Obama’s Religious Test: Christians Don’t Count

Orthodox Christians worship at a church in Damascus (photo credit: michael_swan via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)

Barack Obama says it is un-American to have a religious test in our refugee policy. But as we have pointed out, American law already states that we must have a religious test in deciding whether a certain group is in danger and should be given sanctuary. Here’s a quote right from the State Department’s web site about U.S. refugee policy:

Under U.S. law, a refugee must have a well-founded fear of persecution based on one of the five ‘protected grounds’: Religion, Political opinion, Race, Nationality, Membership in a particular social group.

Notice the very first category of “protected grounds” — RELIGION!

Previous administrations have followed that rule for Soviet Jews, Catholics from Vietnam and Christians and Jews in Iran. It is Obama who is not reflecting America’s values (or the law) when he insists that we should not have a religious test for refugees.

The reality in Syria and Iraq is that Christians and Yazidis are the most at risk of being murdered by ISIS. There is a genocide taking place and there is something deeply wrong with the refugee system now because only a miniscule percentage of Syrian Christians are being allowed in compared to Syrian Muslims.

Here’s something else to consider. Muslim refugees have a lot of options — Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc. Christians and Yazidis have no comparable haven in the Middle East. So again, priority ought to be given to Christians and Yazidis. Continue Reading

What Do Bush, Walker, and Graham Have Against Christians in Syria?

Orthodox Christians worship at a church in Damascus (photo credit: michael_swan via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)

Jeb Bush’s August 11th speech at the Reagan Presidential Library laid out a six-point blueprint for driving the remaining Christians out of Syria — unintentionally, perhaps, but effectively nonetheless.  Each element of his plan for Syria was contrary to the interests of those beleaguered Christians.  A point-by-point discussion of the plan and its defects is published here.  Scott Walker gave a decidedly less substantive speech on the same subject at The Citadel in Charleston, S.C., on August 28th, which also embraced policies contrary to the interests of Syria’s Christians.

By way of background, the Christian population of Syria was roughly two million before the civil war began in 2011 and is today under one million.  Most of the Christians in Syria live in areas controlled by the government of Bashir al-Assad, with some living in areas along the border with Turkey governed by a de facto Kurdish government.

Firstly, both Bush and Walker are calling for the violent overthrow of Assad before the defeat of the Islamic State.  This will plunge Syria into an even more violent competition for control between the extremist al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra and the more extremist Islamic State in which there will be literally no place for Christians to hide and which conflict will certainly spill over into Lebanon.

The greater monster in the Syrian conflict is the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL), not the Assad regime.  Continue Reading