National security often gets linked to immigration, which itself significantly boosts the US Christian population; Trump’s order marks the most drastic changes in refugee policy since the wake of 9/11.
Still, two-thirds of Protestant senior pastors (67%) believe the United States can balance national security interests with compassion when assisting refugees, according to LifeWay’s 2016 survey. The Southern Baptist Convention passed a similar resolution at its annual meeting last year.
Last month, more than 100 evangelical leaders gathered at the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College seeking to better respond to the refugee crisis. Organizers of the GC2 conference affirmed the Christian command and privilege to care for refugees, stating, “We will not be motivated by fear but by love for God and others.”
Signers of the declaration included: Ed Stetzer, [then] executive director of LifeWay Research; Rich Stearns, president of World Vision; Stephan Bauman, [then] president and CEO of World Relief; Jo Anne Lyon, general superintendent of The Wesleyan Church; Frank Page, CEO of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention; Alton Garrison, assistant general superintendent of the Assemblies of God; Jamie Aten, director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute; and Sue Elworth, vice president of development, marketing, and communications of the Willow Creek Association.
According to a Pew survey conducted before the election, about two-thirds of white evangelicals (67%) and mainline Protestants (65%) believe that America does not have a moral responsibility to accept Syrian refugees. Overall, 40 percent of American voters agreed.
In a March 2016 cover story reporting on the refugee crisis from Iraq and Greece, CT noted:
Prior to Paris, three-quarters of self-identified “committed Christians” in America said they were willing to help Syrian refugees, according to an Ipsos poll sponsored by World Vision. However, only 44 percent had already done so.
Of the one-quarter of committed Christians who were not willing to help, 34 percent said it was because they feared that refugees were potential terrorists, while 24 percent felt the problem was too big for them to make a difference.
LifeWay also found that only 1 in 3 evangelical pastors have addressed the refugee crisis from the pulpit. A prior survey found that only 2 percent of evangelicals get their information on international migration to America from their local church, while 12 percent cited the Bible. The two combined were fewer than those who rely on the media. “Most evangelical Christians are not thinking as Christians on the issue,” said Matthew Soerens, World Relief’s church training specialist. “Most see newcomers as a threat or a burden. Only 4 in 10 see a gospel opportunity.”
“We have never had an opportunity like we have right now to reach people who are coming to our shores, in many cases from places we have no access to,” said Arbeiter. “The risk that we have right now is that we are closing the doors to the very people that we say we want to share the gospel with.”