I saw this meme with a picture of Jeff Foxworthy saying, “If you think it’s a good idea to bring in refugees who hate your country, your religion, and your culture…you might be a moron!” This meme made me feel the need to address this mindset and discuss Syrian refugees again. First, there is absolutely zero evidence that Jeff Foxworthy ever made this statement, and I doubt he did esspecially since he didn’t say what has been attributed to him about Muslims. Now, as a lover of history, let’s allow some facts to help shape our opinions.
First, there are many Muslims in Syria. That is true, but are you aware that Syria is one of the most ancient seats of Christianity. Much of the foundation of Christianity was laid in what is modern day Syria and the surounding area. They have loved Christ for a millennia and a half before America was discovered.
The Syriac Orthodox Church has been active from the earliest stages of Christianity. There is evidence that several books of the bible were written in and around modern day Syria such as Matthew and Luke. The Apostle Paul gave his life to Jesus in Syria. Also, there are other early significant Christian writings from the Syrian area such as the Didache, Gospel of Thomas, and the Diatessaron. In fact, the Diatessaron is quite possibly the earliest translation of the Gospels (that were written in Greek) into the common language of the people, Syriac, in the 2nd century. To put that into some context, the Western Church strangled William Tyndale to death and then burned his body for translating the bible into English, the language of his people, in the 16th century because they did not want commoners to be reading the bible.
It took us Western Christans over 1400 years after the Syrian area to decide that people reading the bible for themselves is a good thing.
Then, the Ottoman Empire conquered Syria in 1516, and what did the Syriac Orthodox Church do with all these Muslims invading and conquering their homeland that hate their religion? They stood and continue to stand in the faith of Jesus Christ. There are over 5 million Syriac Orthodox Church members that are mostly found in Syria, Iraq, and Turkey. To put that in some context, my denomination the Southern Baptists have lost over 200,000 members from 2014 to 2015 in “Christian” America, while the Syriac Orthodox Church still stood in the Middle East.
Just to be clear, there are many Christians among the refugees that have fled and are fleeing Syria. When we turn our back on Syrian refugees, we are turning our backs on many Christian brothers and sisters too.
When people group all Syrians into the category of terrorists that hate us, it makes me sad that they are so unaware of the Syriac Christians that live out their faith in the midst of terror we cannot fathom, while we are going nuts over wedding cakes. We should learn form Syrian Christains, that have and are evangelizing Syria, Iraq, Turkey, India, and Europe, where Western Christianity is shrinking!
I get angry when people say we should not let Muslims into our country because how are we going to know if someone is a Muslim? Is it going to be check box on some form? Are you a Muslim? No, people can lie on the check box. Are we going to have religion experts examine every person’s faith upon entering our country? No, that would be too costly in time and resources. How would a Muslim ban go? We would persecute people due to their skin color and ethnic descent. If they look Middle Eastern, they are banned. This would cause us to ban an entire denomination, the Syriac Orthodox Church, whose faith amidst adversity should inspire us, daily.
You might be thinking, “But we will keep terrorists out!!! If we keep one terrorist out, persecuting an entire race, multiple religions, and multiple nationalities will be worth it.”
My response to that is Matthew 5:44-47, “44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same?”
Refusing refugees is not a loving act. There is still zero evidence that a single Syrian Refugee has committed or planned an act of terror in the U.S. In fact, of the 784,000 refugees relocated by the United Stated since September 11, 2001, only three, THREE, have been arrested for planning acts of terror with two of the three, planning an act outside the United States. Neither of those three were refugees from Syria.
Let’s do some math. This gives our government, with over 14 years of data, a 99.9996173% success rate in its refugee relocation program. You have a better chance of catching a bacteria from eating an apple sliced on a cutting board that was soaked in Clorox than a refugee relocated to the United States committing an act of terror anywhere in the world. Also, zero of the 784,000 have successfully commited an act of terror on American soil. That is a 100% success rate in preventing acts of terror on Americal soil. Again, these facts are supported by 14 years of data.
Our government refugee program does an amazing job of vetting refugees, which is an incredibly difficult task. No one can question that fact and their success. Closing our boarders to Syrains will cause us to turn our backs on Christians from one of the oldest denominations in the world. Closing our doors to Muslims will cause us to turn our backs on the words of Jesus who commanded us to love more than our friends who think and believe like we do.
If people are determined to racial profile people of Middle Eastern decent, let me give you one more history lesson. When the United States targets an entire people group, we commit some of the darkest atrocities in our history. When we targeted blacks as not having “our values,” the United States created Jim Crow Laws and Seperate but Equal. When we targeted Asian Americans during World War II, we came up with Japanese Interment Camps that incarcerated over 100,000 people unjustly.
When we as Americans target a group of people for the protection of other groups, we undoubtedly commit atrocities. Let’s not add Syrain refugees and Middle Easterners to the list of, Native Americans, African Americans and Asian Americans, of people we have wronged greatly. Terrorists commit acts of terror, not an ethnic group. Our government has done an unquestionably great job of vetting refugees.
Let’s not allow our fear and bigotry to make Lady Liberty a liar, as she proclaims, “Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Let’s lift the lamp.
I want refugees to come. I want Christians of this great nation to open our hearts to these refugees to share our love, share our faith, and share our friendship. If they are our friends, let’s support them. If they are our enemies, let’s follow the command of Christ, love them, and share the transforming power of the gospel with them. If this makes me a moron to care for Middle Easterners, than that will be a badge I will wear with pride.