For Christians, in the 25th chapter of Matthew, Jesus makes clear that how we treat “the stranger” is how we treat him. That’s what the Gospel text says. And the “stranger” means immigrants and refugees — the citizens of other nations living and traveling among us. Therefore, this is a faith issue for us as Christians. Donald Trump’s executive order on “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” is in conflict with our Christian faith, and we will oppose it as a matter of faith. President Trump’s executive order is not about security; it is about ideology. All of us want and value security. But these refugees have already been thoroughly vetted. They are mostly women and children who have had to flee situations of violent conflict — for their very lives. They are in danger; they are not a danger. They are refugees fleeing from violence, not the agents of violence toward us. The world’s experts on refugees around the globe clearly contradict what the ideologues of the new White House are saying. This is a political policy, not a rational one. This is a cruel policy aimed at refugee families in great need and danger; not a protective policy for American families. This is a payback policy aimed at satisfying a political base that has become hostile and hateful to refugees and immigrants. This is a dangerous policy that is already alienating our partners around the world, will be used by our enemies to recruit against us, and will make us less safe. We will oppose the executive order as a matter of faith. This is also a policy aimed at a religion: The seven nations cited are Muslim-majority nations. Furthermore, the executive order directs the government to prioritize admittance of refugees (both as possible exceptions to the current ban and to get special treatment when and if the refugee ban is lifted) who suffer “religious persecution” and belong to “minority religions” in their countries. This amounts to showing preferential treatment for Christian refugees over Muslim refugees, which President Trump admitted to a Christian broadcaster. Giving special treatment to Christians fleeing violence over Muslims doing the same is both religiously offensive — to many of us who are Christian — and contrary to America’s best and constitutional values. This policy is also aimed at race: The Muslims being banned by this order are primarily people of color; and their targeting is directly related to the white nationalist ideology that has now taken up office in the White House, which is a great danger to America’s future. The use of religion and race for political purposes undermines the United States’ fundamental commitment to being a pluralist and democratic society. Christian leaders who supported Donald Trump must speak up as Christians against policies that attack “the strangers” for their religion and their race. Christian leaders who supported Donald Trump should also stand in opposition to Donald Trump’s recent re-embracing of torture — which is contrary to Christian values and principles. Torture is anti-Christian, most Christians believe that, and all of us must now say that again. Whether it’s the banning of refugees, the targeting of another religion, the subtle or direct appeals to racism, or the endorsement of torture, it is time to speak truth to power. Religious leaders must speak up against these moral choices of our new president. There is more than politics at stake here; at stake is the integrity of our faith and the future of our country. (Jim Wallis is president of Sojourners)


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