Fox News “Christianity” & the Syrian Refugee Crisis

There has been much talk on social media this week about the Syrian Refugee Crisis. And I’ve held off on chiming in for as long as I could. But at this point, I can no longer remain silent. Because frankly, I’m mad.

I’ve seen a disturbing trend from many of my Christian brothers & sisters: deriving their worldview from Fox News instead of Scripture. Particularly on this issue; but I’m afraid it’s systemic of a larger problem.

The Memes

It started with a series of memes I saw posted by several friends on Facebook. They all said basically the same thing: “If  a bowl of M&Ms/gum balls had 10% of the candy poisoned with cyanide, would you be willing to grab a handful and shove it in your mouth?”

Or worse, a photo of dozens of rattlesnakes with the caption: “Can you tell me which of these rattlesnakes won’t bite you? Sure some of them won’t, but tell me which ones so we can bring them into the house.”

The issue I take with both of these memes is that the refugees are not M&Ms or rattlesnakes. They are image-bearers of God. And those Christians who have posted them, and with whom I have engaged in discussion, cannot (or will not) defend their position from Scripture.

This is why I think many are getting their worldview from Fox News. They are acting from fear. And fear is never the response Scripture will cause in the heart of the believer.

Terror?

Joel McDurmon wrote earlier today:

“…is it possible that if we accept Syrian refugees into the country, ISIS terrorists will sneak in with them and blow us up? All we need to ask about is the mere possibility of one terrorist, for that is all it takes. An inquiry about likelihood or probability may be interesting, but when life and freedom are at stake, we cannot take chances, right?

So is it possible? Absolutely.

But be consistent with this. Is it possible that the same terrorist will get in even if we don’t accept refugees? Again, the answer is “absolutely.”

So then the only difference is the likelihood. Is a terrorist more likely to get in if we do or if we don’t accept refugees? It seems intuitive that with a wave of thousands of Syrians, it would be more likely that the terrorist would sneak in. Such a wave would greatly burden any system of vetting, lowering the standards by which each individual gets screened.

But this hypothetical is not really well thought out. There is no threshold of degree in the level of screening any given individual that would make or break the decision to let them in. The tools by which people are rejected are objective, black and white. The red flag goes up or it doesn’t. If they would get through in a stream of a thousand Syrians, they would get through if they came among the standard stream of international arrivals.

The bottom line here is this: if a terrorist is motivated enough commit an act of terror, they will find a way to get here no matter what.”

I would simply add that to be afraid of an entire people group is simply racism. And there is no room for racism in the Christian worldview: “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both [Israel AND the nations] one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14 ESV).

Politics v. Gospel

There are two issues here: politics and the Gospel. And if we confuse or blur the lines between the two, we will likely arrive at an unbiblical position. I can almost guarantee you that American politicians, on both sides of the aisle, are simply doing what they think they need to do to keep their constituents satisfied (read, “in order for them to be re-elected”).

And make no mistake: Fox News wants certain candidates to be our next President. And that certainly impacts what they say.

But should this affect (or determine) the Christian’s worldview?

No! The only factor that should hold sway in how Christians view this issue is what God has said. So…what has God said?

Welcome the Stranger

“You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”

— Leviticus 19:34 ESV

“And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.””

— Luke 10:25-37 ESV

You Go, and Do Likewise

Is it scary? Yeah! It’s terrifying to think that there may be a stream of people coming into “our” land and among them may be those who intend us harm.

But Jesus told His disciples, “…do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28 ESV; c.f., Luke 12:4).

Klinton Silvey wrote a few days ago, “For years and years and years it has been nearly impossible to get missionaries (even sneakily) into parts of the Middle East. It’s so dangerous, some, assuming they can even get in, are likely to be killed so quickly they can’t do much evangelizing. And now, hundreds of thousands of beaten, hurting, orphaned, widowed (google “pure and undefiled religion) and broken people are trying to come to US.

Why would we not as Christians rejoice at this opportunity to “do justice, and to love kindness” (Micah 6:8)? Why would we simply say, “‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body” (James 2:16)?

“…whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them…” (Matthew 7:12).

To me this seems to be a no-brainer. You and I were refugees, and not only did Christ welcome us, He died because of us. Are we willing to lay our lives down for the Gospel? Based on the response I’ve seen on social media this week, the answer is kind of discouraging.

#PrayForISIS

But at the very least, if you don’t agree with me (and I would argue, if you don’t agree with the Bible) on this issue, will you please pray for the image bearers of God who are part of ISIS? Will you pray for the Syrian refugees? And ask God to help you to see them as He sees them?

God of Mercy, You have welcomed me—not only a refugee, but a rebel. May my heart not be like the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-35), or the Pharisee who looked down upon the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14), but like the Savior, Who, while we were still sinners, died for us (Romans 5:8). May I have this mind in me, which is mine in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:1-11). In Christ’s name. Amen.

3 thoughts on “Fox News “Christianity” & the Syrian Refugee Crisis

  1. Brother, as much as I respect your post and agree on an individual level, I do feel like some element of biblical teaching has been at a wholistic level has not been addressed. I agree that the consrvative news outlets have done a terrible job of representing Christians in there hate and fear mongering. We still are called to go and make disciples of every nation, seeking their spiritual and physical well-being. If we did our job in transforming these cultures by Gospel living and proclamation, this issue would not exist. We would not be the one country that accepts 20% of the world’s refugees while everyone else refuses to help.

    Also, people need to be able to discern the difference between refugees/sojourners and illegal immigrants. Every nation has had boundaries, including Israel, to protect its citizens, which is the central purpose of every government. We may not like our nation’s laws as they pertain to immigration and refugees, but we are still called to "submit to all authority." Which makes even more sense when these laws are in place for the good of other citizens as well. We don’t get to ignore laws out of convenience. But we do continue to pray for and seek tangible means of legally helping those in less fortunate.

    Just some more stuff to think about, in a really complex argument. Thanks again for the article. It really got me thinking about this in a new light.

    1. As a point of clarification, I’m not referring here to what the government should do, but how Christians should respond if refugees do come.

      Thank you for your thoughtful input here, Casey. It’s much appreciated.

  2. Your post is certainly challenging and thought provoking which is missing in our country / culture today. I hope that you will read my comments with the grace intended. I merely hope to give fuel for thought.

    You make an excellent point that there are two issues here — politics and the gospel. However, as Christians, we do participate in the political process and part of that process can be a dialogue (not necessarily memes) about the decisions made by our government and the validity of our next president taking one stance or another.

    It is also true that there is a critical difference between discussion about the government stance on Syrian refugees and our personal decisions on how we treat people of all people groups — one that few people understand (including Christians as well as news media and those holding political office).

    In my opinion, saying "I want a President who takes a particular stance" is very different from being racist (as you put it).

    As a very loose analogy, I welcome many people into my home. But there are many that would not welcome into my home because I would be negligent of my God-given duty to protect my family.

    Saying that we should pray for and witness to people who associate with ISIS is one thing, but that doesn’t mean that it is racist to believe (and voice that belief) that our elected officials have a responsibility to apply wisdom.

    The argument you quote by Joel McDurmon seems rather weak to me. Yes, if a terrorist wants to enter the country to do harm, they will find a way (or they will at least), however, this does not negate the government from applying wisdom to make it as difficult as they can for such terrorists to succeed.

    There is certainly a responsibility for sharing the Gospel, and there is also a responsibility for taking reasonable precautions.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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