Pew has a new poll out about American attitudes towards refugees and it paints a pretty damning picture of white so-called “evangelical Christians.” According to the poll, white evangelicals are the group that’s least likely to agree that the United States to accept refugees from other countries.
Overall, 51% of respondents agree that the U.S. has a responsibility to accept refugees, down 5 points from 56% in 2017. Most of the decline is due to (you guessed it!) Republicans whose support for accepting refugees dropped by 9 points in the last year, which probably has something to do with Trump’s vocal antipathy towards people of color and especially those seeking asylum here in the United States. Let’s not forget Trump had an Oval Office b-tch session about immigrants from “sh-thole” countries.
But the most glaring number in the poll is the rock-bottom support among white evangelicals. At only 25% they’re the group that’s least likely to be welcoming of refugees from other countries.
Black mainline protestants, on the other hand, support refugees coming to the United States with a whopping 63 percent agreeing that America has a duty to welcome them.
Ironically, white evangelicals were some of the most supportive of the war in Iraq, which helped destabilize the Middle East causing ripple effects that resulted in… waves and waves of refugees!
The white evangelical attitudes toward refugees stands in stark contrast to the teachings of the God they proclaim to worship. Other than the edicts to worship God above all others, “Love your neighbor as yourself” is probably the defining theme of the Christian bible, uniting both the old and new testaments.
As it says in Deuteronomy, “So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” Or take the book of Leviticus, which evangelicals love to cite in their opposition to same sex marriage, “Don’t mistreat any foreigners who live in your land. Instead, treat them as well as you treat your own people and love them as much as you love yourself. Remember, you were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.”
This isn’t the hippy-dippy “love all children of God” message from the new testament, this is the fire and brimstone God of the old testament! And it makes sense, the bible is replete with stories of the faithful cast out of their lands and traveling to new homes—even Jesus’s parents were refugees!
The biblical story of Sodom and Gamorrah, frequently cited by homophobic bigots as a story about God’s anger towards sodomy (that’s where the word comes from, by the way), is actually about the dangers of being unkind to visitors in your land and those less fortunate (“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. Sodom’s sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door.”).
If there are biblical texts where God says it’s totally cool to be a complete jerk to people in need, please lay them on me. In the meantime I’ll continue to consider white evangelicals as motivated by something other than “Christian love.”