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Why I think the refugee situation is an apt application of Christian ethics

Posted by Chance on January 14, 2016

Concerning the Syrian refugee situation, people who support refugees have invoked the compassionate side of Christ to support their cause.  Many have done this before in other situations, and in my opinion, have done so incorrectly.  In this case, however, I think it’s the correct approach.

People who support liberal economic policies have tried using Christian ethics of compassion and helping the poor for their cause.  I have disagreed with this, though, because the very nature of compassion and helping the poor has always been one of a voluntary nature in the New Testament.  Furthermore, Jesus’ way of doing things when He was on earth never involved gaining political power or forcing people to do things.  Also, I think the government’s efforts to help people are usually misguided.

However, the issue of letting refugees come is not an issue of the government so much actively doing something, but not actively preventing something.  I don’t think the government should do things to actively promote Christ’s kingdom, but I don’t think it should do things to prevent it either.  When the government prevents people from coming to the country, that is an active thing. I’m not saying government should have no role in protecting/enforcing borders, but I, on the whole, support letting whoever wants to come here, to come here.  I think any regulations and laws concerning immigration should be focused on security, and not out of trying to regulate the economy or preserve a certain culture.

As far as the security issue, Cato has touched on this.

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.  The terrorist threat from Syrian refugees in the United States is hyperbolically over-exaggerated and we have very little to fear from them because the refugee vetting system is so thorough.

I guess one could argue that we shouldn’t let anyone come here since there is any threat at all, but I think this idea has philosophical ramifications that don’t align well with Christ either.

Now, letting refugees come is not a financially neutral issue.  Some money is involved in letting refugees come and set up camp.  But I feel like this money is incidental to the whole issue at hand.  Refugees, and immigrants on the whole for the matter, are not simply financial sponges; they can get jobs and contribute as much as any of us.  Furthermore, private giving to the cause is always welcome.

So, unfortunately, people have used the name of Christ to expand government dramatically and use simplistic thinking for bad economic ideas, and so the cries of using Christian compassion may fall on deaf ears, especially among conservative circles.  But I think, in this case, Christian compassion is an applicable argument, as it means the government isn’t preventing the application of Christian values.

 

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