“When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” – Leviticus 19:33-34
It’s truly incredible the way that tragedy warps the perceptions, opinions, and ethical boundaries of the populous. A week ago, any civilized person in the public eye would be foolish if not blatantly idiotic to proclaim religious superiority, or to imply that we should save some and not others – and yet, here we are in the wake of the Paris attacks, as one leading Republican candidate for the most powerful individual position on the planet openly declares that we should allow Christian refugees and banish Muslims. Ted Cruz, senator from the Lone Star state, will actually be introducing legislation to ban Muslim refugees from finding haven in the United States. Over thirty states, predominantly represented by Republican governors, have come out and refused to accept refugees in their states.
Their claims are as cartoonish and ill-informed as they are bigoted and disturbing. “There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror,” Cruz told reporters, continuing by offering the idea that the United States should have a religion test to allow Christians into the country and reject the rest. Without even bringing to light what the victims of Timothy McVeigh, Anders Breivik, and the IRA would think about his woefully historically inaccurate comments, it’s hard not to compare this line of thinking to that of the National Socialist Party’s attitude towards Jews.
Cruz and his far right colleagues who unfairly make up a disproportionately public section of the Republican party have leaned on what they claim to be deep Christian sentiment in all their thinking, and it makes one beg the question – should religious devotion in a world leader be seen as a virtue or a red flag? Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas and a man who runs his very campaign on the basis of his Christian values, not only wants to ban all visas from countries that even contain a sliver of ISIS presence, but has actually gone on record comparing pre-existing medical conditions to a “burnt down house,” and that we should insure them the same way. Christianity, and most respectable religions, for that matter, are grounded in the basic ideal of the golden rule – to treat others as we would like to be treated. It’s terrifying that these men in power, and men that could be put in power, are so blind to their own hypocrisy.
Historically, while religion does motivate an excessive amount of violence and terror, there’s no real correlation or pattern that would imply that one branch of theology is particularly worse than the other. Christians, Muslims, Hindu, Atheist – there’s no real difference. The Middle East is a turbulent, violent area full of Muslims – and it’s a turbulent, violent area because of the rampant poverty and relative primitive status of its nations, not because it happens to harbor Islam. The reality is that Islam is fundamentally no different from any other world religion in its root devotion to peace and understanding.
ISIS is indeed an organization as brutal as we’ve seen in the modern era, and they’re very effective in showing us just how brutal they are – make a quick Google search if you don’t feel like sleeping tonight. However, refugees from Syria are exactly that – men, women, children trying to escape barbarism and terror at the hands of that organization. They are a self-proclaimed nation, under which women have no rights, men are subject to death and dismemberment, and children are used to harvest blood transfusions for their soldiers. Yes, the attacks in Paris were an atrocity, and truly terrifying – but it’s what these people deal with every day. There are men in this country who claim devout Christianity and yet go directly against the Gospels; nowhere in the Bible does it advocate telling a starving man or woman that “you are not our problem.” Accept them, and give them a chance – no matter your belief, we are all humans.