President Donald Trump signed an executive order last month to temporarily ban most refugees from seven countries in Africa and the Middle East, including Syria. Visas will also be blocked from being issued to anyone from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
In a statement, World Relief, a Christian refugee program, stated, “While government policy may change, our commitment to standing alongside the persecuted, displaced and vulnerable remains firm.” But the organization states that federal cutbacks to U.S. refugee programs such as World Relief “compromise our ability to do this work and the infrastructure needed to serve refugees in the years to come.”
In the past six months, World Relief has resettled 6,700 refugees who have fled war zones in the United States. They have already collected 12,000 signatures from evangelical Christians to petition the executive order.
Other Catholic and many mainline Protestant leaders have also expressed outrage. “We believe in assisting all, regardless of their religious beliefs,” said Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, the chairman of the committee on migration for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
According to The New York Times, banning refugees from Syria alone would cut the number of refugees admitted to the United States by 60,000. The article states, “By barring any refugees from entering the United States for nearly four months, it leaves people to suffer longer in camps and prevents families from reuniting.”
But leaders such as Franklin Graham support a temporary ban, stating, “We need to be sure their philosophies related to freedom and liberty are in line with ours.” He also said that people who follow Sharia law hold beliefs “ultimately incompatible with the Constitution of this nation.”
In a statement, the United Methodist Women urged others to denounce the ban. “Our nation has a moral obligation to welcome refugees in numbers commensurate with the need, rather than excluding persons in need due to fear or xenophobia.”