More Smoke and Mirrors in the Ongoing Failure to Admit Syrian Christian Refugees to the US

A rally to encourage Syrian and Iraqi refugee resettlement in the U.S. The rally was in Washington, D.C. near the White House in November 2015.

By Faith McDonnell Published on December 12, 2015

Earlier this fall, the voluntary agencies (VOLAGs) contracted by the federal government and the UN to place Syrian refugees around the United States, sponsored a letter to Congress declaring their opposition to legislation that put “Iraqi and Syrian Christians ahead of Muslims for resettlement in the U.S., even if they are also victims of persecution.” The letter, signed by hundreds of religious leaders, protested calls for strict vetting of Syrian refugees as well as calls for equal time for persecuted Christians and other religious minorities that have been neglected in the refugee resettlement process.

President Obama followed this with finger-wagging accusation of religious bias, accusing Republican presidential candidates of wanting a “religion test” in which “only Christians — proven Christians should be admitted.” A little later Obama accused his opponents of being “scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America … scared of three-year-old orphans.”

The truth, as they well know, is that the live proposal on the table is simply to screen Muslim immigrants more stringently to lower the chances of admitting members of ISIS and other Islamic jihadist groups. If this threat wasn’t clear enough after Paris and San Bernardino, the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee made it even more so in a speech to the National Defense University on December 7. The Hill reported that U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) shared portions of a classified letter offering evidence that Islamic extremists are trying to gain entry into the United States through the refugee program. According to The Hill, these claims were “not previously disclosed by the Obama Administration.”

Now actually there is a biased test being applied, but the test has the effect of screening out Christians and other religious minorities while letting in thousands of Muslims. Abraham Miller explained in The Hill:

The Department of State is adhering with all the rigidity of a Soviet era bureaucracy to the rule that only people at risk from massacres launched by the regime qualify for refugee status. … The Christians are being raped, tortured, and murdered by militias, not by the Syrian government. This technicality condemns them to continue to be victims without hope. And this technicality is being adhered to with all the tenacity with which President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s State Department manipulated quotas and created subterfuges to keep out the Jews fleeing the oppression of Nazi Germany. Obama no more wants the Middle East’s Christian refugees than Roosevelt wanted Europe’s Jewish refugees.

Want more? The Administration is poised to designate ISIS’s murder of Yazidi victims as genocidal (as well they should!), but to exclude Christians, unless an ecumenical left-right coalition succeeds in getting Christians included.

The Challenge from Christianity Today

A Nov. 20 article in Christianity Today claimed that an earlier article of mine incorrectly faulted “the Obama administration and U.S. resettlement agencies, which plan to increase the number of refugees resettled but have failed to support legislation that would fast track Christians for resettlement in America.” To be precise, I didn’t merely claim that they had failed to support the legislation. I argued that the VOLAGS actively lobbied against it.

CT first concedes the Unites States is letting in vastly more Muslim Syrian refugees (2,098) than Syrian Christian refugees (53). But then they quote Matthew Soerens, U.S. Director of church mobilization for World Relief, who says that “the bulk of Syrian Christian refugees are likely still waiting to be processed.” This is what we refer to as a half truth. According to the State Department’s unclassified statement to Nina Shea of The Hudson Institute, “Many minorities have not entered the UN system because they are urban refugees.” So, yes “they are still waiting to be processed,” but they will be waiting a long, long time because the UN is not reaching out past the refugee camps to find and process the most desperate victims of ISIS — Christians and other religious minorities.

Soerens did not mention the dangers that Christians and other religious minorities face in the refugee camps where they must go to enter “the UN system.” They face threats from ISIS and other jihadists pretending to be refugees — the same jihadists who, according to Chairman McCaul, have infiltrated the migrants flooding Europe and that the Obama Administration is resettling in the United States.

Soerens rejected “accusations that the U.S. was trying to discriminate against Christians.” But neither Shea nor I accused the U.S. of deliberate discrimination. Shea pointed out that it was structural discrimination on the part of the UN, for which the United States has sought no remedy.

Stephan Bauman, President/CEO, of the VOLAG World Relief, defended the status quo by asserting that the U.S. “has helped more persecuted Christians than any other religious group.” Maybe that is because there are more Christians around the world experiencing persecution than any other religious group. According to statistics from Open Doors, some 180 Christians around the world are killed each month for their faith. And, any in case, Bauman’s point doesn’t address the massive imbalance of Muslim-to-Christian refugees making it into the United States from Syria. He, in essence, answered the charge by changing the subject.

If only the U.S. government, United Nations and mainstream media were satisfied to utterly fail to welcome in desperate Syrian Christians. But no, they go a step further and demonize Eastern Europeans nations for offering to take only Christian refugees. Countries still recovering from the chains of the Soviet Union do not relish making themselves vulnerable to another form of totalitarianism (sharia) even if the rest of the West is eagerly offering its head to the block.

With no help from VOLAGS or the United States, a group of beleaguered Christian refugees in, Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan have been offered a new home in Slovakia. The first 149 Christian men, women, and children were flown to Kocise, Slovakia on Thursday, December 10 by television and radio host Glenn Beck’s Mercury One charity.

These Iraqi Christians failed the State Department’s religion test, but the Eastern European nation is eager to welcome persecuted people who speak the language of Jesus.

Slovakia can handle only a fraction of the total number of Christian refugees fleeing persecution in the Middle East, but it’s a start. May the Lord bless Slovakia for this, and may He soften the hearts of our political and religious leaders enough that they will stop hiding behind technicalities and instead seek out and open their arms to the persecuted Christian refugees of the Middle East.

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