Most refugees who enter the U.S. as religious minorities are Christians

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A little over a third of the refugees who were admitted into the United States in fiscal 2016 (37%) were religious minorities in their home countries. Of those, 61% were Christians, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the State Department’s Refugee Processing Center.

Muslims, the next largest group, made up 22% of the religious minority refugees who were admitted to the U.S. Other, smaller world religions and Hindus made up the bulk of the remaining religious minority refugees (9% and 6%, respectively).

The analysis comes as Donald Trump’s administration has announced it will give priority to religious minorities who apply for refugee status in the U.S. Trump himself has said that Christians will be given preference

The landscape is different when it comes to the two-thirds of refugees who entered the U.S. as religious majorities in fiscal 2016. Six-in-ten of these refugees (60%) were Muslim and 35% were Christian. Buddhists made up 6% of these refugees, coming mostly from Burma (Myanmar) and Bhutan.

The U.S. admitted 85,000 refugees in 2016. Almost all came from these 10 countries: the Democratic Republic of Congo (19%), Syria (15%), Burma (15%), Iraq (12%), Somalia (11%), Bhutan (7%), Iran (4%), Afghanistan (3%), Ukraine (3%) and Eritrea (2%).

Christians are a religious majority in three of these 10 countries. For example, the Democratic Republic of Congo – from which the U.S. accepted the largest number of refugees (over 16,000) in 2016 – is a predominantly Christian nation, split almost evenly between Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians. The vast majority (93%) of refugees accepted from that country were of these Christian denominations. Similarly, 61% of refugees coming to the U.S. from Eritrea in 2016 were Orthodox Christians, the majority religious group.

FULL ARTICLE FROM PEW RESEARCH 

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Muslim justice: A Christian Imperative for the Trump Years

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Our Muslim siblings have been under attack this week. While Muslim discrimination is not new, it’s taking more emboldened forms than ever before in the Trump era.

Last Friday, it came in the form of a travel ban from seven predominantly Muslim countries. On Tuesday, we learned that “extreme vetting” for some travelers from Muslim-majority countries would include prying into their social media accounts and phone records. On Wednesday, Reuters revealedthat the Trump administration would change the previously named “Countering Violent Extremism” program to “Countering Islamic Extremism,” dropping any focus on other extremist groups like white supremacists.

This is a clarion call for Christian action. If we don’t act now in solidarity with our Muslim siblings, we’ve got no legitimate reason to claim we are followers of Jesus, a man executed by the state for his own supposed “religious extremism.”

We’ve seen the institutionalization of religious bigotry into public policy before. Baptists were even subject to this violence in the past: Thomas Helwys, the founder of the Baptist way of faith, died in the King’s Newgate Prison in 1616 for his perspectives on religious liberty. Roger Williams, the progenitor of Baptists in America, was banished to the wilderness in 1635 where he founded Providence — this for his “dangerous opinions” (e.g., abolitionism, fair treatment of Native people, religious liberty).

FULL ARTICLE FROM BAPTIST NEWS

Christian Leaders Nearly Unanimous in Opposing Trump’s Muslim Ban

170129_pol_notnormalban-png-crop-promo-xlarge2When the Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump stated in December 2015 that the United States should close its borders to all Muslims, the reaction from American Christian leaders was admirably swift. Mainline Protestant clergy, prominent evangelicals, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops all lambasted it. “Anyone who cares an iota about religious liberty should denounce this reckless, demagogic rhetoric,” Southern Baptist Convention policy head Russell Moore wrote soon afterward. “A government that can shut down mosques simply because they are mosques can shut down Bible studies because they are Bible studies.” The day after Trump proposed his policy, the governor of Indiana, one evangelical Catholic named Mike Pence, tweeted that “Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional.”

Thirteen months later, Trump is president, and his calls to ban Muslims are making their way into law. Trump signed an executive order Friday that suspends immigration for at least 90 day from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen—all predominantly Muslim countries. The order also bans all refugees for at least 120 days and Syrian refugees indefinitely. When the ban ends, the order allows the U.S. government to prioritize applications based on the refugees’ religion. As my colleague Jim Newell explains:

Once refugee admissions resume, the government will “prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.” In other words, Trump has instructed the government to use religion as a means of prioritizing the processing of refugee applications. This, by Trump’s own admission, prioritizes Christians over Muslims coming from countries like Iraq or Yemen or Syria—if any Syrians are ever allowed—or other horrific lands from which someone might seek refuge. It effectively discriminates against Muslims on the basis of their religion.

FULL ARTICLE FROM SLATE 

All the Ways Trump Defies the Law and the Constitution by Targeting Muslims

trump-immigration-ban-illegal-25228cb2-8bc9-4f60-97c7-3d8ca1d98367Hameed Darweesh aided U.S. armed forces in Iraq as a translator and electrical engineer for over a decade. For obvious reasons, that put his life at risk. After his home was raided by Baghdad police and two of his colleagues were murdered at work, he and his family fled to another part of Iraq, according to court documents. Darweesh and his family then had to flee their new town when a shopkeeper informed him men driving around in a BMW were asking for him and wanted to know where he lived.

Darweesh is one of thousands of Iraqis who have risked their lives by cooperating with or working for the U.S. government. Congress created the Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program to get people like him who have “provided faithful and valuable service to the United States Government” out of harm’s way. But the process is painfully slow, and the number of people who actually receive visas after receiving promises of protection from the U.S. is shameful.

After over three years of applications, background checks, medical exams and other processing, the Darweesh family finally received their visa last week. They got on a plane immediately. While they were in the air, thinking they were finally on their way to the land of the free, President Trump signed a cruel and illegal executive order on immigration.

The order bans nationals from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days; the White House initially said this should be interpreted to include even those who are lawful permanent residents of the U.S. who had been out of the country temporarily. The order also halts all refugee admissions from anywhere in the world for 120 days, and all refugee admissions from Syria – where one of the greatest humanitarian crises since the Holocaust is underway – indefinitely.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE 

Trump’s refugee policy raises a question: How do you tell a Christian from a Muslim?

Busy street scene, Damascus SouqPresident Trump’s telling, the Middle East is a place where Christians run a daily gantlet of persecution, threatened at every corner by religious zealots eager to chop off their heads.

The U.S. government under previous administrations, he alleged, showed little pity.

“If you were a Muslim, you could come” to the U.S., he said in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network on Friday, “but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible.”

In an executive order he signed Friday, he suspended refugee resettlement from seven Muslim-majority countries for 120 days.  (Late Saturday night, a federal judge in New York issued an order halting the removal of refugees or others who hold valid visas to enter the U.S. The order appears to affect up to 200 people who were detained in transit to the United States.)

The order notes, however, that the secretaries of State and Homeland Security may jointly decide to admit some refugees “including when the person is a religious minority in his country of nationality facing religious persecution.”

But in proposing what commentators have called a “religious test,” Trump has not yet answered one crucial question: Just how does one differentiate between Muslims and Christians?

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE LA TIMES 

Trump blocks Muslim refugees, America loses a part of itself

ct-immigration-ban-protest-photos-20170128Let me address those celebrating President Donald Trump’s executive order barring refugees from Syria and other predominantly Muslim countries.

Let me address those who think keeping out Muslim refugees has somehow made us safer. That it has somehow made America better. That it has somehow shown us to be strong.

You are wrong. Woefully, embarrassingly, pathetically wrong.

As Trump signed the order Friday — with Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary James Mattis, two men who had previously denounced such an order, standing at his side, complicit — the terrorists won. The Islamic State militant group won.

This is exactly what they wanted. For us to defy who we are, who we’ve always been.

They can claim victory for getting us to bend to their will, not due to force, but due to fear. Baseless, unfounded fear. Fear that is not becoming of most Americans I know. Fear ginned up for purely political purposes. Fear that will now cost innocent children, women and men their lives and any chance at a future. Fear that will embolden our enemies and help drive up their numbers as the evil portrait they paint of us — as a Western power at war with Islam — is confirmed in some young minds.

Chicago advocates condemn Trump’s order on refugees, migrants
Chicago advocates condemn Trump’s order on refugees, migrants
Part of who we are went away as that order was signed. And we are not better for it — not at all.

We don’t look strong. We look cowardly.

And each and every person out there celebrating this decision, you don’t look tough. You don’t look patriotic. You look ignorant. And weak. Because you have turned your back on people in need.

You who are Christians have gone against everything Jesus taught. Everything.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Which Christians Are Telling Donald Trump to Keep Out Refugees?

lead_960President Trump has signed an executive order that temporarily suspends the U.S. refugee program and bars Syrian refugees. It will likely suspend immigration from certain Muslim-majority countries and bars the admission of anyone who engages in “acts of bigotry or hatred,” including “the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own.” It also allows the the secretaries of State and Homeland Security to jointly admit individuals on a case-by-case basis, “including when the person is a religious minority … facing religious persecution.”

In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network on Friday, Trump clarified what this means: Christians refugees will be given priority status. “They’ve been horribly treated,” the president said. “Do you know if you were a Christian in Syria it was impossible, at least very tough, to get into the United States? If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible.” People overseas “were chopping off the heads of everybody, but more so the Christians,” he added, “so we are going to help them.”

The announcement was met with immediate backlash from leaders of nearly every Christian denomination, along with those of other faiths. They argue that Trump’s actions do not reflect the teachings of the Bible, nor the traditions of the United States, and they have urged the president to let them get back to work—many of the country’s most prominent refugee resettlement organizations are faith-based.

If so many prominent Christian leaders reject the notion that their fellow Christians should get preferential treatment, why has this become Trump’s policy? One possible answer is that these leaders don’t necessarily reflect what their flocks believe. Even if they think an open refugee policy is in line with the teachings of Christianity, lay Americans don’t necessarily feel the same way.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY