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'We Will Always Welcome Refugees.' Evangelicals Rejecting Trump's Ban

01-27-2017
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Several evangelical groups are not happy with President Donald Trump's proposed executive order to temporarily ban refugees from Muslim countries.

Due to terrorism concerns, Trump wants to stop accepting Syrian refugees and will suspend the U.S. refugee program for 120 days. That's according to a draft executive order obtained by The Associated Press.

"In order to protect Americans, we must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward our country and its founding principles," the order reads.

The draft also shows the U.S. suspending visas for people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen for at least 30 days.

The Christian Post reports the administration is working on the final wording of the order and that it is expected to be signed as early as Friday.

Christian aid organizations such as World Relief oppose the move, saying compassion is what is needed.

The group says on its website, "We will always welcome refugees."

"Our concern is that this action really does further traumatize a group of people that have already borne so much tragedy," said Scott Arbeiter, president of World Relief, in an interview with Christianity Today. "The human toll is really crushing."

CT reports that World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), took on 11,000 cases and enlisted volunteers from roughly 1,200 churches.

"Most refugees from the Middle East are women and children who have suffered the assaults of ISIS terrorists and civil war," NAE President Leith Anderson said in a statement opposing Trump's order. "We have the opportunity to rescue, help, and bless some of the world's most oppressed and vulnerable families."

While fear prevents some Christian churches in America from helping refugees coming into the country, others are stepping up to help the displaced.

According to a 2016 LifeWay survey, one in five pastors in the U.S. said their church is helping refugees overseas, and one in three have addressed the Syrian refugee crisis from the pulpit. 

They found that 80 percent of the pastors surveyed consider it a "privilege" to care for refugees, while one in eight (or 13 percent) disagrees.

Many are helping refugees with learning to read and write English, transitioning to American culture, and with finding a place to live.

CBN News has highlighted several churches that are ministering to refugees from Syria and other places. 

Reporter Abigail Robertson traveled to Iowa to show how one church has been transformed and revived by its refugee outreach. 

Many point to the mission as a biblical one.

"The question for the American Christian is: Will we speak out on behalf of those who are running from the very terror that we are rightly trying to put an end to?" Arbeiter asked. "People who are running from Mosul and Aleppo and a thousand other places on fire?"

"Would we be willing to accept giving up a one in three billion chance of our safety in order to make room for them?" he continued. "Or would we say, 'I am not willing to give up even the smallest fraction of my safety to welcome people who have been vetted very carefully, who have been proven as a remarkable population of people. Will I not make room for them?'"

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