The moment is over. Refugee camps are set ablaze. Mosques are attacked. There are petitions to the government to refuse refugees. Some state governors are pretending they have the authority to block refugees from their states. Rage is boiling. Religious bigotry is flourishing. Fear is pervasively slinking and slithering.
This is my country, the land of the free and the home of the brave. This is my country, where we insist that all men are created equal. This is my country; freedom of religion is entrenched.
Our very foundation is being challenged. I still have hope. We will not turn our backs on these people in need. We will not apply a religious litmus test. We will not isolate, humiliate, and attack them. We will feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and welcome the stranger. We will.
Daesh wants to drive the narrative. They want to be what you picture when you think about Muslims. That's why they want to be called The Islamic State, as though theirs is the one true iteration of the faith. They preach that Islam cannot exist in the our culture. They encourage tension because that is their story. We hate them. They hate us. That is their story.
It is not ours. Our story is more powerful.
As a nation we insist that people are free to worship as they choose, or not at all. We insist that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. As a nation we welcome Muslims.
As a Church, we insist that freedom and grace are linked. We know that true Christian evangelism is offered in love. We know that no one is beyond redemption. We know that the call to help people in need is not optional and it doesn't have qualifiers.
"Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”" Matthew 25:41-46
All through the gospels Jesus preaches forgiveness. These harsh words stand out. There will be people damned who thought they were doing OK. People who thought they were doing well will go to Hell. And it isn't for those genital sins that dominate every moral discussion. They will be damned for ignoring those in need. They will be damned for not looking for the face of God.
We cannot be confused. Even if we assume the worst possible scenario, and I don't think we should, we still have to help the refugees. We cannot decide we shouldn't help people just because some big, bad, scary monster says we shouldn't. We are not cowards.
Of course we should vet people. And of course we shouldn't ignore the threats from Daesh. They really do hate us. For evidence of how they treat people, look to the Muslims pouring out of Syria. The people looking to us for help. These are people hoping that Daesh lied about us, as they know Daesh lied about them. They already know Daesh is not representing their faith truly.
We can and do vet refugees. Terrorists wanting entry are better off finding isolated and angry people already here, and they know it. The lies that they are going to get in with the refugees are just another way to wedge Muslims and the West. That's why the passport was planted. That's their story. That's how they grow and thrive. We must not help spread their rage and terror.
"841 The Church's relationship with the Muslims. "The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day."" Catholic Catechism
We have an obligation as a nation. We have an obligation as Christians. We will help. We have to. We are looking at Christ.
"Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy." Thomas Merton