We are all trying to figure out the best path to peace out of the terror that is in our world today. One path chosen by some Presidential candidates is to make sure that the only refugees allowed to take a path into the U.S. are Christian. To steal a line from SNL, “Isn’t that special?”
The basis for the “Christian only” policy?
In one candidate’s own words: “There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror.”
Let’s stay away from the political and go with the theological. I’ve got to ask:
First, How do we screen the refugees to ensure that Jesus is just all right with them? How do we prove someone is or isn’t a Christian? Is it a baptismal certificate? A fish bumper sticker? A date of when they walked the aisle, written in the front page of their Bible? A secret handshake? Do we go back to Biblical times and follow the pattern of identity given by God to Jewish men? Yikes.
Second, What if some non-Christian just pretended to be Christian in order to sneak into America?
Third, No Christian terrorists? “There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror.” Really? Maybe this is about history as well as theology.
History has in it plenty of episodes of “Christians committing acts of terror”: 700 years of “Inquisition.”
The politician goes on to say, “If there were a group of radical Christians pledging to murder anyone who had a different religious view than they, we would have a different national security situation.” We could ask the Waldensians about what happens when you have a “different religious view” than the established church. We could ask the people of Oklahoma City and Charleston about the reality of Christian terrorism.
Then there is this page from history expressed on the pages of Jews, God, and History by Max I. Dimont, “New industries develop special skills, and the Nazi concentration camp industry was no exception. Adept Sonderkommandos learned to apply grappling hooks with skill to separate bodies. Trained technicians learned to pry dead lips apart and deftly knock out gold-filled teeth. Talented barbers dexterously shaved the heads of dead women. Six days a week, the new elite worked in the concentration camps. On Sunday, they rested, went to church with their wives and children, and after church talked with horror about the eastern front where Russians were killing German soldiers, and commented on the barbarity of the Americans, who were dropping bombs on civilians.”
History has shown that followers of Jesus have not always acted like Jesus.
Another candidate, proposing the “Christians only” view, was asked by a reporter about how he would determine who is a Christian. Here’s his answer “I mean, you can prove you’re a Christian. I think you can prove it. If you can’t prove it, you are on the side of caution.”
“How do you know if someone is a Christian?” is a legitimate question. Here’s Jesus’ answer:
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
“We know that we have passed from death to life because we love each other”
(1 John 3:14).
Just in case some interpret “each other” and “one another” only to apply to “other” Christians, there’s this zinger:
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45).
As usual, I have more questions than answers:
If love is the proof of following Christ, then how many of us would be allowed in?
Should refugees pass a test before being allowed in? My limited understanding of the process in place leads me to believe that there is some kind of test.
Is Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals onto something when he says, “Of course we want to keep terrorists out of our country, but let’s not punish the victims of ISIS for the sins of ISIS.”
Does proposing a “Christian only” test show a misunderstanding of both Christianity and Islam?
How do we express the life and ways of Jesus in our world? A member of a small group I attend is posing this question for discussion at our group’s gathering tonight: “What would Jesus do with a murderous Parisian terrorist?”