By Perle Desir, Opinion Writer
On Friday, January 20, 2017, Donald Trump, a declared Presbytarian, swore on the Bible to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States.” Ten days later, he called for a temporary ban, lasting 120 days, to prevent terrorists from entering the United States. Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen were the Muslim-majority countries listed under this order.
Three questions come to mind when discussing the Muslim ban.
One: is this legal? According to ProPublica, per section 212 (f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, this governmental decision, though controversial, is permissible.
Two: is this about religion? “This is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe”, President Donald Trump said in a statement released by the White House. Pretending to know another man’s mind is outlandish. And so, no matter the skepticism, these words are to be taken at face value.
Three: is this Christian? It is commonly known that conservative Christians, evangelicals especially, played a key role in Trump’s political coalition. Many identified with his message of “Making America Great Again.”
As a cradle Roman Catholic, raised with Scriptures that dictate extending love to others, caring about the oppressed and welcoming one’s neighbor, I am intrigued by the large number of self-identified Christians who fully support Trump’s policies.
Does turning away Muslim refugees and their families while contemplating a database to track all Muslim U.S. citizens line up with Christian values?
Christian faith means many things to many people. Nevertheless, it is an uncontested fact that according to Jesus in the Gospels, the most important moral principle is to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself.
With this in mind, there is but one conclusion: A Christian who supports Trump’s Muslim ban supports it in spite of Christian convictions
Being Christian is to understand that love trumps fear and to know that such a love is sacrificial; that it requires selflessness and putting one’s neighbor first.
Turning our backs to Muslim refugees seeking security in our land, refusing to challenge our fears, and putting ourselves and safety first at the expense of disempowering others simply doesn’t reflect Christian belief.
According to Aristotle Papanikolaou, co-director of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center at Fordham University, “a politics of empathy” is necessary within the Christian community. All Christians must imagine what it would be like in the body of the oppressed; in the shoes of Muslim individuals afraid to travel overseas to visit their family and risk a deinal of re-enty into the US.
These times call for Christians to stand with the oppressed. We no longer need Christians who pick and choose which Gospels to quote in order to justify fear-triggered behavior. We no longer need Christians who put themselves and their own safety above anyone else’s at the expense of terrorizing vulnerable communities.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 21st print edition.
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