Since the terrorist attacks in Paris, governors across the country have begun fighting to prevent Syrian refugees from finding solace in their state. Conservative leaders have not only sold lies about the refugees to the American people, but are diligently sowing seeds of hate for people of the Islamic faith in the hearts of Christians. Refusing to give shelter to Syrian families and individuals who have fled their war torn country in hopes of a better life is not only historically unAmerican, but goes against the teaching of Jesus Christ.
Throughout America’s history, we’ve proudly given refugees from war torn countries a chance to live the American Dream. In the wake of World War II, America accepted over 250,000 displaced Europeans. Shortly after, Congress enacted the Displaced Persons Act of 1948, which provided admission of an additional 400,000 displaced Europeans. Later, laws provided for the admission of refugees fleeing Communist nations, such as Hungary, Poland, Yugoslavia, Korea, and China. In 1975, America settled hundreds of thousands of Indochinese refugees.
With so many conservative leaders who claim to stand on Christian principles voicing opposition to accepting refugees, it leaves to question not only their faith, but their understanding of what our country has long been a symbol of. The story of the Good Samaritan, a parable taught by Jesus, gives us insight into how Christ would have Christians handle the Syrian refugees.
In the Gospel of Luke, an expert in the law points to the passage in the Scriptures that commands, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” “Who is my neighbor?” he asks Jesus. Christ answers him with the Parable of the Good Samaritan. In the parable, an Israelite traveler is stripped, beaten, and left to die on the side of a road. Two travelers, a priest and Levite, pass him by; neither of them stop to help. But one good Samaritan extends compassion to the traveler.
For the audience of Jesus’ day, this story would’ve been shocking; history tells us that Samaritans and the Israelites despised one another, much as Israelis and Palestinians do today. The parable concludes:
[The Samaritan] went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then, he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
After finishing the parable, Jesus asked the lawyer, “So which of the three do you think was neighbor to him, who fell among the thieves?” The man replied, “He who showed mercy on him.” Christ then said, “Go and do likewise.”
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WHEN more than two dozen governors began fighting to prevent refugees from entering their state, they did so using facts cooked up by presidential candidates who are exploiting a tragedy to garner support for their political campaigns.
Conservatives claim that an overwhelming majority of the refugees are “young men” of fighting age. According to the figures from the United Nations, 50.5% of all the refugees are women. Females ages 18 to 59 make up 23.9% of all refugees with males in the same age group making up 21.8%. Females ages 12 to 17 make up 6.1% of all refugees with males in the same age group making up 6.5%. 51% of all the refugees are under the age of 17 with 38.5% of all refugees being under the age of 12.
At one time, Americans believed there was a place in our country for anyone seeking to live the American Dream. In 1886, the Statue of Liberty was gifted to America as an emblem of the friendship between the people of France and the United States, and a sign for our mutual desire for liberty. The Statue of Liberty grew to become a symbol of freedom around the globe. On the Statue of Liberty, it is written:
Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses yearning
to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your
Send these, the homeless,
tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the
Americans have forgotten that we lived a privileged life. We don’t have to worry about fleeing our country in fear that the military will kill our families. We will never be able to remotely fathom the pain endured by the refugees, but as Americans, we should be reaching out our hands, giving these stripped, beaten travelers the solace they seek, just as our country has done countless times before.