The Evangelical Immigration Table, a George Soros-financed group of far left activists and Evangelical leaders, released a six-point appeal today calling on Congress to bring even more Syrian and other refugees to the U.S.
The letter was introduced to journalists at a conference call organized by Jenny Yang, vice president of advocacy and policy for World Relief Corporation, one of the five Christian non-profit “voluntary agencies” [VOLAGs] receiving massive payments from the federal government to resettle refugees. Four secular non-profit VOLAGs also receive large payments as part of the $1 billion annual refugee resettlement budget.
In the letter to Congress, the EIT outlined six specific policy proposals it wants to see established or confirmed as law:
Reject damaging changes to the U.S. refugee resettlement system that would cause this life-saving program to grind to a halt… Do not exclude any religion or nationality from the U.S. refugee resettlement program… Increase the resettlement of Christian refugees.. Do not neglect other vulnerable refugee groups… Address root causes of the conflict so more refugees do not have to flee.. Work with governors and local communities to welcome refugees.
In addition to World Relief’s Yang, Evangelical “leaders” participating in the conference call included Barrett Duke, representing the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Galen Carey, vice president of government relations for the National Association of Evangelicals, Ali Chambers, lead pastor of the Mosaic Church in Memphis, Tennessee, Tyler Johnson, lead pastor of Redemption Church Arizona, Chris McElwee, local impact pastor of Wheaton Bible Church, West Chicago, Illinois, and Mike Phillips, senior pastor for Immanuel Fellowship in Frisco, Colorado.
The group advocated strongly for the passage of the pro-Amnesty “Gang of 8” bill in 2013, and has since joined forces with the Christian charities that receive massive payments from the federal government to resettle refugees. As Breitbart News has reported, 100,000 refugees were brought into the U.S. in FY 2015, 40 percent of whom were Muslim.
Over the past several years, approximately 2,000 refugees from Syria have been brought in under this program. Ninety-seven percent of those refugees are Muslim. The Obama administration intends to bring another 10,000 Syrian refugees in to the United States in FY 2016. Taxpayers are expected to spend roughly $1 billion supporting each group of 10,000 mostly uneducated migrants during the next 50 years
Dan Gordon of the Immigration Forum was listed as a contact for the conference call but did not participate in the call itself.
Not all Christian leaders agree with the EIT’s proposals for continuation of the refugee resettlement program as it currently exists.
“This statement downplays security concerns about Syrian and other Mideast refugees, even though the USA capacity for fully veting this population is limited,” Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democrcacy, tells Breitbart News.
“The statement also ignores the issue of entrance to USA of persons who may not be directly violent but who support theocratic and jihadist ideology, which obviously is at odds with democratic principles. Immigration and refugee resettlement for our nation is about more than Christian hospitality,” Tooley says. “Commendably,” Tooley adds, “this statement cites mideast Christians as uniquely threatened, which many church lobbying voices have sadly neglected or minimized.”
Kelly Monroe Kullberg tells Breitbart News that the Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration, the group she organized in response to EIT, is sending a letter to Congress which says, in part:
We write to ask you to stand with Congressman Babin, and Senator Jeff Sessions, to best help vulnerable refugees remain closer to home while at the same time honoring Americans who are concerned about security and the future of our culture that our children will inherit.
In your voting, we ask that you prioritize those most vulnerable to Islamic ideology and violence, such as Christians and the reality of Christian genocide in a region losing its ancient Church heritage and hope. We ask you to engage the root problem of violent Islam and help the Church and other religious minorities where persecuted throughout the world.
Like many rank and file Evangelical Christians, Kullberg is shocked that Christian charities are accepting so much money from the federal government to bring Muslims refugees into the United States.
“Imagine the wickedness of using Christians to permanently de-Christianize America. Imagine the suffering that will follow with Sharia law or more advanced Progressive ideology. It will be a ‘fundamental transformation,’ indeed,” Kullberg tells Breitbart News.
She sees an entirely different solution to the Syrian refugee issue.
“The clear win-win is to help many more people stay closer to home, in the Middle East. This is more loving for refugees and for concerned Americans,” Kullberg tells Breitbart News.
“Jesus did not teach us to quietly take massive amounts of money from Caesar for projects that most citizens do not desire. And yet today, among some well-paid evangelicals, this is becoming common practice,” she adds.
“We would be wise to discover if the continuation of mass migration in various forms is a political project. That might seem cynical but Jesus said to keep our eyes wide open. It is no surprise that about 9 out of 10 migrants, when documented, will vote for Democrats. Their offers of “free stuff” seem real, but freedom, for the moment, seems abstract. Should we not find the truth about the well-funded use of “the faith narrative” for the Left’s end goal of a Permanent Progressive Majority (PPM) – through voting?” Kullberg asks rhetorically.
The participants on the EIT conference call, however, were on a different page than Tooley and Kullberg, and they pushed a narrative largely rejected by most Evangelical Christians.
A recent Pew Research Poll, for instance, found that white Evangelical Christians were opposed to continuing the Syrian refugee resettlement program by a 2 to 1 margin.
The EIT spokespeople, however, saw this as a sign of the ignorance and moral inferiority of Christians holding that majority viewpoint.
“Many Evangelicals, at least here in Colorado, are increasingly being bothered by the rhetoric they’re hearing from some,” Mike Phillips, senior pastor for Immanuel Fellowship in Frisco, Colorado said.
“Demeaning comments about Syrians, refugees, people in general. I think increasingly they believe it is fueling hate and fear, and it’s a message catering to a small minority. Unfortunately, they seem to get the most publicity.”
“I hear a lot of Evangelicals, leaders and others, beginning to react to this rhetoric,” Phillips added.
He claimed, contrary to statements made by the current director of the FBI, that all refugees brought to the U.S. under the resettlement program are thoroughly vetted and pose no risk to Americans.
“I realize that some are genuinely concerned about the vetting process. Personally, I’ve looked at it, I think it’s a very tight, very good process,” he said.
“Why can’t we do something more pro-active, instead of something that’s just seems to be ‘protect ourselves, protect ourselves,’” Phillips said of the overall Syrian refugee crisis.
“What I’m hearing from Evangelicals is that is a message that doesn’t resonate with us. They want to be more pro-active,” Phillips added.
At least one journalist on the call, Rachel Zoll of Associated Press, appeared eager to advance the EIT’s pro-Syrian refugee narrative. “I wanted to ask, actually, anyone who would like to answer, just what your thoughts are about how you can push through the current resistance and some of the, you noted, more sort of hateful comments about the refugees to try and get a policy change or at least keep the policy of accepting refugees?” she asked.
“It seems like it’s been, sort of, very difficult to break through some of the rhetoric about it with facts and make other voices heard,” she added.
Galen Carey, vice president of government relations for the National Association of Evangelicals, responded. “We hope that all of you who are reporters on the phone will take up the challenge to explain to the American people how our refugee resettlement program actually works. How safe it is. And why it’s in the national interest to be resettling refugees,” Carey said.
“It’s easy to scare people, and that’s what some people have been doing with their rhetoric. It takes a little more time and effort to explain what’s actually the case and why it makes sense at so many levels in terms of their values and also our security and that we should to the right thing,” he added. “So we hope that you all can help in cultivating an intelligent dialogue among the American people about this issue.” Galen concluded.
The AP’s Zoll was not finished. She launched into this description of her reporting on the Syrian refugee issue, which she followed with a question:
Basically what we’ve found, we’ve been writing a lot of stories explaining the refugee situation, what the vetting already is. I’ve written stories about how, really, across the board across the board for the most part with some minor exceptions that religious leaders have said not only is this a moral obligation, it’s a religious obligation, it’s an American obligation to accept these refugees, and sort of condemning the way that the discussion is being framed….out of fear and prejudice, et cetera, and it just feels like it’s, somehow it’s not getting through. That that message, the information isn’t really changing the tenor of the debate in any way, or it hasn’t at least so far.
“So, I’m not exactly sure, what do you do to change that, really pierce this idea that there’s some massive risk to taking these refugees in?” Zoll asked.
“It’s a hard question. Fear is a powerful emotion that drives a lot of things,” Ali Chambers, lead pastor of the Mosaic Church in of Memphis, Tennessee responded. “The rhetoric gets stirred up because we need to use that fear for political reasons.”
“We tend to neglect our own story, own history. We were once the same kind of refugees. Our families come from similar situations,” he added.
“No matter how many times you tell people, they have social media, they have other venues that are constantly kind of stirring up these fears and a lot of ignorance,” Chambers said. “My dad’s African-American, my mom is from Iran… I’m less ignorant to what these people [refugees] look like in every day life. A lot of people in America are so isolated in actually knowing someone that is an immigrant that put them all in this ISIS box,” he added.
World Relief Corporation’s Yang then dodged a direct question posed to her by a reporter from Christianity Today. The reporter noted that a recent Pew Poll shows 31 percent of white Evangelicals said bring in the refugees, while roughly 66 percent said no. “Are your people in the pews just going to say no?” the reporter asked Yang.
“I’m not familiar with that poll,” Yang claimed in response, a surprising statement for a World Relief vice president in charge of advocacy and policy. “We’ve had many conversations with pastors,” she added. “Many are upset the refugee program could grind to a halt. Many churches know these refugees, who do become self sufficient pretty quickly,” she claimed.
That claim of refugee self-sufficiency, however, has been widely debunked.
Evangelical Christians who oppose the unvetted entry of Syrian Muslim refugees to the United States have a very different perspective than the EIT speakers on the conference call.“The Bible does not teach open and undiscerning welcome, but only wise welcome,” Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration’s Kullberg tells Breitbart News.
“We are to embrace the lawful and well-meaning foreigner, who, like a convert, comes as a blessing. Elsewhere we find the building of walls to protect from harmful foreigners.” In Scripture we do not find open borders. We find wise welcome. Love is wise,” Kullberg concludes.