10 Reasons Why United Methodists Should Ignore the Republican Governors

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By Rev. Dr. Wes Magruder*

How about that backlash, eh?

Wes Magruder

Wes Magruder

The general goodwill that has been building the last few months toward Syrian refugees all but disappeared faster than you can say, “Bon jour” after the horror in France over the weekend. Apparently, compassion is one of the first victims of terrorism. Add a mixture of fear, partisanship, and general confusion, and you have what happened in America on Monday morning when a bunch of Republican governors woke up and decided to remove the welcome mat for Syrian refugees.

It’s much to do about absolutely nothing. Here’s ten good reasons why United Methodists should ignore the Republican governors’ responses to Syrian refugees:

  1. Responsibility for setting refugee policy rests solely in the executive branch, according to the Refugee Act of 1980. No matter what the states say, it’s up to the president to determine which refugees can — or can’t — come in. So fire away, gov’s. It’s just not up to you.
  2. Worried about terrorism? Aren’t we all? That’s why refugees already are “the single-most scrutinized and vetted individuals to travel to the United States” according to Refugee Services of Texas CEO, Aaron Rippenkroeger. Refugees spend between 18 months to 2 years waiting on the results of their security checks, before they come to America.
  3. The Old Testament is pretty clear on this. To cite just one example of many, “You shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt” (Lev. 19:34). The word for “alien” in Hebrew does not refer to little green men from Mars; it’s the word ger and it is best translated as foreigner, as in sojourner, temporary dweller, a newcomer with no inherited rights. In other words, a refugee! There are all sorts of laws meant to protect, care for, and support refugees in the Hebrew Scripture.
  4. Remember this cute slogan? “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” Even though John Wesley didn’t actually say it, we Methodists try to take it to heart. The governors are trying to keep us from doing this particular kind of good.
  5. Fear mongering may lead to more votes. But fear itself leads to bad policy. These responses are simply an irrational reaction to the repulsion we all felt for the terrorist attacks in Paris. We are called to “be not afraid.”
  6. Just because your friends are doing it, doesn’t make it right. On Monday morning of this week, news first broke in Michigan and then in Texas, and next thing you know, there was an avalanche of governors announcing that they were refusing Syrians. When every one of the 28 governors except one is Republican, then you should recognize that you’re watching folks jumping on a bash-Obama bandwagon.
  7. Only two and a half short months ago, we were all abuzz about the pictures of a little boy washed up on a beach in Turkey. There was a flurry of sympathy for the refugees, and international cries for support and welcome. It highlighted the plight of the men, women, and children who take desperate measures to escape terrorism in Syria. And guess what? Their plight hasn’t changed. Our response shouldn’t change either.
  8. This is partly also about the fear of Islam. Most of the governors are wise not to admit this out loud, but leave it to Ted Cruz to voice it openly: “President Obama and Hillary Clinton’s idea that we should bring tens of thousands of Syrian Muslim refugees to America—it is nothing less than lunacy. On the other hand, Christians who are being targeted for genocide, for persecution, Christians who are being beheaded or crucified, we should be providing safe haven to them … There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror.” Is a comment necessary here?
  9. Jesus was a refugee. Matthew 2:13-15. Look it up.
  10. Did I already mention that the governors don’t have the power to actually enforce this? Yeah, I thought so.

 

*Wes Magruder is senior pastor of Kessler Park United Methodist Church and chair of the board of the nonprofit Refugee Services of Texas. Reach him through wes@kpumc.org.

For a copy of Wes Magruder’s book, Jesus Was a Refugee, go to amazon.com, or click here:

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57 Comments on "10 Reasons Why United Methodists Should Ignore the Republican Governors"

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 
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George Nixon Shuler
Guest

No attack, Bro. Read it again. It’s praise.

Scott
Guest

Amen. This type of partisan article from UMC clergy is why I have such an issue with the UMC and am seriously considering departing from it.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

This seems harsh. It seems your reading comprehension of the writer’s 2013 is flawed as well. We are all team players and innovators at once; what matters is just how we determine to play either role. Some choose to be “team players” when it comes to backing up the bully; others choose to aid the oppressed. By your reasoning then the crucifixion of Christ was a necessary ‘team building’ on the part of the Hebrew elite and their Roman overlords.

Paul W.
Guest

Also, there is much irony in Mr. Magruder choosing to quote Leviticus 19 as a proof-text for his position (Item #3, stating “The Old Testament is pretty clear on this”). Here we have a man who is on record that chapters 18 and 20 of Leviticus are non-authoritative, ambiguous, and wrong, but, for some reason, chooses to insist that the chapter that falls between them is authoritative, clear, and accurate — a very strange hermeneutic indeed.

Paul W.
Guest
Name-calling is not my intent. I have looked up what I could find on Mr. Magruder. What I found is truly disappointing. While it is clear that he is a politically liberal social justice advocate, I have yet to find anything at all that would clearly indicate that he is a Christian who believes that the Bible is the Word of the God, that Jesus is the Son of God, that faith in Christ is necessary for salvation, and that, without Christ, we will die in our sins and face the wrath of God. If anyone can point me to… Read more »
Charles Harrison
Admin

Paul, it is out of bounds to attack people on UMR. You are doing so with this posted comment. Please stick to a discussion of ideas and leave out the personal attacks on individuals. Your ideas have the greatest value. Stick to that. Consider this a friendly warning. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Charles Harrison
Admin

Yes Russ there have. And they have been warned as well and repeated violations have caused them to be banned. We have actually banned significantly more liberals here and on the Facebook page than we have banned conservatives. Thank you for taking the time to express your concern.

Paul W.
Guest
Mr. Harrison, my sincere apologies for crossing the line. You are correct. I should have been aware and sensitive to how my comments would be viewed by those who hold theologically liberal and progressive views. As you point out, the correct focus is not on the individual, but on the bigger picture. In this case, that bigger picture is the UMC’s schizophrenia regarding doctrine and what it means to be a Christian. We currently have multiple theological groups within the UMC that hold vastly different, usually incompatible, understandings of the doctrines and basics of the Christian faith. Even though the… Read more »
Charles Harrison
Admin

Thank you Paul.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

What the fellow believes about such things is up to him whether to share or not.
Anybody who believes perdition awaits those who are not politically correct and states so as you have done heretofore, reveals the utter worthlessness of such a person’s hebbin.

Lee Dunkelberg
Guest
It’s good to so many were able to use their flashlights to read this whilst hiding under their beds. Pretty sad reaction. When are we going to start forcing young, white males into camps? When are we going to start deporting radicalized anti-abortionists. They are among us. There is plenty of home-grown hate (as evidenced in many of these responses). Letting in some folks with gratitude could only help. By the way, none of the Paris attackers have been identified as refugees, but by believing that you are helping ISIS’s cause. By rejecting these refugees, you are playing into the… Read more »
Gary Nunnally
Guest
A silly article from a pastor who doubles as a shill for the White House. I wish pastors like Magruder would recognize that in Islam we have every reason to be afraid. Islam is the scourge of world religions. It is totalitarian, oppressive, violent and murderous, regressive and totally hostile to the Christian faith. The refugees we import bring that ideology with them and become the future jihadis, or their children will, which will plague our families, our fellow Americans and ourselves. If we know that, and there is abundant evidence that is the case, why allow the refugees in?… Read more »
George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Actually the French are taking in more refugees than we are.

Charles Harrison
Admin
George, can we invite you to limit your posts and try to say your point/idea in one single post? You are consistently posting multiple times within the same few minutes. This expresses a lack of thoughtfulness on your part. Every comment does not need a response from you or a retort even, that is if you can make your idea/opinion clear in one original post. Please don’t attack other people who comment. We ask that you learn to self-limit your comments posted. If someone asks you a question, feel free to respond but otherwise 99% of the time a single… Read more »
George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Sir, when you permit multiple posts full of namecalling and political posturing from the members of the right wing caucus here, yet call me out in public, it does not appear to me that you are acting appropriately. Unless, of course, I am interfering with the plan to placate the extremists with the idea that their playing “Ain’t It Awful?” here actually matters, in which case, I bow to your superior judgment.

Charles Harrison
Admin

George, we are simply asking you to self moderate. Attacking us for asking you to chill-out shows why we are asking you to do so. Thank you for cooperating.

Michael Heller
Guest
I’m glad to see there are so many rational people who have read this article and recognize it for the liberal perspective it is. Compassion for refugees doesn’t include free admission to our country. The incompetence of the Obama administration that has been proven many times over the past seven years proves it is incapable of ensuring that extreme Islamic terrorists won’t sneak into our country along with the refugees. Safety of American citizens MUST be the first job of any president. Obama doesn’t seem to care about this. Rev Magruder mentions the quote attributed to John Wesley. Doing all… Read more »
Wes Andrews
Guest

Yes, and one more thing. What’s up with progressives being rude? How does this really further their causes? Wes M seems to be rather proud that he is disrespectful and self-righteous. I think the progressives have really become the net-fundamentalists who come off judgmental to anyone who disagrees with them. I would be more than glad to hear the rationale for this kind of attitude.

Merry Christmas!!!
Guest
To the list from Daily Mail one must add one notable individual… Nidal Hasan. You remember him. He was the devout muslim U.S. military doctor who opened fire on his fellow soldiers at Ft. Hood. After firing 200 rounds of ammunition he was subdued. He left 13 dead and 32 wounded. Of course he was not a muslim terrorists. That would not have been helpful to the administration. These soldiers just happened to be getting medical checkups before deploying to Afghanistan. Throughout the affair Hasan was heard shouting “Allahu ­akbar!” meaning “God is great,” as he killed and wounded his… Read more »
George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Dr. Hassan was the stereotypical “crazy psychiatrist.” His religion was immaterial except he objected to Bush II regime policy on Iraq and went off the rails over the fact he was being sent there.

bthomas
Guest
Both the defense and the prosecution had Dr. Hasan examined extensively. He was not in any way found to be mentally impaired. In every respect he was fully in command of his faculties. His extreme commitment to the Muslim faith were noted by many of his family as well as those with whom he worked. He spoke bluntly to the issue of Muslims in a secular society and in military service. He did not in any way “go off the rails.” He simply made a decision to act as a Muslim by killing unarmed defenseless American servicemen who were going… Read more »
Emily Cooper
Guest

Yes, United Methodists doors should be open to ALL – refugees, rich and poor, homeless and housed, straight and LGBT. (And, yes, this piece cries out for some more thought and editing to take the politics outside the church, although I note it is all “Republican governors” at this point.)

Michael Irvine
Guest
The liberal activist group ThinkProgress has a piece entitled “No, State Governors Can’t Refuse To Accept Syrian Refugees,” which states: Just in case there is any doubt, President Obama has explicit statutory authorization to accept foreign refugees into the United States. Under the Refugee Act of 1980, the president may admit refugees who face “persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion” into the United States, and the president’s power to do so is particularly robust if they determine that an “unforeseen emergency refugee situation” such… Read more »
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