The lunar left has gone ballistic over the recent executive order of the Trump administration to restrict in very limited ways various arrivals into the US. You would have thought that he bombed Mecca, declared Islam to be a verboten religion, or dug up Muhammad’s grave.
Um, things were not quite as radical as that. A few obvious points need to be kept in mind:
-This was not a travel ban. It was a short term restriction on refugees and immigration of some people from just seven countries. It is a temporary measure to help ensure that certain travellers to America are not posing a security risk.
-This was not a ban on Muslims. There are over 40 Muslim-majority nations, including Indonesia and Saudi Arabia which are not on the list. The seven mainly Muslim nations were previously identified by the Obama Administration as “countries of concern.”
-This was not anything all that different than what Obama had done in 2011 with his six month moratorium on visas to Iraqis. Indeed, there has been a precedent for this kind of thing in America for decades now. Jimmy Carter for example issued a cancelation of visas for Iranian citizens back in 1980. So nothing new here.
-This was not permanent, but a very temporary (3-4 months) restriction. It was just to get on top of some weaknesses in the American arrivals system, and to make sure the nation is kept safe.
-This was not “unChristian”. There is nothing unscriptural about having borders and defending those borders. I wrote about this in greater detail here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2010/11/09/christians-and-asylum-seekers/
Yes, it may not have been rolled out as well as it might have, and it was a somewhat messy process in terms of delivery, but all in all it was a sensible and sober policy decision. While plenty of folks have been going nutzo on this, thankfully some sober voices have been heard, and it is worth citing a few of them here.
First of all, most folks who are railing against the Trump Administration have not even bothered to read the 3000-word order. Those who are interested can find it in various places, including here: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/27/donald-trump-executive-order-immigration-full-text
Let me offer a brief overview of it. David French speaks about what exactly the order does:
First, the order temporarily halts refugee admissions for 120 days to improve the vetting process, then caps refugee admissions at 50,000 per year. Outrageous, right? Not so fast. Before 2016, when Obama dramatically ramped up refugee admissions, Trump’s 50,000 stands roughly in between a typical year of refugee admissions in George W. Bush’s two terms and a typical year in Obama’s two terms….
Second, the order imposes a temporary, 90-day ban on people entering the U.S. from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. These are countries either torn apart by jihadist violence or under the control of hostile, jihadist governments….
Third, Trump’s order also puts an indefinite hold on admission of Syrian refugees to the United States “until such time as I have determined that sufficient changes have been made to the USRAP to ensure that admission of Syrian refugees is consistent with the national interest.” This is perhaps the least consequential aspect of his order — and is largely a return to the Obama administration’s practices from 2011 to 2014….
Fourth, there is a puzzling amount of outrage over Trump’s directive to “prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.” In other words, once refugee admissions resume, members of minority religions may well go to the front of the line. In some countries, this means Christians and Yazidis. In others, it can well mean Muslims.
So all this is about securing America’s borders and helping weed out possible trouble makers and terrorists. A fully sensible plan to me it seems. As Matt Walsh remarks:
It seems odd to hear so many Leftists declaring that Trump’s immigration policy will inspire more terrorism against the United States. If Muslims aren’t prone to violence, as the Left insists, why would an Executive Order provoke these non-violent folks to violence? Iran has announced that it will ban US citizens in retaliation to Trump’s move. Well, we don’t want to go there anyway, so no big deal. But even so, you’ll notice how nobody is worried that Americans will be inspired to commit terrorist attacks against Iran because of Iran’s immigration policy. Indeed, nobody ever worries that citizens of any western nation will be turned into terrorists because of the bigotries and prejudices harbored against us by non-western nations. We only ever worry about “turning” Muslims into terrorists. Might this indicate that Muslims are more easily turned into terrorists? And if so, might we wonder why that’s the case?
The religious lefties have been quite upset about all this, seeking to take the high moral and biblical ground. In another piece Walsh looks at the shallow thinking of the religious left on this:
Yes, Scripture does clearly exhort us not to “oppress” the “sojourners” from other lands (Exodus 22), but is it a form of “oppression” when our duly elected governing authorities pass immigration laws and travel restrictions designed to protect its own people? I don’t see how a sane adult could interpret it that way. And if you do interpret it that way, then you’ve effectively argued that immigration laws are inherently immoral across the board. But if immigration laws are inherently immoral, that would make the government itself inherently immoral because one of the primary and most essential functions of government is to protect the nation’s borders and maintain its sovereignty. How could a nation have a government if it has no borders? Clearly, Romans tell us that governments are necessary, and if it tells us that governments are necessary then it tells us that borders are necessary. You can’t have one without the other.
So, if you feel that Scripture compels you to do something about the refugee crisis, I would suggest that you take your own money and send it to help those in need. If you feel that Scripture compels the government to admit all refugees without screening or filtering them, I would suggest that you go back and read the text again. And if you feel that Scripture compels conservatives to adopt a left wing approach to this issue — even as you openly deny the validity of Scripture and mock those who read it — I would suggest you find a better argument entirely.
Bryan Fisher also looks at some of the biblical data on this:
Because of the immediate and implacable hostility of the people of Ammon and Moab when Israel came out of Egypt, God himself forbade the nation of Israel to accept any immigrants from either of these people groups to “the tenth generation” (Deuteronomy 23:3). Since a biblical generation is 40 years, this was in essence a permanent ban.
So the benchmark established by God is this: if a people group manifests an unremitting hostility to another nation, that nation has the moral right to forbid entrance to immigrants from that people group in the interests of its own security and peace. Was God saying that every Ammonite and Moabite was evil beyond redemption? No, but since it was virtually impossible to tell which Ammonites or Moabites Israel needed to worry about and which ones they didn’t, God’s directive was to be careful with them all.
Immigration exceptions were made for those who were properly and satisfactorily vetted. Ruth, for instance, was a Moabite but was not only allowed to enter Israel but to become a part of the line that led to the Savior of the world.
It should be noted that Ruth was embraced as an immigrant because of her willingness to reject the religious practices of her native land and completely assimilate to her newly adopted homeland. “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God” (Ruth 1:17).
Michael Brown reminds us that concern for the persecution of Christians is fully biblical:
There’s nothing wrong with prioritizing help for our Christian brethren. I don’t understand why some Christian leaders are upset with putting a priority on resettling Christian refugees. This is the right thing to do scripturally and legally, for at least three reasons.
1) Christians are called to do good to all people, but especially to fellow believers (see Galatians 6:10); so, we continue to help Muslim and other refugees, but as a majority Christian country, we prioritize Christian refugees.
The perception of Christian refugees in Jordan is that “American Christians had completely abandoned them.”
2) Christian refugees really are “the least of these My brethren” in the classic words of Jesus in Matthew 25:31-46, being trapped as a tiny, persecuted minority in the midst of Islamic civil wars and surrounded by Islamic countries, with very few making it to our shores. Sadly, as I noted in 2015, “A friend of mine who pastors a large church in Tennessee traveled to Jordan and spoke with Christian refugees there. Their perception was that American Christians had completely abandoned them.”
3) Legally, the issue is not one of Islamophobia but rather, to quote the executive order directly, a call “to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.” This could apply to groups like the Yazidis too, and rightly so.
Also, Franklin Graham has come out in support of this policy:
There have been a lot of protests and discussion about President Donald J. Trump’s executive action on immigration. Some people seem to have forgotten that the priority of the president of the United States is protecting the Constitution and the safety of Americans. That’s exactly what President Trump is trying to do. Taking action to secure our borders had to start somewhere. Is it perfect? Maybe not, but it is a first step. As they work on solutions during this 90-day travel ban, unfortunately there are some innocent families caught in this time of transition.
Also, most Christians, especially Catholics, should take an interest in no less a towering figure as Thomas Aquinas and what he said about all this some 700 years ago. See this interesting article: http://www.returntoorder.org/2014/07/saint-thomas-say-immigration-2/
Aside from Christian and biblical considerations, there are also political, legal and geopolitical ones to discuss. I have briefly raised some of those issues at the beginning of this article. Let me finish with a few more. Jewish commentator Melanie Phillips concludes her helpful piece on this with these words:
The great danger to the world isn’t Donald Trump. It’s the threat by Islamists – aided and abetted by those have appeased these enemies of the west for years, and who have been sent totally wild by a US president who dares to want to defend freedom instead.
Can everyone please calm down now?
And I quite like some sensible words of advice from John Moody on this matter:
Do you lock your front door at night? Hater!
Do you have an alarm system at your house? Xenophobe!
Do you ask who’s ringing your doorbell before letting a visitor in? Rotten bigot!
That, essentially, is the reaction from the politically charged left to President Trump’s executive order about admitting people from certain countries into the United States. The unhinged outrage from Trump-haters – and there are a lot of them – puts the interests of non-Americans over the security of our citizens. And the administration’s botched roll-out of the new restrictions gave opponents just the excuse they needed to bellow.
Reduce the argument to a personal level. A homeowner is permitted to refuse entry to anyone he or she doesn’t want in, right? Security systems are intended to keep unwanted visitors out and let the homeowner know who is outside. Lots of apartment dwellers have an intercom that rings when someone outside wants to visit. Are those precautions divisive, discriminatory or unconstitutional?
Or as President Ronald Reagan once rightly put it: “A nation that cannot control its borders is not a nation.”
Finally, I urge you to watch this 6-minute video by a leading expert, Brigitte Gabriel, whose experiences with and understanding of Islam, especially in relation to immigration and refugee issues, are top notch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8DQeHgnwdo