Evangelist Franklin Graham says he supports President Donald Trump's executive order temporarily barring refugees from seven countries, saying it is the responsibility of the church, not the government to come to the aid of refugees.
When asked about how Christians should approach the subject, he told CBN News:
"Well, Jerusalem had walls...and it had gates...and those gates were closed at night or when threats came, those gates were closed and the walls were their borders. Listen, I have locks on my house and it’s not because I’m angry at the people outside or I’m mad at them, but because I love the people on the inside and at night I lock my doors."
Graham said it's necessary to give closer scrutiny to all immigrants who want to come to America.
"We are a nation and we need to protect our borders. There are threats today, that did not have even 10 years ago. We need extreme vetting, not just for seven nations, we need extreme vetting for everyone coming into this country and I don’t care what country you come from, we should know who you are, what you stand for, what you believe. If you don’t support our democracy and our freedom and the liberty that we cherish, don’t come, you’re not welcome. And I think that should be for all people of all nations, we need to be far more selective of who we allow into this country we’ve had this open door policy for too long, we cannot afford it. It is at our own peril if we continue that way."
However, Graham said in a recent Facebook post, that Trump's policy by no means relieves Christians from the God-given duty to aid refugees.
"The president's job is not the same as the job of the church. As Christians we are clearly taught in the Bible to care for the poor and oppressed," Graham wrote.
"As Christians we are commanded to help all, regardless of religious background or ethnicity, like the Good Samaritan Jesus shared about in the Bible. Our job is to show God's love and compassion."
Graham says he supports safe zones in Syria and Iraq that are protected by the international community until a political solution is found. He says Christians should help provide for and manage those refugee camps.
Since 2014, Operation Blessing International has been in the war-torn areas of the Middle East, supplying fresh food, bedding, diapers and other necessities to refugees who were forced to flee their homes on a moment's notice.
Saudi Arabia's King Salman, in a telephone call on Sunday with President Trump, agreed to support safe zones in Syria and Yemen, a White House statement said.
And in an interview with CBN News, President Trump told CBN News Chief Political Correspondent David Brody that Christian refugees fleeing from the Middle East to America should take priority.
"They've been horribly treated. Do you know if you were a Christian in Syria it was impossible, at least very tough to get into the United States? If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible and the reason that was so unfair, everybody was persecuted in all fairness, but they were chopping off the heads of everybody but more so the Christians. And I thought it was very, very unfair. So we are going to help them," President Trump said.
Nevertheless, David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, an organization whose mission is to help Christian refugees, said in a statement that he opposes President Trump's plan to prioritize Christians.
"We stand for a need-based resettlement approach that treats all faiths equally. We can't support a religious test in the United States, or in any other country. Policies akin to this drive horrendous persecution of Christians around the globe. A process that prioritizes one religion over another, as the Trump administration has proposed, can have negative effects not just in America, but around the world," Curry said.
On the other hand, Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom said in a statement that Christians should be prioritized.
"Of the 12,587 Syrian refugees admitted under the ramped-up refugee program during the last fiscal year, a mere 0.5 percent were Christians, equivalent to about a dozen families. Yet, by State Department estimates, Christians accounted for up to 10 percent of Syria's population," Shea said.
"The State Department argued it was already prioritizing the 'vulnerable minorities.' But in several aspects, the Christians were in reality put at the back of the line," she said.