Since the Paris attacks, my Facebook feed has filled up with two things:
1. Temporary profile pictures in the blue, white and red colors of the French flag.
2. Friends debating the pros and cons of allowing Syrian refugees into the U.S.
Michael, a minister, sparked 100-plus comments when he declared:
I know a lot of people will strongly disagree with this, but I think terrorists within our borders is the price we must be willing to pay if absolutely necessary for showing Christ-glorifying love and help to Syrian refugees who live with this evil every day. A sovereign God has called us to help and defend the cause of the immigrant, regardless of the costs. "Your kingdom come, your will be done..."
Phil, also a minister, seemed to take a different position with this status:
The attack on France included at least one Syrian refugee. What will happen to us when we take them in? Do we want to invite our enemies into our house and support them?
Enter Donald Trump into the discussion, courtesy of The Washington Post:
Read the Post's lede, and many of the issues my friends are debating on social media emerge:
BEAUMONT, Tex. — For John Courts, the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed at least 132 people provided more evidence of something he has long suspected: Syrian refugees are not to be trusted.
“I think they’re wolves in sheeps’ clothing,” said Courts, 36, a police officer in this industrial town in southeast Texas who attended a political rally for Donald Trump on Saturday. “Bringing those refugees here is very dangerous. Yeah, they need help, but it’s going to bring terrorism right into our front door.”
Courts was relieved a few weeks ago when Trump first promised to kick all Syrian refugees out of the country and not allow any more in. Other Republican presidential candidates have been much more restrained on the issue — until the Paris attacks, which have been blamed on Islamic State terrorists.
Concern about Syrian refugees entering the country has been growing among conservatives for months. They have seen the footage of ruthless Islamic State fighters and read reports of these terrorists beheading Christians, torturing hostages and killing in the name of their faith. They assume that terrorists capable of such acts would pose as refugees. And they are uncomfortable that most Syrians are Muslims — making it all the more difficult to distinguish terrorists from innocent refugees.
Since Friday, several Republican presidential candidates have called for Christian refugees to receive different treatment than Muslim refugees. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush said Sunday that the United States should focus on “Christians that are being slaughtered.” Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said the country could continue to provide a “safe haven” for Christians but not “refugees that may have been infiltrated by ISIS.”
In a new development today, Reuters reports:
Keep reading the Post story, and bits and pieces of religion pepper the story — including some conservative Republicans' lingering suspicions that President Barack Obama is a Muslim.
Near the end of the report, there's this note:
Inside the rally, Mary Stevens, 70, held a homemade sign reading “No Muslim refugees.”
“I don’t mind taking refugees who are Christian,” said Stevens, who lives in Marietta, Ga., “but the Muslims scare me.”
All in all, the story does a pretty nice job of covering the politics. But that seems to leave little room for the theology.
Not that every story quoting a Christian must ask "What would Jesus do?" But I'd be curious to know how the folks quoted — presumably Christians — balance their politics with their theology: Did Jesus say anything about how to treat one's enemies? If so, does what he said have any application to the refugee situation?
Along those same lines, does the Bible say anything about how Christians are to treat refugees? Does tightening one's borders fit the theological content of the Scriptures? Why or why not? On social media, Christians certainly are asking those sorts of questions (and yes, coming to different conclusions).
Given the big news in Paris — and beyond — now would seem like prime time for reporters to engage such discussions.
Editor's note for purpose of full disclosure: Bobby Ross Jr. writes occasional freelance stories for The Washington Post.