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Christian leaders denounce Trump’s plan to favor Christian refugees

Iraqi Christian Refugees

Aleteia Image/Antoine Mekary

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 01/29/17

From The New York Times:

If Mr. Trump had hoped for Christian leaders to break out in cheers, that is, for the most part, not what he has heard so far. A broad array of clergy members has strongly denounced Mr. Trump’s order as discriminatory, misguided and inhumane. Outrage has also come from some of the evangelical, Roman Catholic and mainstream Protestant leaders who represent the churches most active in trying to aid persecuted Christians.

By giving preference to Christians over Muslims, religious leaders have said the executive order pits one faith against another. By barring any refugees from entering the United States for nearly four months, it leaves people to suffer longer in camps, and prevents families from reuniting. Also, many religious leaders have said that putting an indefinite freeze on refugees from Syria, and cutting the total number of refugees admitted this year by 60,000, shuts the door to those most in need.

“We believe in assisting all, regardless of their religious beliefs,” said Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, the chairman of the committee on migration for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Jen Smyers, the director of policy and advocacy for the immigration and refugee program of Church World Service, a ministry affiliated with dozens of Christian denominations, called Friday a “shameful day” in America’s history.

It remains to be seen whether Mr. Trump’s executive order will find more support in the pews. During the campaign, Mr. Trump successfully mined many voters’ concern about national security and fear of Muslims. He earned the votes of four out of every five white evangelical Christians, and a majority of white Catholics, exit polls showed.

Christian leaders who defended Mr. Trump’s executive order were rare this weekend. One of the few was the Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of the evangelist Billy Graham and the president of Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical aid organization. Mr. Graham has long denounced Islam as “evil,” and in July 2015 proposed a ban on Muslims entering the United States as a solution to domestic terrorism, months before Mr. Trump made his first call for the same.

Read more.

From The Atlantic, some measured support from at least one religious leader:

During his campaign, Trump won the tentative support of Samuel Rodriguez, the head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, who later offered a prayer during Trump’s inauguration. This was an important endorsement—Rodriguez is a vocal advocate for immigrants and their families, many of whom are part of churches represented by his organization. Responding to Trump’s order, Rodriguez told me, “We are a good nation when we are secured. We are a great nation when we are both secured and provide safety for those feeling from the most egregious circumstances.” When asked whether he supports priority status for Christian refugees, he said, “In light of the fact that Christians are now the most persecuted religious group in the world, I would allocate 50 percent for Christians and 50 percent for other groups.” While it is very difficult to know exactly how many Christians face persecution for their faith each year, and how their experiences compare to other groups’, Pew Research Center found that Christians faced harassment in more countries than any other religious group in 2014—a number closely followed by Muslims, the world’s other largest religious group.

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