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02/01/2017

DONALD TRUMP AND THE STRANGER

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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