Evangelicals break with Trump, condemn Muslim ban


Donald Trump's executive order banning refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries has unleashed chaos on the United States immigration system and millions of people. Opposition to the ban has been coming from all corners of the country — including from conservative, evangelical Christians.

The response to Donald Trump's executive order banning refugees from entrance into the United States has been met with protests and resounding outrage from coast to coast. And some of the loudest voices in opposition to the ban have come from evangelical Christian leaders, where a first-hand understanding of the refugee crisis is joining moral indignation to give rise to powerful dissent.

In an open letter to Trump and Mike Pence, numerous leaders of the Christian church called on Trump and his leadership team to reconsider the ban, grounding their concerns solidly in Scripture and Christian principles:

As evangelical Christians, we are guided by the Bible to be particularly concerned for the plight of refugees, individuals who have been forced to flee their countries because of the threat of persecution. Evangelical churches and ministries have long played a key role in welcoming, resettling, and assisting in the integration of refugees from various parts of the world. As such, we are troubled by the recent executive order temporarily halting refugee resettlement and dramatically reducing the number of refugees who could be considered for resettlement to the U.S.

The Bible teaches us that each person — including each refugee, regardless of their country of origin, religious background, or any other qualifier — is made in the Image of God, with inherent dignity and potential. Their lives matter to God, and they matter to us. While the U.S. has in recent years received only a fraction of 1 percent of the world’s refugees annually, we believe the refugee resettlement program provides a lifeline to these uniquely vulnerable individuals and a vital opportunity for our churches to live out the biblical commands to love our neighbors, to make disciples of all nations, and to practice hospitality.

Signatories to this letter include the leadership of the large evangelical charities World Relief and WorldVision, as well as The Wesleyan Church, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Korean Churches for Community Development, the National Association of Evangelicals, and the Accord Network.

Perhaps the most high profile example of the evangelical opposition to Trump's order comes from Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.

In a letter to Trump and Pence at The Washington Post, which will also be sent to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Moore writes:

Southern Baptists are among the many Americans living in majority-Muslim countries to carry out the biblical call to love their neighbors. We are deeply concerned that the order will cause widespread diplomatic fallout with the Muslim world, putting Southern Baptists serving in these countries in grave danger and preventing them from serving refugees and others who are in need with humanitarian assistance and the love of the gospel.

Achieving the right balance between compassion toward refugees — one of the most vulnerable groups of people among us — and protection of Americans is crucial if the United States is to remain a model for freedom around the world. It is one thing to debate whether the vetting process is adequate. It is quite another to seek to potentially turn our backs on Syrian refugees permanently.

Moore also points to the Christian principle of loving one's neighbor and caring for the most vulnerable, reflecting language in the Southern Baptist Convention's resolution on refugee resettlement, passed last year.

Many of these evangelicals calling on Trump to lift the ban cite the years-long vetting processes already in place, and the fact that bringing refugees here is a demonstration of Christian values. Scott Arbeiter, president of World Relief, commented to Christianity Today that "the risk that we have right now is that we are closing the doors to the very people that we say we want to share the gospel with.”

While data currently do not exist on evangelical Americans' opinions on the refugee ban, their leadership's hardline stance against Trump is a welcome sign of unified opposition to the man four in five evangelical voters helped elect. Trump's record-setting unpopularity is sure to grow as those same voters now turn against him for violating their closely held beliefs.