Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Open Doors

Okay, so this is my token contribution to the continuance of Syrian refugees in the US.

First: When I heard about the attacks in Paris, one of my first thoughts was the worry that this would encourage world leaders to shut their doors on refugees and asylum-seekers. Thankfully, this has not happened.

Second: I heard backlash against President Obama along the lines of "We need to have better screening. We can't just open our borders to thousands of refugees, some of whom may be terrorists!" (Yes, this was the first I'd heard of Obama's announcement. Don't judge me; I'm in medical school.)

Third: I saw many Christians welcoming the refugees and castigating the other Christians and conservatives for wanting to slam the door.

Now, as we all know, Facebook is the world's most accurate source of information and news. Even so, I decided to do a little digging of my own. Why? Well, because I recognise what the Bible says about loving foreigners and asylum-seekers, both in the Old Testament and the New.

Some good examples may be found here:

To further set an example, we were once considered strangers to the kingdom of God (Eph 2:11-19, Col 1:21-22)

As Christians, this should be our first point of reference: "What does the Bible say on this?"

In addition to the Bible, a clear understanding of what has actually been said and elaborated upon should probably be obtained from credible sources, not the rumour mill. 

What's most easily accessible is the number of Republican party members, all presidential hopefuls, pushing to stop the influx of refugees, citing national security. Note, these are presidential hopefuls and this is immediately following the Paris bombing, in which one suspect was, allegedly, a Syrian refugee. Is there an element of caution? Yes. Is there an element of bi-partisan power playing going on? Very likely. Are these individuals hoping to garner the increasingly xenophobic conservative ballot? Most definitely.

Something of interest, though, is that Obama made the plans to permit up to ~10k refugees way back in September and nobody batted an eyelid. All of two months ago, he made that statement and assured the public and the press that they would follow due process in granting asylum papers, a process which, for the US, is far longer than most countries. In this case, it's actually close to 1 1/2 years worth of paperwork. That means it'd be 2017 before any of these current refugees actually have their papers.

Yes, we get the comments coming from the Right that the US is most likely the main target for extremists - what else is new? Yes, we get that we don't know who these people are - that's why the long vetting process.

The more I read, the more I am convinced that this issue has become a red herring and echo chamber for conservatives who keep to Fox News and/or conservative tabloids such as Conservative Tribune. Now, I'm not knocking Fox, but when you know your news media has a bias, shouldn't you also read from another source - and not the conservative editorials of other sources - to find out the other side of the issue?

As for not having Syria's co-operation in completing the vetting process, yes that throws a wrench in the works, but it's one that, with a year and a half-long application process, should be worked over in time for the first wave to arrive. Hopefully

So, what does this mean? It means, we can take down the xenophobic posters we've just plastered all over our Facebook pages. You know, these ones:

Instead, we can respect our government (you know, that passage in Romans 13), trust that God will honour the good they seek to do, and trust that the plans set in place for our protection will work. After all, if we die, we see Christ. If we live, we have a greater opportunity for sharing the Gospel. 

I don't know about you, but I'm with Paul on this one. "To live is Christ. To die is gain"