By Russell Moore
Much of the world watched in horror as reports rolled in over the weekend of the barbaric terrorist attack on Paris. At least 120 people were murdered in what appears to be a highly coordinated operation by the Islamic State (ISIS).
A few days before, I was in a hospital in the Middle East in which Christian and Jewish and Muslim doctors were caring for Syrian refugees brutalized by ISIS and related groups. Now, the refugee crisis has exploded on the American political scene in a wave of controversy extending from Congress to almost everyone’s Facebook feed.
[Why the question of Christian vs. Muslim refugees has become so incredibly divisive]
At issue in this controversy are the competing principles of security and compassion, of the United States as a fortress and as a refuge. Some early reports have indicated that at least one of the suspected terrorists had registered as a Syrian refugee to secure transportation to France. This has caused many in the United States and around the world to ask, understandably, why a country should accept any more refugees if there’s a chance that a terrorist may gain entry in that process.
It is completely right to ensure that the United States have a strong process to discern who are truly refugees and who are trying to take advantage of refugees. That’s why we in the U.S. need a clearer and stronger articulation of what kind of system will be put in place by our government to properly vet anyone seeking to enter as a refugee.
At the same time, evangelical Christians cannot be the people who turn our back on our mission field. We should be the ones calling the rest of the world to remember the image of God and inalienable human dignity, of persecuted people whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Yazidi, especially those fleeing from genocidal Islamic terrorists.
We should remember the history of the 20th century, of Jewish refugees from the Holocaust and Refuseniks from the Soviet Union who were largely ignored by the world community. We can have prudential discussions and disagreements about how to maintain security. What we cannot do is to demagogue the issue.