Rejecting Christian Refugees.

Rejecting Christian Refugees. July 22, 2019

Did you catch this story from a while back? Apparently an Iranian national was rejected as a refugee and not allowed into England because someone decided that Christianity is a hateful religion. Naturally the Church of England and other Christians are angry at such idiocy. Government officials in a Western modern society should not be in the business of engaging in the theological interpretations of different religions. Their job should be to see if the refugee’s life and safety is at stake and if so to act accordingly.

Unfortunately, I run into this attitude in the United States as well. But this time it is not aimed at Christians. It is aimed at Muslims. Many Christians I have communicated with are uneasy about allowing Muslim refugees into our country. A common reason they give is that Islam is not a religion but a political system. According to them, Muslims are committed to overthrowing the current government and establishing Sharia law. In other words, they want their government officials to engage in the theological interpretation of Islam.

I have blogged about the role that Christians should play in defending religious freedom for everyone. It is my wish that we would defend religious freedom for the sheer principle of it. We serve a God that grants us free will, and if we do not respect that free will in others, then we are disrespecting God. But I will take Christians defending religious freedom simply to save our own necks. The very logic some are using to keep Muslims out of this country is being used by government officials in England to keep Christians out of that country. And it is just as wrong when we do it over here as when they do it over there.

Some Christians will argue that it is wrong in England but not the United States because Islam is truly different than Christianity. Hence their argument is that Islam is not a real religion. I disagree that Islam is not a religion, but let me grant them this argument. In fact I do agree that today Muslims are engaging in terrorism around the world more than Christians, so Islam is different in effect than Christianity. But do these Christians think that such differences will matter to those who want to find reasons to punish us? These differences will not matter.

When I did my research on cultural progressive activists and those with Christianophobia, I found that many expressed concerns about Christians trying to set up a theocracy. While there are a few crackpot Christians who are serious about setting up a theocracy, I find such fears to be unfounded. But the fact that they are unfounded does not matter. These individuals truly believe that Christians want a theocracy and since those with anti-Christian hatred have disproportionate cultural power in our society, they may one day be in a position to deny Christian refugees from our country. But even before they get to that stage of discrimination, they will employ other unfair measures against Christians, and indeed we have already seen the results of such prejudice in modern America.

I think Christians should look at any measure that will be used against Muslims as one that can be used against them in the near future. Do not want Muslim refugees? Well there is already some evidence of discrimination against Christian refugees in the U.S. Do you want to see more such discrimination? Want to stop Muslims from building mosques? Do you think that those with Christianophobia will not use those rules against churches when they get the chance? Seek to bar Muslims from being government officials? Are you not tired of the religious tests given to Christians?

I know that fighting for the religious rights of Muslims will not stop Christianophobes from trying to punish Christians. But we can greatly decrease the potency of their weapons if we, as Christians fight, and when necessary, work as an ally with other religious groups. Doing this is not only the right thing to do. It is the smart thing to do.

To be clear trying to protect ourselves is not the noblest reason to do what is right. I would rather Christians do what is right in protecting religious freedom because that is in keeping with our values. But I will take what I can get and if fear of Christianophobia convinces some Christians to fight Islamophobia, then so be it.

"In fact, we did! We Germans invited "to our house" not only "10 or so ..."

Why I am not Voting in ..."
"You live in Germany. Did you open your house to 10 or so illegal migrants? ..."

Why I am not Voting in ..."
"The author states the right's position as: "Gun control by itself will not end this ..."

Mass Shootings and Polarization
"All other western democracies??"

Mass Shootings and Polarization

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Evangelical
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Maine_Skeptic

    “While there are a few crackpot Christians who are serious about setting up a theocracy, I find such fears to be unfounded.”

    Professor, you acknowledge that there are Christians serious about setting up a theocracy. That means the fears are not entirely unfounded.

    “…those with anti-Christian hatred have disproportionate cultural power in our society…”

    You have no basis for making that claim, and you have plenty of reason to know it’s not true. When pressed in the past, you’ve given anecdotal evidence about how in academia some conservative Christians are not given the same special privilege they’re given in other institutions, like the government and both political parties.

    Now you come out with this article in which you have something good to say: protect the religious freedom of all people. But you can’t even say THAT good thing without making clear your grudges against unreligious people, the majority of whom would support you in protecting actual religious freedom.

    • georgeyancey

      Two points. First there are crackpot atheists who think that Christians deserve to have their children taken away from them. They exists and I have had them respond to my questionnaire. But fears of Christians having their children ripped from their arms is not founded either. Second, I guess I should point this out every time I make this point but those with anti-Christian animosity are more likely to be white, male, educated, wealthy, politically progressive and irreligious than others. This is documented in my book “So Many Christians, So Few Lions.” Where we find such individuals tends to be in places of cultural power such as academia and media – two areas I have studied and found evidence of anti-Christian bias. This is not to deny advantages Christians have in other areas of society such as in politics, but it is true that those with anti-Christian hatred have disproportionate cultural power.

      • Christiane Smith

        I wouldn’t ‘worry’ about Christians being ‘hated’. I’d worry about Christians becoming fearful, anxious, dependent on ‘strong leadership’ to defend them politically, isolated from all ‘the others’ who are ‘different’. Yes, I’d worry about those who try to make Christian people take their eyes off of the Christ Who leads them out of fearfulness, out of death, into life. Beware the ones who come preaching ‘be afraid, be very, very afraid’ because they are not Christ-followers, no. We must not abandon our first love. To whom else shall we go? Do you think some political leader or judge will save you while you cower from ‘the others’ thinking that ‘the others’ are out to get you?
        May we learn to love instead of to judge, so that we are not blinded by the darkness of being judgmental and we do not become a people who are dense in our awareness of the presence of true evil that would manipulate our fears.

        Jesus shepherds us out of our fears and into the light. Trust Him. Be not afraid.

        • georgeyancey

          You do not know me too well. I have been talking to Christians about not relying on someone like Trump and building our communities. Does not mean that, like Paul, we do not call out unfairness against us when we can. I have no faith in either political party or the government but we need to know the lay of the land as we move forward.

          • Christiane Smith

            Hello George Yancey,
            thank you for letting me express my thoughts here

            the last time Christian people were afraid to go forward, they were awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and after that, they went out into the world unafraid of what they would encounter; they went into the world as their Lord had come into the world once the Holy Spirit had descended upon them

            for me, the name of ‘Christian’ is not associated with politics or with ‘stridency’ or with a sense of outrage over people not being ‘fair’ to ‘us’, no

            for me, the name of Christian’ speaks of a sinner upon whom God has looked with mercy, who goes out into the world to serve selflessly and to tell of the ‘Good News’ of the Risen Christ;
            and rather than fearfulness or ‘needing reassurance’ or ‘respectfulness from others’, I see the name of ‘Christian’ as ideally being a person who comes bearing ‘the peace of Christ’ within himself/herself no matter what is encountered. The first Christians greeted one another with ‘the Lord be with you’ and the reply was ‘and with your spirit also’. That was the ‘needful thing’, the Presence of Christ in their lives, their only solace.

            for me, the name of ‘Christian’ belongs to a person who doesn’t worry about what is encountered, so much as what he/she can bring in service to others by way of patience and kindness and long-suffering and the kind of compassion that Our Lord had for the ones who were weak and needed a Shepherd.

            I don’t recognize the strident angry ‘christian’ of our day . . . . I just see another person needing peace, needing to be calmed and restored, and cared for. I have been honest with you. I mean no offense to those who see things differently. It is good to be able to communicate with one another. God Bless!

      • Maine_Skeptic

        “But fears of Christians having their children ripped from their arms is not founded either….”

        It’s not founded because that’s not at all a common claim for non-religious people to make. I’m not even sure what you’re talking about when you say there are atheists who think Christian parents should have their children taken from them. Meanwhile, in states where Christians hold the legislature and governorships, they are passing laws and taking actions based solely on faith-based feelings, and they are doing so in open defiance of the law and the Constitution.

        Beyond this, professor, we routinely see zealous Christians openly and proudly supporting a corrupt and anti-Constitutional president. The overwhelming majority of Evangelicals support his assaults on immigrants, free speech, freedom of the press, the separation of powers, and the rule of law.

        As I’ve said numerous times, however, the problem is a human one, not a Christian one. There are plenty of atheists who support the president, even if the majority of non-religious people do not. At the same time, it’s a little ridiculous to suggest that those who recognize there are many Evangelical dominionists who do not love the Constitution or the country as a whole.

        “…I guess I should point this out every time I make this point but those with anti-Christian animosity are more likely to be white, male, educated, wealthy, politically progressive and irreligious than others….”

        Why do you see that as significant?

        • George Yancey

          As much as I hate Trump I do not equate supporting him as supporting a theocracy. At the end of the day Trump supporting Christians want laws that help their group. But you can say that about any special interest group. And the only people I see trying to apply religious tests for government service today are Democrats. So no I do not take the concerns about Christian theocracy seriously.

          As to your other question who has power in our cultural institutions such as academia, entertainment, media etc. Consistently it is white, highly educated, wealth, politically progressive, irreligious males.

      • Yo Ho

        Did it occur to you that the questionnaire respondents might have been trolling you? I googled children taken from Christian parents and it’s mostly trans teens or children of parents who won’t get proper medical care for their children and have already had a child die due to that.