On October 27, 2015, LDS Newsroom posted the following introduction to First Presidency encouragement to assist refugees: “Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are being encouraged to provide assistance to refugees around the world.” The letter, which will be read over the pulpits of Mormon wards and stakes this Sunday, is signed by the First Presidency of the Church.
I’ve written a handful of posts about Islam and the need for Mormons to become acquainted with the beliefs and practices of this faith. Now that rubber is hitting the road. Syrian refugees, and others, will very shortly arrive in America in waves. MANY of them will be Muslim. Many of them will settle in predominantly Mormon communities and other communities with handfuls of Mormons. May I suggest that we immediately read more about Islam? Purchase a Quran (if you do not already own a copy) and read it. Talk to experts in and out of Mormonism about Islam. Ignore radio talk show hosts that consistently crying out against Islam (directly and indirectly). Avoid anti-Islamic books as you would anti-Mormon literature. Sharia law is not dangerous so jettison that general idea (see my Patheos post on Shariah law October 21, 2015). And so forth. This is a critical need—today.
Furthermore, adherents of many other faith traditions are refugees and have been driven from their homes and homelands. As a very general rule they are kind, wonderful, and now very beleaguered. Take them in. Support the invitation from the First Presidency to offer financial assistance. Speak kindly of this opportunity. Don’t view this as a proselytizing opportunity but a sacred trust to assist the downtrodden. I’m grateful that the First Presidency is issuing this statement so directly. In between the lines it suggests a pressing need to be religiously multilingual as never before. May we rise to this call from our leaders!A side note: frequently letters and essays released by the Church on LDS.org are not viewed by millions of members of the Church. They simply do not see these important publications. Furthermore, there are millions of less active and disaffected Mormons around the world that will not hear about this directive. However, if they did learn of this encouragement from the First Presidency they would respect it and likely gladly follow it in their own way. Of course, they are compassionate and deeply feel the need to assist the poor and downtrodden. So spread this word. Social media plays an enormous role in disseminating this very important letter news from the leadership of the Church to a much broader audience that those attending sacrament meeting this Sunday. This is a post that you may want to forward to all your contacts. This is not a chain letter. This is a call to save lives and reduce suffering. Of course, to “share” or not to “share” a post remains entirely your call.