger and anyone fleeing persecution and violence, regardless of
    their faith or country.”

    First of all I agree with this statement. However, the above excerpt should be recognized as a personal statement of responsibility to one’s faith in most cases. This is not necessarily suppose to include a societal mandate, nor a governmental one either. The other problem I have is that by having it become a collective mandate, it puts extreme hardships on people that are being told what to do, how to do it, and how much they must contribute to achieve this. But these people are never discussed, nor thought of after the fact. When the burden gets greater to the point of destitution and these people try to reclaim their stability they are beaten back with slurs and shaming.

    My relationship with God/Jesus/Holy Spirit, is a personal relationship whereby I live my faith, to the best of my ability. My faith and how I live that out is not associated with a communal mindset/mandate of this relationship as God will not say to me at my judgement you belonged to such and such therefore you did right. It is all about our own actions, our own faith, our own ability to live the Gospel message. If at any moment I am only able to do something small, or something less tangible I should not be forced into something I cannot handle at the moment. God has never asked any one to hand over their livelihood, their ability to provide for themselves or family, in some divine guilt trip because another needs it too.

    Yes, we must help the stranger, but God never said we must take from the poor/needy and give it the stranger either. Most people who advocate for communal responsibility are the ones who already feel secure in their state of life, who are untouched by basic needs. Will they give until they become unstable?, of course not that would be foolish. Then stop asking for the poor to give or give up what they cannot. Personal responsibility, personal advocacy, personal action is the way to go.

  • There is a growing divide between Evangelical “leaders” and Evangelical pew guy. It has its parallel in the culture at large. If I had to give it a title it would be a takeoff on Schliermacher, “Evangelicalism and Its Evangelical Cultured Despisers.” Evangelical pew guy found out in the last election that his “thought leaders” give only a tip of the hat to the pro-life cause and are comfortable with SSM. Their disdain for Trump went some way in tipping off pew guy that actually their leaders weren’t seriously with him on these moral issues. These very same leaders that warned pew guy again and again to not conflate politics with Christ and attempted to stamp down the political activism of the church couldn’t control themselves and flat out went after Trump. The mask of political distance was off. All of sudden they had politics on their agenda, except that it wasn’t the politics of the Evangelical movement. Pew guy noticed the game being played. Evangelical leaders were accommodating themselves to left of center governmental policies, even if not personally supportive. And now pew guy saw it out in the open. These leaders did not speak for him. Most of my close friends are Evangelical pastors, and one thing is clear to me – they did not vote as their churches voted. I do not know one Evangelical Pastor in my circles who voted for Trump. You can bet their churches did. This is a sign of the increasing rift between pulpit and pew. Do Evangelical Pastors have more in common with the Mainline? Will they, in fact, go the way of the Mainline? Is institutional Evangelicalism representative of church Evangelicalism? Some of your post reminds me of the same things said by Mainline leaders during the Fundamentalism/Modernisn debates. “If you don’t agree with me you are fearful of modernity and anti-intellectual.” We know what happened to the Mainline. I wonder if that is a sign of things to come. I am rereading Niebuhr’s “Moral Man and Immoral Society.” It’s certainly not about past times. It’s about today. Niebuhr was certainly no Evangelical, I know. But his Christian Realism is a warning for our circumstance. I’m not so sure the Evangelical elite are listening.

  • In my experience, motivated thinkers aren’t swayed by evidence or facts. For them, even fear is preferable. It’s simple and unambiguous. In any case, there are precious few informed citizens in this country, and you won’t find many among the evangelical masses. They’ve made clear their preferences. Look elsewhere.

  • For me, all of this is complicated by the Trump administration’s authoritarian playbook: discredit all sources of authority other than the leader. So he makes fun of the Pope (not your guy, I know, but still) and has his wife read the Lord’s prayer at his rallies. The implicit message being that you can get your religion from him. This elevates the danger to individuals and society.

  • As a seminary student who is preaching part time in my church, I feel this so deeply. I have not felt safe among my own in many months now. It is tricky as well to provide meaningful sermons worthy of Worship of Christ, yet be mindful of the politically charged sitting in the seats. It has left me quite sad and defeated at times.

  • about 80% of the Christian Church in Germany remained silent during the Nazi regime’s genocide. Jesus was clear – “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” and “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” The real gospel centered Church in America is probably a lot smaller than it thinks it is.

  • Lisa, you are not alone. I’ve felt the same way. Keep letting the Holy Spirit guide you as you share the truth with your congregation. Please do not be silent. Biblical commands and the life and teaching of Jesus shouldn’t be political issues in the church – they are Biblical ones. Look across most evangelical churches in the US – won’t all of them be in support of pro-life and against pro-choice? My church supports “The Walk for Life” every year, as well as supporting a group called “A Woman’s Friend” that helps women who choose to keep their babies. Why do the refugees become a “political” issue, but the unborn babies do not? We live in a very hypocritical church. It’s nothing new, though. And honestly, as Christians Jesus said to lay down our lives for Him, and to love our enemies. Welcoming the extensively vetted refugees doesn’t even pose a threat to our security – as seen through the facts and data throughout the years. But even if it did – as Christians we are still called to welcome them.

  • Frankly, I’m somewhat more suspicious of so-called “gospel centered” churches than of mainline churches owing to the typically greater commitment to certain troubling scriptural doctrines and dogmas, such as earthly authorities being established by the Christian god, the inerrancy of scripture, etc..

    I think a similar species of grassroots dogmas encouraged the silence of German churches during the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. After all, the anti-Semitism of Martin Luther (and others before and after), was itself derived from scriptural stories arguably blaming “the Jews” for killing the Christian god, thus infecting European Protestant doctrine centuries before. Simply put, they, along with their congregants, became complicit with the Nazi regime.

  • I know it seems like “so many mainstream” Christian leaders are opposed to this refugee ban, but there are so many more who are either silent about it (and because of that, still enabling it) and even some who support it. For those evangelical leaders who support it, well, I don’t know what kind of Bible they are reading and what kind of Jesus they think they are following. For those who are silent – may they have the courage and faith to preach the gospel of Jesus and the truth of the Word of God with boldness, without fear. I have yet to find a Christian leader in my area who is opposed to this ban, and it is very discouraging. Discouraging isn’t even close to the right word to use. The stories I read in articles like the leaders the article mentioned, about the church in Georgia and the latest one from Ft. Worth Texas give me hope that not all is lost in the American Church.

  • John Fea, what are you referring to here when speaking of refugees:
    “While it is always possible for a lone wolf to commit a terrible crime (as we have seen, sadly, of late)”

    There have been no American deaths by terrorism from refugees.
    “Of the 859,629 refugees admitted from 2001 onwards, only three have been convicted of planning terrorist attacks on targets outside of the United States, and none was successfully carried out. That is one terrorism-planning conviction for every 286,543 refugees that have been admitted. To put that in perspective, about 1 in every 22,541 Americans committed murder in 2014.” CATO

  • How does “personal responsibility” work out when your kid has a brain tumor which will cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars? How does it work out for that second grader whose stomach is rumbling? If you’re a single mom and your kid has a mental health issue? And any one of these could be any one of our families if things don’t go just right.
    Americans seem to have forgotten that welfare laws changed back in the 90’s. Nobody is on indefinite welfare if they can work or they can be in school. What else would you like to see happen? Frankly, I dont’ want to live in a society where the sick are crowded into emergency rooms and bodies line up in the streets. Because it is a democracy and we get to make laws “for the common good,” I need for there to be some basic safety net. For humanitarian reasons. And because if there is no safety net crime increases. For all sorts of reason.

  • Thanks to Dr. Fea for another list of hypocrites. The list of Scriptures from Christian ‘leaders” (an unbiblical concept) tells us to “love our neighbor as we love ourselves”. However, these Scriptures are applied only to refugees headed for our country. But this Scripture applies equally to the oppressed people in these countries who will never leave their homes.

    The Real Problem: For example, emigration from Mexico to the US is pushed by the real problem. The real problem is a 500-year history of racist discrimination by the wealthy European elite against the native peoples of Mexico. This racism started when the Conquistadors conquered Mexico, stole all of the nation’s wealth (only 20% was sent back to Spain, by contract) and enslaved the indigenous peoples (and later, Africans).

    The descendants of these Spanish thieves and of other European immigrants used, and still use, their wealth to control the government and its policies. This control of the political system and its policies continues to enrich the wealthy who look down on the poor, brown-skinned native peoples and have no desire to help them.

    As a result, natives suffer in education, jobs, lack of basic housing, potable water, roads, electricity, and by demeaning in public venues. “Univision” is a lily-white Mexican television organization which hypocritically criticizes others for racism.

    Mexico’s top-down corruption has rotted away national morality: It has allowed injustice, bribery, modern slavery, and the stealing of native lands to flourish. Drug cartels send drugs across the border, kill whatever public officials they dislike, and commit mass murders against the Mexican poor.

    Hypocrisy is the only term to describe those who want to apply Christian morality to emigrants who wish to enter the U.S., but care nothing about these poor, oppressed people before they cross the border.

    Only if the wealthy Mexican elite (and the elite of other oppressive governments) and the government they control are routinely vilified, and their history frequently rehearsed, will the Mexican poor, and the oppressed of other countries, ever receive justice.

    Excellent articles on Mexican racism by three journalists–two Americans of Mexican descent and a current Mexican professor– as well as an Amnesty International report can be found at these links:

    http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/20/opinion/navarrette-mexico-racism
    http://politic365.com/2012/05/04/yes-latinos-can-be-racist-too/
    http://www.racismreview.com/blog/2016/12/11/systemic-racism-mexico/
    http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/countries/americas/mexico

  • So if your sincere belief is to prevent abortions from happening tour efforts are better served not attacking the rights of women with stumping for abortion bans (which don’t work and endanger women lives).

    It is best served doing what is most effective, promoting access to effective contraception. It is best served by promoting gender equality in the workplace. Served by promoting access to healthcare coverage. Served by supporting public social services which help poor parents and their children. The concern some Christians allegedly have for the unborn is a load of crap unless they can show real concern for those already born. I don’t see that among that crowd. I am not likely to.

    Your Walk of Life is not going to do anything of value except raise money for politicians who want to attack civil liberties and undermine the economic interests of those likely to need to consider whether they can or should continue their pregnancies.

  • I think a good number of evangelicals overlooked Mr. Trump moral shortcomings, as numerous as they are, in order to simply secure a pro-life Supreme Court nominee. I imagine other issues, such as immigration, generate less consensus.

  • Very thoughtful and well written, Mr. Bryant. I have questions for you.

    Isn’t it true that clergy are to “lead” their flocks, rather than “follow” them?
    Aren’t clergy challenge pew guy, rather than maintain his comfort, especially when they truly believe pew guy is wrong?
    Shouldn’t the clergy, when coming to greater understanding via research, scholarship and/or revelation, make that known to pew guy?
    And last, is it the calling of the clergy to create or maintain a large membership?

  • J.C. I believe you are talking about different churches than I am. Mainline churches ARE gospel-centered churches with a focus on Jesus Christ. I know Lutheranism especially is. In the ELCA the bible is viewed through concentric rings with the gospels in the center and the bulk of the new testament in the second ring. It continues to radiate out from there. That doesn’t mean the rest of the bible is irrelevant, but the focus is on the “Christ” portion of “Christ”ian.

  • Could it be that Evangelicals are watching Fox News, listening to right-wing talk radio, and visiting right-wing websites six days a week, and only hearing their Evangelical pastors one day a week for maybe 60 minutes? It would explain the 81% vote for Trump and the 76% support for his anti-immigrant policy. Plus Evangelical leaders like Rev. Franklin Graham saying that God personally endorsed Donald Trump for President and gave him a divine mandate to rule. I’m shocked that 19% of Evangelicals rebelled against all that.

  • Mr. Fea, when the heck have evangelicals EVER spoken as one?! There’s great variety among those churchmen who preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to promote a personal faith in same. You are likely speaking about evangelicals without ever having been one, or even lived among them! The liberal social justice gospel message has made inroads among several evangelical denominations, particularly with millenials. Many who are laboring under guilt with their earlier apartheid with blacks, now blindly support all pro-black political issue that comes along. (Most of these folks are called Democrats!)

    . . . if I read the Bible correctly, the kind of fear that Trump flames is not an option for Christians. Or at the very least, this kind of fear is not a biblical reason for failing to show hospitality to the stranger or care for the poor and the oppressed.”
    What fear is Mr. Fea talking about, that President Trump supposedly “flames?” The fear of potential Muslim terrorists who are trying to slip into the US from those seven war-torn countries full of gihadis? Americans usually see that as a healthy fear!
    There’s nothing that President Trump has said or done that would cause anyone’s failure to show hospitality to the stranger or the poor and oppressed. This is coming from someone who is blinded by “Trump Derangement Syndrome” to the point of blaming him for anyone’s failure to reach out to strangers and the downtrodden. That admonition was for individuals! It’s not the government’s job to do what God commanded God’s own people to do!

  • First, I would like to correct your discription of the executive order. It is a temporary travel restriction on countries, identified by the Obama admin., that lacked a proper vetting system. This is important. word do matter. The scripture also calls us to have discernment. Considering the fact that terrorist havethe stated objective to blendin with refugees and have done so in Europe. It would be irresponsible to not properly vet national that are either incapable or unwilling to do so? This is not “fear” but being reponsible stewards of home and family.

    The statement that supporters of the above stated policy are”anti-intellectual is at its core wrong. I will avoid the use of the word arrogant…..I guess i just did. oh well.
    There has never been a claim that all or most immigrants are terrorist. I don’t even believe there is a belief in any quarter that 5 to 10 % of those who wish to immigrate from muslim nations mean any harm to anyone. The reality and fact is that it only take one or two or three out of that 100 or 1000. That is why we have to remove our shoes in the airport and carry bottles of only son many oz. on planes. This is the inconvience we all share. Unfortunately this extends to refugges and immigrants as well. This is not racist or phobic in any way. This is simple reality.

    For the record, Trump was not my first, second, or even third choice. Yet he won and is the President. He deserve our support and should be given the benefit of not being judged. I think that right is reserved for Someone else. What we are called to do is to pray for our leaders. That God blesses them with His wisdom. Amen

  • I think the writers point is that it is anti-intellectual to worry about immigrants (I’d add all the efforts at a airport in the same bucket) doing harm because the data would suggest your are more likely to be hurt by a white, Christian, man than you are to be hurt by a Muslim immigrant from one of those 7 countries.

    To say “this is simple reality” is to miss that the reality that exists is not informed by information but rather fear, feelings, bias, and yes in many ways racism and hate.

  • By your reasoning, it would be anti-intellectual to worry about me. it seems to me that the primary point is that the President has certain responsibilities and mandated by the constitution. The President is reponsible for the safety and security of the people. Having a strong vetting process, particularly when the other naation lacks one is reasnable. The reason that Saudi Arabia or Egypt were not on the listt is because it was determined, by the previous administration, that they had put into place acceptable vetting proceedures. Of course, there are no guarentees in the process but the President is responsible to do everything he or she can to insure its effectiveness.

    The injection of race is not warranted or justified. There is no factual bases for it. For the record, I take personal offense to the suggestion. If the tomorrow France decides to have less than adequate vetting proceedures, I would expect the same treatment. There is no evidence to suggest this administration would do otherwise.

    If you disagree with a policy, that is your right. However, I tire, as I am sure you do, of the hyperbole and out right character assasination such an acusation create. This approach is designed to discourage debate and discussion. It hinders cooperation and consensus building when that is what we as a nation requires most.

  • I’m a little lost as to where you think I said it would be anti-intellectual to worry about you. I’m sorry that’s what you read, it wasn’t my goal.

    What I see in the instance of the EO, is anti-intellectual because it ignores all the data and history. It seems to prey on fear. Fear that has been crafted and directed at specific people groups, and not based in fact. Its to move from fact to fear that, to me, shows an anti-intellectual approach.

    *edit* my comment on racism was no directly pointed at you but at why the reality that is present exists. I can’t possibly speak to who you are.

  • I never thought you were refering to me. Just for conjecture lets assume that you are confronted with a problem, terrorism. You have determne ways to reduce the probability of its occurance. In determining this plan you will address probabilities. The EO addresses some of these probabilities.Is it perfect? Of course not. Reducinfg these probabilities by addressing obvious problems is correct.

    Is it possible that this is what is behind the EO. Can the fact that the previoous administration recognized this issue be relevant? Why must it be racism. Do you think the tempered souls that executed 9-11 cared about the race of any American in those towers? Of course not. They did not even care if there were muslims there.

    I have found that the currency of terrorist, facist, or any other authoritarian is power. Fear is the means to their end. Just be clear on who is who. The Trump administration is limited by checks and balances indicated in the constitution. The true villan has no restraints.

    I don’t believe it is relevant if the data supports the position that most true terrorist act are done by white males. The relevant fact is to eliminate all possibilities. The EO is legitimate. It is not made illegitimate based of the data regardless of its validity or nonvalidity.

    To imply the this order is racist, is at best an assuption and at it worst a diversion. Regardless, it hinders reson discussion and debate. Concidering what is at stake, can we agree that these are unacceptable options, Especially when this issue must be addressed.

  • The question as I understood it was not one of legitimacy but what has compelled Christians to act and support things that, to many, appear unChrist like. The POTUS can do what he’s done and as you say the courts decided he overstepped and put in place a check.

    The support however is what I understand the author, and would agree with, to be saying is based in fear and anti-intellectualism. The reason it would seem that way to me is there are better ways to achieve the safety people desire. The EO is akin to saying “I’ve cut off my hand and have a small paper cut on my leg, how do we get the paper cut to stop bleeding?” It chooses to ignore the data on where danger is emanating from and how it has been conducted in the USA. You’re right fear is the means to their of terrorists power. These EO increase fear and provide added power to those “true villains”. Now any peaceful Syrian is a terrorist waiting to happen and that view is endorsed and furthered by the POTUS with his rhetoric and EO.

    And this fear cannot be properly addressed in my mind without addressing the way conversations of terrorism are decidedly linked to race and ethnicity. Dylann Roof wasn’t labeled a terrorist, but if he had been Muslim he would have been. If the shoot in KC had been the other way around not only would the POTUS have been tweeting about the danger immigrants are to the country he would be talking terrorism. But becasue immigrants were the ones attacked by a white American, its simply a tragedy. The way the labels in the media start with the perpetrators ethnicity and race. I do agree conversations are stunted when race comes up, not because it’s not pertinent but because we are terrible at talking about race, especially in the church.

    What’s saddest to me is to see the church supporting these things. To have children knocking at it’s door, dying on the other side, while we keep it locked worrying about our safety out of unfounded fear doesn’t show the fruit of Christian love and mercy to me. We sponsored a Syrian refugee family, they are lovely and so are their
    cousins and sisters family, all we’ve happily welcomed into our home.
    These are not the dangerous people the USA has been led to believe they
    are.

  • Thank you for your response. What I find reprehensible in the article is the disrespect the author direct toward any evangelical who supported Trump. He condemns them as frightened and ignorant children who allow themselves to be manipulated by a Trump mantra of racist ideology. His justification for this hinges on assumptions and stereotype of the most simplistic and narrow nature.

    The first thing I would like to do is to point out that we are speaking of three distinct groups of people. These groups are legal immigrants, illegal immigrants, and refugees. This is an important distinction because it is recognized by the law and the citizenry discussed. It is also the distinction this administration has made in how it is and will address immigration and security policy. The author of the article fails, I believe intentionally, to make this distinction.

    The executive order addressed the policy regarding the rules of legal immigration, the vetting process. This process in and of itself is not “un Christ” like or non-Christian. It is responsible and reasonable. Fear has nothing to do with it any more than when a bank does a credit check to mitigate risk. A reason and responsible response to danger is honorable and expected not fearful and unloving.

    The author stated that terrorist attacks are mostly done by American born sympathizers or immigrant not named in the ban. The first thing of note is the fact that the vetting system has been modified of the last 15 years and most countries have agreed and complied with the policies. These restrictions apply to countries and either refuse or can’t comply with the previous modification put into place by previous administrations.

    The author then introduces the illegal immigrant to the conversation. These are individual not undergoing the vetting system. He stated that the vetting policies are derived from “a few isolated cases of undocumented workers……committed terrible crimes”. He is wrong on two counts. The undocumented work should not be placed in the same category of those who subject themselves to vetting. Secondly, the government statistics indicate that over 800,000 undocumented workers have committed a felony or skipped a warrant.

    In regards to the third group, Refugees, he states that they are already heavily vetted. Who determines what is heavy vetting. The President does. This was the same process that allow the wife of the San Bernardino terrorist to enter the country. It is proper to review procedure to insure better success.
    The facts that he states sound like something from internet fake news trivia. Obama is not a Muslim, illegal immigrant voting, staged massacre, and Sweden. All these are mentioned to identify those who disagree as ignorant. I did not see a poll of this group regarding these items or does that data not count.

    I commend your assisting refugees entering the country. I assume that you have spoken to them as to why they had to leave their country. Have you asked them about the terrorist within their country? Do they believe that these terrorists will do any and everything to get past the vetting of our country? I am sure of their answer. I would venture to say that the over whelming majority of those who voted for Trump have no problem with those who legally enter the country. I am sure they only want responsible checking, vetting, of those entering their country. To assume otherwise is simply not justified. Remember that we are all part of the body. Christ is no respecter of men. The people who claim to be leaders would do well to remember this. A new reformation may not be called for, but a revival is. If I may suggest, try to recognize the Christ in your brother before you assume a job reserved to Him. Talk to those who disagree and don’t dismiss them so easily.

  • I think you’re making some jumps here or at least some assumptions we can’t know. At the heart of this I think it trust. Trust in Trump really. Is he worthy of trust? When he says the vetting being conducted isn’t good enough, people are asked to trust. Trust a man who has shown himself to consistently lie. Many will not only see that as hard, but at this point foolish because of the way he has conducted himself from the start of his race for president.

    We will always disagree on the motivation here. It’s fear that immigrants, including refugees who have been vetted and on lists for years, will come and do harm. And I’d argue it’s hard to say its Christian to ask first if the person will do later harm before we offer love, safety, support and mercy. The good Samaritan didn’t need a background check first.

    In a broader sense, the EO is entirely non-Christ like because it sees the nation as a primary allegiance. Christians ascribing to and supporting Trump need to find a way to reconcile his claim that it is American first. This EO is America first, which puts Jesus at best second.

  • Thank You for your reply. No….I avoid assumptions. Every election comes down to trust. The American people decided that Trump was the most trustworthy of the two. I don’t think most people liked the choices but still made the best decision considering. The American people decided despite the hyperbole and political noise expressed by Trump and Clinton. Regardless, our founders put in place to mitigate the effects an individual has on the workings of our society. Most American know that we don’t have a king. If that is no clear to the President, it will be clear after midterm elections.
    What people trusted in Trump was that he would at least keep his word and address the problems they face. The previous administration did not address these issues. Therefore, the congress changed and his party lost.
    Finally, the President’s first obligation is to the American people. He is not nor can he be the president of the world. When confronting the issues that make people desire to leave their country, it is responsible to analyze and deal with the causes. Syria is at war. Power and control is more important than the people. Mexico, on the other hand, is corrupt and violent. Both countries are fully capable of taking care of the people, if they chose to do so. Again, power is the determining factor. In both cases, do you honestly believe the solution is the depopulation of those countries to America.
    The accusation that Christians are not sincere or correct unless they give citizenship to all oppressed persons around the world, ridiculous. When evil people rule a country, this is the result. We can, should, and do help. In some cases, we give refuge. But in truth, the solution lies in those countries. To recognize this is not lacking in Christianity but understanding the nature of the problem. It is so much easier to belittle Americans you disagree with. You can’t really address evil leaders and make them change.

  • I think you did make a number of assumptions on behalf of people about their views on immigration, immigrants and how refugee view other refugees.

    This conversation in a lot of ways has drifted. Bringing it back to the original comments and article. Evangelicals can’t speak with one voice because they can’t align their politics and the faith. They struggle with American First or Jesus first. And they have let their fear move them towards America First. Jesus cares as much about the life of the American as he does the refugee as the does the illegal immigrant as he does the ISIS soldier. The USA does not and so its policies will not. That the tension between the Empire and the Kingdom.

    If Christians want to speak to the government on Christian values (which they seems to) a lack of consistent application weakens their voice and shows ti to be partisan.

    You haven’t convinced me (and i doubt I you) that the restrictions are based in anything but fear. And that fear drives actions that are anti-intellectual because there are better ways to build the desired saftey, and the actions ignore the far and away greater threats to saftey.

  • I didn’t know that Christians were obligated to speak in a monolithic voice. I thought that concept was corrected with the Reformation. Am I the only person to interpret the constitution as an instrument that supports and protects the individual and his/hers right to personal belief. This is what I understand all Christians to believe. Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again. Until that coming, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves as we speak and live the gospel.

    I suggest you speak more to those Christians. I realize that you may be forced to reevaluate your understanding of Christians but maybe that is a risk worth taking.

    The issue I may have with ISIS soldiers or anyone else is not who they are. They are creations of God worthy of love and respect. It is what they DO or may do that is of issue. Our laws do not correct who a person is but what that person does.
    The Constitution gives everyone the right to live by and practice his values. It does not give them the right to limit or deny anyone else living within their values.

    You don’t seem to believe that Christians are capable of individual thought. I am sorry we are not the catatonic drones some think we are. Believe it or not many Christians are men and women with chests, C.S. Lewis. As such I find that I am forced to think. I understand enough about love to comprehend my limitations in that regard. However, because of God’s grace, I learn more on how to live in it. It has been my experience that true love is not pity, it is empowerment. The evil doers in this world can should be removed. If Syrians and Mexican or anyone else is not willing to do so then who will. I am no mans judge. But tell me how good people can stand up to evil when they aren’t there. If they are willing to resist, I am obligated to stand with them.

    Finally, I understand why someone would come here to do better. I also understand that there is a reason to do things the right way. I appreciate the fact that other lives are significantly impacted when not done correctly. It is respect sir. People know when they are disrespected. It is as simple as that. It not that people don’t want to be hospitable. They don’t appreciate being taken advantage of. The law reflects the will of the people. It is not fear Mr. Mills. It is respect.

  • We seem bound to disagree.

    I feel as soon as we move to our rights we are moving away from Jesus or at the very least moving him down the line. The law gives many rights, but holding to those rights I think often makes us less like Jesus not more. I think his life modeled a life of sacrificing rights, life, saftey and power for the least of these.

    I think i will bow out at this point. the last word is yours.

  • I pose this question in all sincerity: In light of Jesus’ commands to love your enemies and not resist an evil person, why aren’t Lutherans pacifists?

  • Regarding Christian Realism: Obey Christ and let God deal with the consequences of your obedience.

  • Yes, it’s comforting to have our government shield us from having to make hard choices as Christians. If it keeps scary people away from us we don’t have to love them.

  • “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person.” The previous concept of ‘an eye for an eye’ made perfectly good sense. It satisfied our desire for justice, and promised deterrence. Jesus could have left it in place (and many of us wish he had). Instead he chose to overturn it and replace it with a new standard of behavior for those who would follow him. If you aren’t supposed to respond to someone gouging out your eye or breaking your teeth, at what point in the assault are you authorized to stop loving your enemy and say: “You just crossed the line, now you’re gonna DIE!” How do you know if they’re going to kill you, and if so, that Jesus wants you to kill them first? As far as we know He didn’t say, “This doesn’t apply to people trying to kill you. They’re in a different category that will unfortunately go unrecorded by my biographers.”

  • Thank You for your response. This verse was difficult for me to accept but also to do. There was always a limit to how far I could go. Whether I gave my cloak depended on circumstance. I admit this only because I know we all are faced with the same challenge. What often helps me I the read the entire passage, Matthew 5:38-49. As I read the passage I became more convicted in the understanding that what was required was impossible for me to do. Then at the passages end it call me to perfection. This is something I know that I am incapable of. So now what. Well I realize that god has not left me alone in this. I do understand that as I submit to Him, He replaces me with Him, I do his will. The degree I “help” or not is His will not mine. If I am to accept persecution in the form of being slap, torture, or death is for Him to determine, not me. I would note that the passage does not call us to death. If I am to give all or up to a point is His determination, not mine. I do know that God will reveal is will though personal revelation or circumstance.

    I determined that I am also called to oppose the effects of evil, Psalm 82:1-4. While God does not “need” me to accomplish His will. He can and will use me. Throughout the scripture, we are call to defend the innocent and defend what is just. In a democratic republic, we are called to discuss and debate just how we are to approach this. In the case of Syria, we can and should debate what we are to do. Whether we accept refugees, create and defend safe zones, or introduce troops, this is to be decided as a people and as Christians in prayer. As Christians, we submit to His will. We have not even begun the process. If done, we as a people can act in confidence and hopefully His will.

    I see no contradiction between Matthew and Psalms if we as individuals and as a people do everything in consultation, respect, and for me in prayer.

  • I am very much a pacifist, but I’m not going to allow anyone to beat me up. Nor anyone else, if I can help it. I’m in favor of everyone being pacifists. Unfortunately, much of the population appears to disagree with me.
    Are you thinking about the “turn the other cheek” text too? I suppose there are many different interpretations.

  • “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” (Matthew 5:38-39) I think that, rather than addressing a local face-slapping epidemic as some might claim, when Jesus said “turn the other cheek” he knew the next blow(s) could be fatal. He also knew it risked an emboldened enemy moving on to other victims.

  • “local face-slapping epidemic”

    Made me laugh. I think your understanding of it makes a lot of sense.

  • What is so sad, is that a pro-life Supreme Court justice can’t and never will be able to fix the actual problem… that is; some women want to terminate a pregnancy and will continue to want to do that, no matter who is in the Supreme Court! And so these white evangelicals make a deal with the devil, for something that can’t even work! I also think a lot of them don’t realize what Roe v Wade actually did and have no clue that if that is overturned, the decision then goes to the states. This is where the anti-intellectualism rears its head again, but I think a lot of them think that abortion ends when the decision is overturned…(when of course it won’t) That’s why they’re so eager to make this farce of deal. SAD.

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