February 1, 2017
WE ARE PRO-REFUGEE AND PRO-SECURITY: THE REFUGEE EXECUTIVE ORDER AND OUR PHILOSOPHY ON PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT
We have recently been both praised and criticized for taking a public stand regarding the executive order on immigrants and refugees. Our critics have quite reasonably asked us why we would take a policy stand on this issue. The following is our view on how we use our voice on behalf of those we serve.
Our mission is to empower the church to serve the most vulnerable. When public policy poses a threat to either or both of these mandates, we feel obligated to use our voice. We seek to do so wisely and with respect for the leadership whose authority we live under. Nonetheless, we consider it part of our calling not to stay silent when important matters are at stake.
Some have asked if we are opposing a candidate or a party; we are not. We never have and never will. While each of our staff has their own political leanings, we take no position on candidates or parties as an organization.
If, however, we understand politics to be the “art of public policy,” we will enter that discussion with conviction. In fact, we believe that to use our voice is part of our biblical call as we seek to influence legislation and public policy on issues that we believe impact the nation. (See For the Health of The Nation, written by our parent organization the NAE). So, on one day we may be speaking at “Evangelicals for Life,” and the next day speak out on the need for immigration reform.
Some may consider this advocacy for a cause and they would be right. We believe it is our obligation to use our voice on behalf of those who have none.
If we consider some of the great movements of the past centuries, it is the people of God who were central in changing public policy on the abolition of slavery, the care of orphans, improvements in the quality and availability of public health, and education. We do not believe that our Christian faith excuses us from the public discourse but in fact demands it.
In addition to advocating for the powerless and suffering, we have heard from many evangelical pastors and leaders that our voice helps them find theirs. Often pastors do not have time to study issues in detail on their own. Other times, they have a point of view, but find additional courage to act and speak when they know they are not alone. In this way we feel we can empower the churches, a critical part of our calling.
It could be asked why we have been vocal on this particular issue. Several factors compel us:
- We are witnesses to the greatest displacement of people the world has known. We have been called to live out our faith in a day marked by enormous displacement and suffering. People are fleeing their cities and homes, they are wandering, cold, hungry, and unwelcomed. We must act and speak on their behalf. We work both in the U.S. and abroad to address these needs. And we are calling the church and the culture as a whole to compassion.
- In this time of crisis, the executive order issued completely closes the door to refugees already traumatized and forsaken, most of whom (70%) are women and children. It also keeps families separated. Approximately 70% of all refugees resettled by World Relief are for family reunification.
- The call for safety (a moratorium followed by a dramatic reduction in refugees to be admitted and likely indefinite ban on some nations) is based on misunderstood and often exaggerated claims of the danger posed by this population. Since the inception of the refugee program, three million refugees have been admitted to the United States. In this time, there has not been one American life lost to an act of terrorism perpetrated by a refugee. The Cato institute has published a study that indicates that the likelihood of a U.S. Citizen being killed in a terrorist act committed by a refugee to be 1 in 3.64 billion.
- No refugee can choose to come to the United States. They are only admitted after being selected by the U.S. Department of State and after going through a vetting process by the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and other agencies that includes multiple interviews, biometric scanning, background checks etc. If there is any question about the security matters, the refugee is eliminated from the program.
- This is a matter of justice. Some of the most vulnerable people of an entire generation are being denied the compassion and care that have long been core American values.
In the end, while we respect and affirm the role of our government to establish sound security measures and set reasonable terms on refugee admissions, we call for a swift end to the moratorium and a raising of the level of refugees to be admitted.
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