The Myanmar military response has sent more than 410,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh, escaping what they and rights monitors say is a campaign aimed at driving out the Muslim population.
“This is a fast-growing humanitarian situation which we have never seen before,” said Benson Okabo, World Vision’s West Nile Refugee Response operations manager. “We are concerned that the donor assistance has been little.”
Francis’ politically pointed message was made on August 21 in view of the Catholic Church’s 2018 world refugee day, celebrated Jan. 14. It comes amid mounting anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe and beyond after waves of migrant arrivals and Islamic extremist attacks.
In the wake of Trump’s executive orders restricting travel to the U.S. from seven — and under the revised travel ban, six — Muslim-majority countries, the report said, “the religious affiliation of refugees has come under scrutiny.”
Even more difficult than the question of whether or not we are collectively willing to break the law is the question of whether we are ready to embody what a “culture of sanctuary” holistically invites us to be.
On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to hear during its next term a case regarding President Trump’s ban on travel into the U.S. for people from six countries whose populations are majorly Muslim. In doing so, the Supreme Court permitted a revised version of President Trump’s ban to go into effect immediately until the case is heard. The Supreme Court’s next term will begin in October.
The idea of having power is so enticing that of all the theoretical options to destroy Christ, Satan chose the promise of ruling the world as his best and final temptation of Jesus in the desert. It was ultimately a futile attempt, but given the biblical narratives displaying humanity’s addictive desire for earthly kingdoms, their bloodlust for military victories, quests for political dominance, and insatiable greed for wealth, it’s unsurprising that it’s through these manifestations that Christianity is most vulnerable to ruin.
For many Asian immigrants and refugees, coming to the United States wasn’t fully voluntary, but a result of war and poverty. Just as the Hebrews needed to learn to live as exiles, Asian Americans needed to find a way to make a new home in a new land. While their hardships reflect the difficulty of exile, Jimmy’s and Mary’s familial love and corporate responsibility also model for me how we Christians are to follow Jesus in the midst of this empire.
Lancaster, Pa., isn’t exactly a big city, but with a population of about 60,000, it’s also not the sort of place where you’d expect to bump into people you know at every intersection. Neither would you expect those people to be from Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cuba, Ukraine, or Syria.
But if you’re Christine Baer, congregational resource developer for Church World Service, such encounters are all in a day’s work, and they usually result in an invitation to someone’s home for dinner.
CWS is the relief, development, and refugee assistance arm of the National Council of the Churches of Christ. It relies on volunteers in the community to help newly arrived refugees restart their lives in the United States.
Congregations make up the family welcome teams, a vital part of the resettlement process. But about 10 years ago, congregational co-sponsorship of refugees resettled in the Lancaster area began to decline, and as recently as three years ago, only five congregations were sponsoring families. Baer attributes the drop to a difference in the way people practice church and community today and to people’s lives being busier and faster, with less time to commit to volunteer work.
Tucked up near the Austrian border, about 160 miles from Budapest, is a small Hungarian town of 12,000 people. It’s a quiet place about three and a half hours, and two trains rides, from Hungary’s capital.
But the community has been split by the decision of the local Catholic parish priest, the Rev. Zoltan Nemeth, to allow some asylum-seekers to take shelter in a church building.
Sincere love during these times means offering sanctuary for the sojourner, risking our congregations, and even putting our bodies on the line — knowing that our true citizenship is in the Kingdom, where no one is illegal and all are loved.
Pope Francis used his traditional Easter Sunday message to call the bombing of a refugee convoy near Aleppo, Syria, a “despicable attack”, and urged world leaders to “prevent the spread of conflicts” despite mounting tensions in Syria and North Korea.
In his Easter blessing, known as “Urbi et Orbi” (“to the city and the world”), the pope urged the faithful to remember “all those forced to leave their homelands as a result of armed conflicts, terrorist attacks, famine, and oppressive regimes.”
In the midst of so much death, how can we Christians celebrate Easter?
These questions can be paired with questions regarding our own sense of worship on that day. How much have we Christians replaced justice with worship, not taking one into serious relation with the other? Are we accustomed to worship in the total absence of justice?
For the first time, a majority of Americans has voiced concern about violence against Jews, polling by the Anti-Defamation League shows.
While 52 percent of Americans surveyed said they are disturbed about such violence, an even higher percentage — 76 percent — said they are concerned about violence against Muslims.
It was her desire to hear the stories of real people — “not just faceless refugees or immigrants” — that brought the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton to a refugee resettlement agency that provides a range of services to refugees in the Chicago area.
“Especially now, when there’s this fear that’s been stirred up, and anti-refugee sentiment, it’s really critical to say, ‘No, these people are our grandparents, our aunts and uncles,” said the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the nation’s largest Lutheran denomination.
Christians who refuse to break rank from their political tribes and social circles at the expense of refugees, immigrants, the sick, the poor, the uneducated, the maligned, and the outcast are prioritizing carnal hopes rather than divine promises.
This executive order is strikingly similar to the first order signed by President Trump on Jan. 26, which ordered "extreme vetting" for refugees, indefinitely blocked entry to Syrian refugees, suspended visa issuances to anyone from seven countries, and suspended all refugee entry for 120 days.
The new language signals the Trump administration's intent to put forward an executive order that will stand.
In her sermon on the last Sunday of Black History Month, the Rev. Maria Swearingen preached about her belief that black lives, “queer lives,” and immigrant lives matter.
And since it also was Transfiguration Sunday, she pointed to the story in the Gospel of Matthew where God declared Jesus “beloved.” That is a term, she said, that can be used for everyone.
Real people, with real stories, and real families are trembling in fear for the future of their families and, in some cases, their own lives. For those of us who follow Jesus, our faith must inform our citizenship — not the inverse. It's time for us to ask better questions, seek deeper understanding and accompany our neighbors— whether local or global — who are navigating the scariest moments of their lives.