The Executive Order

Refugees, National Security and a Biblical Worldview

How should we as Christians think about President Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees?

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John Stonestreet

Biblical clarity in this cultural moment. That’s central to the mission of the Colson Center. And after the release of President Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees, and the resulting chaos of misinformation and hysteria, this is a moment when we need clarity.

So here’s a framework for thinking Christianly about the intertwined issues of refugees, immigrants, and national security.

Let’s start with clarity about what the order says. First, contrary to media, protesters, and Hollywood actors, the executive order was not a ban on Muslims, or on immigration, nor was it a radical break from U. S. policy. The order temporarily bans entry to the U. S. for those holding passports from seven nations previously identified by the Obama Administration as “countries of concern.”

The order also directs administration officials to develop a plan for uniform screening, it suspends the refugee program for four months and bars refugees from Syria indefinitely.

In addition, the order caps the number of refugees this year at 50,000, which, as David French noted in the National Review, is roughly in between what President Bush and President Obama would allow in a year. In fact, in 2011, President Obama himself suspended admitting Iraqi refugees for six months.

The order also prioritizes refugee status for persecuted religious minorities, which President Trump admitted is designed to give priority to persecuted Christians, and it allows for case-by-case waivers.

So, that’s what the order says. But how was it implemented? By all accounts, not well. There was initial confusion over whether green card holders—that is, permanent residents of the U. S.—would be allowed to return from overseas travel. Some legal residents were detained before Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly stated Sunday they’d be eligible for re-entry. And lawmakers on both sides of the aisle lamented the confusion and uncertainty, calling for better coordination between government agencies and Congress.

Even now, things seem to be changing by the moment.

So which key biblical worldview principles can we bring to bear on all of this?

daily_commentary_01_31_17First and foremost, every human being is made in the image of God. Christians must start here, and therefore may never write off or refuse to care about the plight of whole peoples on any basis, and that includes being Syrian.

Second, as Jesus said, the two greatest commands are to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. And Jesus told a parable about who is our neighbor. While ensuring America has uniform and effective standards for screening is both wise and necessary, shutting down the refugee program—for however long—should cause us grave concern. Lives are at stake.

Third, we cannot ignore Jesus’ parable about the sheep and the goats where he said, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” American churches have a long history of loving Christ by showing love to refugees. And in this climate, we must ramp up our efforts toward these communities around us.

Fourth, as Chuck Colson often said, government has a biblical mandate “to promote justice and restrain evil.” To restrain evil, a government must, justly, defend its nation’s borders and determine who gets to cross them, and who doesn’t. This requires distinguishing between tourists and immigrants on one hand, and refugees on the other.

Finally, we cherish religious liberty, but not just for ourselves, for members of every faith. If the President’s order turns out to be a first step in fulfilling his campaign promise to ban all Muslim immigration, Christians must protest vigorously.

I’ll have more to say as things clear up. But until then, let’s strive to see this through the mind of Christ. Pray for our leaders and for those in need, remembering that Jesus is both our savior and our judge.

Further Reading and Information
The Executive Order: Refugees, National Security and a Biblical Worldview

As John has urged, let's be in prayer for our country's leaders, that they would have wisdom and insight to govern justly and righteously. And as we pray, we recognize Christ's sovereignty over all rulers and nations.


DHS Announces Further Travel Restrictions for the Visa Waiver Program
DHS Press Office | February 18, 2016

Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry To The United States
DHS fact sheet | January 29, 2017

US May Have Let 'Dozens' of Terrorists Into Country As Refugees
James Gordon Meek, Cindy Galli, Brian Ross | abcnews.go.com | November 20, 2013

Separating Fact From Hysteria on Trump Refugee Order
David French | National Review Online | January 29, 2017

Trump faces mounting Republican criticism over refugee order rollout
Judson Berger | FoxNews.com | January 30, 2017

The letter Russell Moore will send Trump about the refugee order
Russell Moore | Washington Post | January 30, 2017


Defending America's Border is a Christian Response
@ Katy

You are correct that the Bible doesn't promote globalism or frown on a nation defending its borders. Hence, Christians should feel no guilt or shame in asking if those entering America want to preserve our society or destroy it.

Franklin Graham did a great job explaining this:

“I think that a thorough vetting process really needs to apply to people coming into the U.S. from all countries—not just 7. We have to be sure that the philosophies of those entering our country are compatible with our Constitution.

If a person does not agree with our principles of freedom, democracy, and liberty, which we cherish, they should not be allowed to come. Without question, Sharia law is not compatible.”

What Do American Muslims think about the EO
@ The Bechtloff

You are correct that President Trump can indeed ban any foreignor who threatens national security. he is supported by the U.S. Constitution as well as federal law such as the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1952 cited in the president's executive order.

What baffles me in this debate is that no one asks American Muslims' opinion on the EO. If they did, they would realize American Muslims are not universally opposed to it in spite of what activists and a hysterical corporate media claim.

Author Qanta Ahmed delves in to the complexity of the issue:

"I think a lot of Muslims around the world are afraid. But many of us, especially opposed to radical Islam, are welcoming it. We don’t want to prohibit refugees here forever. We, as Americans, want to help those in need, but we do think we have to make assessments based on the regions that are identified. Libya, the third front of ISIS. Somalia, beyond failed. It’s own government cannot travel outside its capital, let alone govern it. Iraq, we’re fighting ISIS, but special exception must be made for Iraqis helping US forces. So, we see it as very pragmatic. Muslim minorities that are persecuted badly in Pakistan and other places were thrilled that this draft wording includes penalizing those that commit honor violence or persecution of minorities. A lot of Muslims are subject to that. So, I think there is a positive feeling.”


Ms. Ahmed's sentiment is echoed by Dr. Zuhdi Jasser (American Islamic Forum for Democracy)


And Johnny Walker, interpreter for the late Chris Kyle (American Sniper)


Just something to keep in mind as this debate over the EO and by extension immigration policies continues.
Response to Katy
"My understanding of Biblical teaching is that we are under the authority of our nation's laws." I wouldn't put it that way. I would say:

My understanding of Biblical teaching is that we are under the authority of our nation's laws to the extent that they do not violate God's law.

Other than that I am pretty much in agreement with your comment.
Jesus was NOT a refugee
A: Jesus did not flee to Egypt. His parents took him there to escape certain death from Herod. Egyptian government was probably not even aware they were in the country and, even if they did, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were not potential terrorists.
B: Jesus did not flee Egypt but his family returned after Herod's death. Returning to your home country does not qualify as a refugee.

The devil hates the church. Since he cannot defeat the Church, he must try to join the Church. We should remain on guard as Christians to protect the
Church against the evil that is Islam.
response to OKIE
I'm reminded of something Christ himself said "It is not right to take the children's bread and give it to the dogs" and of course the verse in 1 Timothy about the man who doesn't take care of his own being worse than an unbeliever.
Why did God tell you to love your neighbor and not to love all of humanity? Because you simply can't do the latter. Your responsibility to your fellow man goes out in concentric circles. Your spouse, your children, your family and close friends, your community, your country, and then the world. Some people are called to drop everything and head to the other side of the world to minister, but they are the exception. For most of us, your responsibility follows those concentric circles. You have a responsibility to your countrymen before you have a responsibility to these so called refugees. These extreme Muslims bring death and ruin where ever they go. Call that statement "harsh" "bigoted" or "hateful" if you must but an good hard look, heck even a quick glance, at Europe's current state would tell you it's true. However much you may pity them, for you to welcome these death worshipers into your land at the obvious peril of your fellow countrymen is, well....I believe that verse in 1 Timothy said it best.

-The Bechtloff
Jesus was a refugee
Among loving God and our neighbors, let's not forget that Jesus was a refugee...as were many others in the Bible. Will we be able to act kindly to "the least of these?"
You'll have to show me where the Bible instructs a nation that it may not guard its borders. My understanding of Biblical teaching is that we are under the authority of our nation's laws. It teaches we must treat aliens in our midst equally under our laws, which we do. I just don't see where it teaches the globalists' doctrine of open borders.
"If the President’s order turns out to be a first step in fulfilling his campaign promise to ban all Muslim immigration, Christians must protest vigorously."

Why? No non citizen has any right to immigrate to the US. And as a sovereign nation we have the right to refuse entry to anyone for any reason. And I would say belonging to a death cult that has been in a near de facto state of war with the rest of humanity for nearly its entire history, is a pretty good reason. Banning Islam within the US would violate the First Amendment, banning Muslim immigration however does not.

-The Bechtloff