Bible Implores Us To Welcome Foreigners, RefugeesÂ
Around the country, millions of Christians gathered to pray this morning. They listened to homilies, sang hymns, read devotional texts, and prayed for the health and safety of our leaders and our world. Countless pastors and preachers undoubtedly spoke from the pulpit on the necessity of President Donald Trumpâ€™s executive order banning refugees from certain Muslim-majority countries.Â
They likely praised Trumpâ€™s action because the order prioritizes members of â€œminority religionsâ€ from those places and grants them special privileges that other refugees donâ€™t enjoy. In practice, the executive order places a higher priority on Christian refugees. Sure, there are adherents to other minority religions who will be affected, but the primary focus is Christians. Â
Iâ€™m not now nor have I ever been a Christian. Iâ€™m pretty sure Iâ€™ve said more than a few times here that Iâ€™m an observant Jew and I often approach the world from that perspective. I have a masterâ€™s degree in Jewish education from one of the best programs at one of the best universities in the world. Iâ€™m most definitely not new to religion, scripture, and theology, and even though Iâ€™m not Christian Iâ€™ve devoted a bit of time to studying it in order to learn more about my friends and neighbors.Â
Considering how much Iâ€™ve studied scripture and theology, Iâ€™m absolutely racking my brain trying to figure out how someone who calls themseves a Christian can support a ban on refugees. I donâ€™t understand how anyone can say that the Bible is the word of God while simultaneously saying theyâ€™re commanded to deny sanctuary to vulnerable refugees. Â
Exodus 22:20 says, â€œDo not persecute and do not oppress the foreigner, because you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.â€Â It doesnâ€™t get more explicit than a blatant prohibition on persecution and oppression directed at refugees.
Numbers 15:15 tells us that strangers and residents should be treated equally before the law and before God. If we take a step back into the larger context, there are four (four!) different commands that make it clear that the law should be exactly the same for foreigners and residents found in Numbers 15:14-16.Â
Exodus 12:49 makes it even more explicit: â€œThere shall be one law for the citizen and for the foreigner who resides among you.â€ That’s a direct translation.
Exodus 23:9 commands believers not to oppress the foreigner because we know the feelings â€” literally, because we â€œknow the soulâ€ â€” of the foreigner, because we were also foreigners (refugees) in the land of Egypt.
What Christians call the Old Testament â€” and what us Jews just call the Bible â€” is absolutely filled with references to foreigners. Abraham was explicitly called a refugee. The Israelites were refugees from their homeland as they left and went down to Egypt, and in no uncertain terms, Leviticus 19:18 commands us to â€œlove your neighbor as yourself.â€
When discussing Christian theology, many are quick to point out that Jesus negated much of the law contained in the Jewish Bible, and theyâ€™re right. Itâ€™s why Christians donâ€™t observe the dietary laws or many of the other customs that observant Jews follow.
Because of this disparity between Jewish theology and Christian theology, I decided to go a bit farther in my research and look at some of whatâ€™s written in what Chrisians call the New Testament. Hereâ€™s what I found:
In Mark 12:31 Jesus directly quotes Leviticus 19:18 saying, â€œYou shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater.â€ Thatâ€™s pretty clear, huh?
Matthew 25:35-46 warns very explicitly that people who do not feed those who are hungry, clothe the naked, or welcome the stranger will â€œgo away into eternal punishment.â€ (Can you get more clear than the threat of eternal damnation for not welcoming the stranger? I donâ€™t think you can.)
In Romans 12:13, Paul declares that the mark of a true Christian is shown in one who is quick to â€œextend hospitality to strangers.â€ A few verses earlier he warns those listening not to â€œbe conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God â€” what is good and acceptable and perfect. (12:2) He continues, â€œWelcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.â€ (15:7)Â
Hebrews 13:1-2 begs to â€œLet mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angles without knowing it.â€ Who knows what potential weâ€™re denying by refusing to extend a welcome to the vulnerable.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of all Biblical sources from either the Hebrew or Christian Bibles that show how strongly believers are commanded to welcome the refugee who is in need. According to the scripture, it is not just a duty but a moral imperative to welcome the stranger.Â
Iâ€™ll certainly be the first to say that religious beliefs should never mix with government policy. Specifically as an religiously observant person, I want the government to stay far, far away from my religious practices and theology. But Iâ€™d also be naive to say there arenâ€™t many, many people who believe their religious positions deserve a place of superiority both within our law and within our government. Many of these folks are consulting and advising President Trump and specifically recommended this executive order. Theyâ€™re also the same people who have made a living by being professional Christians in the Evangelical and other fundamentalist churches have often said that one cannot claim to be a true Christian if they willingly ignore whatâ€™s in Scripture.
So I return to my original question: How can anyone who claims to believe the Bible is the direct word of God support President Trumpâ€™s executive order banning refugees? How can you call yourself a Christian and so blatantly ignore these verses? I honestly donâ€™t understand.Â
Robbie Medwed is an Atlanta-based LGBTQ activist, educator, and writer. Heâ€™s absolutely sick of people using their religion as an excuse to persecute and harm those they dislike. Follow him on Twitter: @rjmedwed
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‘One Minute to Live, Sir’: Trump Shared Details of Soleimani Assassination With Top Dollar Donors at Mar-a-Lago Fundraiser
President Donald Trump shared moment-by-moment details of his assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani with top high-dollar donors at Friday night’s fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago. The Commander-in-Chief also revealed he authorized the killing, not because of any supposed “imminent threat,” as he has previously asserted, but because intelligence reports, he said, found Solemiani was “talking about bad stuff.”
Killing Solemani as an act of retribution instead of as a preventative measure against imminent attack could be a war crime, legal experts have said.
The Washington Post reports Trump “spoke broadly about Soleimani as ‘the father of the road side bomb’ responsible for ‘every young, beautiful man or woman who see walking around with no legs, no arms.'”
Soleimani “was saying bad things about our country, like we’re going to attack, we’re going to kill your people. I said, ‘listen, how much of this shit do we have to listen to, right?’” Trump said, to applause.
The president also gave a blow-by-blow account of Soleimani’s killing.
“‘Sir, they have two minutes and 11 seconds.’ No emotion. ‘two minutes and 11 seconds to live, sir. They’re in the car, they’re in an armored vehicle. Sir, they have approximately one minute to live, sir. 30 seconds. 10, 9, 8 …’ Then all of a sudden, boom,” Trump told the group of donors, according to audio recordings the Post received.
The Post also revealed that at Friday’s fundraiser, “Trump is heard boasting about increasing the defense budget by $2.5 trillion. To those who criticized his spending and the growing national debt, Trump said, ‘Who the hell cares about the budget? We’re going to have a country.'”
Lev Parnas Details ‘Intimate’ Cannabis Industry Dinner With Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump
In an extensive interview with the Daily Beast, Lev Parnas — the associate of Rudy Giuliani who is at the center of more allegations of corruption against Donald Trump — revealed details of a meeting he had with Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner that the White House has tried to dismiss.
Speaking with the Beast’s Betsy Swan, Parnas stated that we was a participant at a private dinner at the Trump Hotel, with Swan writing, “In October 2018, he attended a dinner in a private suite at Trump Hotel hosted by the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action. The dinner, with around a dozen people, connected Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump with leaders in the cannabis industry. Parnas said he was invited because he “was a Trump loyalist,” and because the super PAC’s Director of Development Joey Ahearn knew he was pro-cannabis.”
According to Parnas, cannabis entrepreneurs were hoping to influence Kushner in the hope he could influence the White House’s stance on weed.
“They wanted Jared to be more involved, maybe help push the agenda with the president because they felt that that was something he needed to be more lenient on,” Parnas explained.
As for a picture taken with the couple that went viral, Parnas sais the White House was lying about the circumstances under which is was taken.
“The White House has claimed that a picture of Parnas with Kushner and Ivanka Trump was ‘taken at an event in a photo line.’” the report states. “Parnas, however, said it was taken at the intimate dinner with cannabis industry insiders. Two sources with knowledge of the dinner confirmed that it happened in October 2018 and that Parnas attended. The decor in the background of the picture–as Zack Everson, author of a newsletter on Trump properties noted–indicates the photo was taken in the pricey Trump Hotel suite where the dinner was hosted.”
You can read more here.
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Subsequent investigations have failed to find any evidence that Strzok, Page, or any other FBI officials tried to politically target Trump with the power of the agency. However, a recent inspector general report suggests some of their surveillance practices may have been improper and require reform.
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