FALLS CHURCH, Va.—The Baptist World Alliance criticized the United States for a presidential executive order indefinitely suspending refugee resettlement from Syria and temporarily banning travel from seven Muslim-majority nations.
The BWA—a global organization with 235 member groups in 122 nations—released a statement that reaffirmed its “biblical stance concerning refugees, vulnerable people who are oftentimes victimized for their faith.”
The statement cited a resolution the BWA General Council approved last July, calling on Christians to minister to refugees, citing biblical admonitions to welcome “the stranger” and to love one’s neighbor, as well as resolutions passed in 2011 and 2013.
On Feb. 3, Judge James Robart of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington suspended key parts of President Donald Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order. The Trump Administration subsequently challenged that ruling before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Even so, the BWA asserted, “these actions are already having a negative impact on the lives of families.”
The executive order has “adversely affected service providers who work directly with refugees and has created unexpected difficulties for Baptist institutions in the United States, such as universities and seminaries, with students enrolled from the seven named countries,” the BWA stated.
On Feb. 6, some graduate students in Baylor University’s religion department began circulating a petition asking that the Baptist school in Waco be declared a sanctuary campus for refugees, immigrants and international visitors.
“While the BWA recognizes that a government has a right to create and maintain conditions that provide for the safety of its citizens, there is a temptation to give in to fear and to hastily pursue misguided policies that will have deleterious long-term effects and that undermine freedom of religion,” the alliance stated.
“We accept this is not a situation that has emerged quickly and is in part a response to longstanding problems in these seven countries. We decry unjust actions that are too often left unaddressed and conditions that are allowed to deteriorate.”
The BWA statement commended Baptists in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Germany, Sweden, Croatia, Serbia and elsewhere “who have embodied the biblical mandate to stand with the vulnerable and to extend Christian hospitality” and added support for “Baptists in the United States who offer welcome and provide assistance.”