Should the U.S. Accept Syrian Refugees?

By Stan Guthrie

Here are my still-developing thoughts and questions about the U.S. taking in Syrian refugees en masse:

Many Muslims, Christians, and others have suffered terribly at the hands of ISIS and Assad. They deserve, as human beings made in God’s image, our compassion and help. The question is, given the security needs of America, what kind of help?

ISIS has boasted that it will infiltrate the Syrian refugee population in order to wreak havoc in the West, which it evidently has done already in Paris and elsewhere. It promises to bring its special brand of Islamist mayhem to Washington, D.C. We should take these thugs at their word.

Given that ISIS agents will come to our shores among these legitimate refugees, we must ask what level of carnage among innocent Americans is acceptable to the administration, which insists that opening the door to a massive influx of Syrian refugees is the “American” thing to do? Is one “Paris” per year acceptable in order to display our humanitarian values? How about two? We need a cost-benefit analysis. What is the number? Don’t American lives matter, too?

The administration assures us that it will do exhaustive background checks on the newcomers. Really? These people are fleeing a war and may have no documents or other ways of proving who they are. There are as yet no databases. If there is a reliable way to do background checks in this situation, I haven’t heard it. Until there is, it is foolish to bring in tens of thousands of people who are unknown to us.

And given this administration’s inept handling (I’m being kind) of illegals already coming across our border, the VA scandal in which thousands of vets have died while waiting for an appointment or treatment, the Rube Goldberg machine otherwise known as Obamacare, the “stimulus” that stimulated nothing, and the ongoing scandals in the president’s own Secret Service detail, along with other problems too numerous to list, is it wrong to doubt the administration’s competence–let alone its word–to keep this pledge?

The U.S. is already the world leader in accepting refugees. We probably take in more people fleeing religious or political persecution than any nation on earth–and probably more than all other countries combined. Is it so unfair to ask some of the slacker countries, who are closer to the violence, to do their fair share?

Some say we ought to do this because it is the “Christian” thing to do, or they trot out the inane argument that Jesus would do it, so we should, too. Frankly, many who make these kinds of arguments always object when it comes to prayer in schools, Christmas displays, teaching the Bible in the public schools, paying for abortions or contraception, etc. They’ll even sue us, eagerly and remorselessly, if we demur.

They’re all for guilting us into taking the action they want based on our Christian faith, but when we want to express it in some other area, the answer is always some blather about the “separation of church and state.” Hypocrites.

Yes, helping the persecuted is a perpetual responsibility for the church and, to a lesser degree, for the United States. But this does not mean that we must open the doors to this country to any and all comers, without restriction, without regard to legitimate security concerns. Keeping the peace is the government’s job. The apostle Paul, after all, said that government has the responsibility from God to keep order and punish lawbreakers. When government wields the sword in this manner, we can live peaceful and godly lives, and the gospel can go forth.

The U.S. certainly can help the legitimate refugees without trying to absorb them into the country right now. We can provide money, resources, and expertise to countries that are already receiving them, as well as those who need to do their share. We might set up a safe haven in Syria to keep the refugees in their own land, ready to return to their homes when and if the situation allows. This will require a U.S. military presence, but that is coming anyway, whether Mr. Obama knows it or not.

As a firm believer in the sovereignty of God and in His heart for the nations, I suspect that God is allowing the current upheaval, in part, to put Muslims and other non-Christians in places where they can more readily hear the good news. And we must tell them.

Christians have a great and growing opportunity to share the love of Christ by word and deed to Syrian refugees here, there, and everywhere. While I don’t support an American policy of opening the doors to tens of thousands of unvettable Syrian refugees, that does not mean we Christians should ever turn our backs on them. I already know of missionaries who are ministering to new arrivals in the heart of Europe.

As well, Europe is home not only to growing numbers of Muslims, but to growing numbers of non-Western Christians who follow the Savior even when most Europeans have forgotten their Christian heritage. I believe these vibrant Christian communities scattered across the continent have a huge job to do and will do it well–with our help.

So I do not support the wholesale importation of Syrian refugees into America at this time. I do, however, support sharing the love of Jesus with them, wherever they are.

About Stan Guthrie

Stan Guthrie is an editor at large for Christianity Today magazine and for the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. His latest book is God's Story in 66 Verses. He also is author of All that Jesus Asks: How His Questions Can Teach and Transform Us, Missions in the Third Millennium: 21 Key Trends for the 21st Century, and A Concise Guide to Bible Prophecy. He is co-author of The Sacrament of Evangelism. Besides authoring, writing, and editing books, Stan is a literary agent, bringing together good authors, good books, and good publishers. Stan writes the monthly Priorities colum for He has appeared on National Public Radio's €œTell Me More,€ WGN's Milt Rosenberg program, and many Christian shows, including The Eric Metaxas Show and Moody Radio'€™s €œNew Day Florida.€ A licensed minister and an inspirational speaker, he served as moderator for the Christian Book Expo panel discussion, Does the God of Christianity Exist, and What Difference Does It Make?
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