It was a matter of time before popular megachurch pastors started to weigh in on the ongoing refugee debate in America. Andy Stanley has entered the fray with last Sunday’s message – “The (Not So) United States of America.” Referring to the refugee crisis as “the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time,” he made the case for – and against – letting in more refugees.
Before we speak to the issues, let’s put the numbers in perspective. The outcry from the left redefines hypocrisy. While blasting President Trump’s plan to limit the refugee flow from designated countries, they forget the record of the past five years. How many Syrian refugees did the Obama administration admit to the United States? In the five years of 2011 to 2016, they admitted a total of just 1,883, or 377 per year.
Now for the argument.
The argument for increasing refugee flow is simple. As a nation of immigrants, as caring and compassionate people, we should do all we can to rescue the victims of religious persecution who face living conditions unimaginable to the average American. As believers, we are to care “for the least of these” as we love others with our collective heart, mind, soul, and strength.
Stanley bragged that his church has been “caring for refugees before caring about refugees was cool.” They have ministered to refugees for years. His church has raised over $1 million to address the problem and bless refugees. How can any nation that purports to be Christian on any level ignore this humanitarian crisis? How can we keep these people – loved by God just as much as any American – out of our country while claiming to love them as God loves us?
But it’s not that easy. Stanley rightly proclaimed, “Compassion and generosity inform our legal system, but we must not allow them to undermined our legal system.” He continued, “We are not a nation of compassion. We are a nation of laws.” Stanley then cited data that confirms that 40 refugees, fully vetted, have become radicalized since entering America. They present a danger to our nation.
Here’s the summation. In modern culture, many issues have clear, black-and-white Christian responses. The refugee crisis is not one of those issues. What is indisputable is our responsibility to love everyone – regardless of their nationality. What is disputable is how this is to be carried out in a nation that was founded on Christian-Judeo principles.
The current refugee crisis has no easy answers. Universal agreement on a Christian response is neither likely nor necessary. What is necessary is that whatever our response may be – it must be informed by sound judgement and loving compassion.