PRO-Life When It's THEIR-Life
On the surface, it's a noble position: to passionately champion 'life'. Moving beyond the abortion debate, I hope that it isn't too controversial of an observation that a good deal of life happens after we are born. So I would have to conclude that being 'pro-life' describes someone that cares about the rest of the story that follows once the ink has dried on the birth certificate. And indeed for most American evangelicals, there is a strong commitment to this, only it turns out that there is a priority list and that the number one criteria for those at the top is that they don the title 'Christian'.
'Open doors'...for some
Now I'm not so jaded that I can't take some measure of joy in witnessing the reuniting of loved ones. But when I heard about the release of three Americans who had been imprisoned in North Korea, I was pissed. As I watched the news, it didn't take long to realize that these three individuals fit the previously mentioned criteria for those worthy enough to go to the front of the 'right-to-life' line. In fact, they had something else that made them immanently worthy of the full diplomatic force of the President of the United States: they weren't just 'Christians', they were 'persecuted Christians'!
And who was whispering in the President's ear to remind him of his solemn duty to remember the plight of these high-priority human beings? Well it was the evangelical Christians who helped get him elected, this time in the form of the organization, Open Doors. Their tag line is, "Serving persecuted Christians worldwide." Note how the word 'Christian' is in bold. I mean, damn! Why not italicize it, underline it, highlight it, and circle it with a red pen just to make sure that anyone else our there on the planet who is persecuted but who isn't a Christian knows that this organization is NOT for them.
Prior to their release, Open Doors USA President, David Curry, specifically advocated for the three men saying, “We simply cannot afford to let these Americans stay another day on North Korean soil, or we risk more unfortunate outcomes like what occurred to American student Otto Warmbier.” Otto, another American who was detained in North Korea, was released in a mysterious coma-like condition in June of 2017, dying a week after he returned to the States.
Now I'm sure someone from the organization would point out that Curry only qualified these individuals as "Americans", but I think we are all wise to this evangelical game by now. So let's move past that and focus on the real thrust of his apparent concern, that the actual survival of these men was at stake unless they were freed and returned to America. That's great Mr. Curry! You care about people oversees in desperate situations where it appears that their last recourse is to come to the U.S.? Me to! So let's talk about Muslim refugees from Syria.
"this is about humanity."
After the most recent round of chemical attacks unleashed by the Assad regime on their own people, President Trump, apparently moved yet again by the images of children choking on weaponized toxic fumes, declared that, "This is about humanity." So whatever his eventual response was, it would be motivated by a fundamental value for all human life. Of course his only solution was to drop more bombs on the country. One would have thought that by now he had been thoroughly briefed on the reality that Syrians will continue to suffer and die on a massive scale and that part of the Administration's diplomatic and humanitarian response must be the resettlement of refugees around the globe, with the U.S. leading in this effort. But of course this would fly right in the face of his xenophobic rhetoric that resonated so strongly with his most loyal voting block, white evangelicals.
So what is the result? As of end of April in this current Federal fiscal year, which started last October, the U.S has received forty-four Syrian refugees. Of those forty-four, only twenty-seven are Muslim, though the vast majority of Syrian refugees are of that faith. According to an article in The Dallas Morning News from this past February,
In the first four months of the fiscal year, there has been a 94 percent decline in the number of Muslims resettled into the U.S. as refugees, according to State Department data. In January of 2017, as Trump was coming in, Muslim refugees made up nearly 1 out of 2 refugees arriving in the U.S. A year later, that ratio has become 1 in 10.
Now to be fair, a small handful of evangelical leaders have notably raised their voices for even Muslim refugees, though as I pointed out in my previous article, Where is the Letter to the Church?, they will do so very carefully and mostly not directed at the one group that needs to hear from them the most--that being the evangelical church. Meanwhile hundreds if not thousands of Muslim refugees from Syrian and other countries will continue to die in camps or drown in the Mediteranian. But hey, that's o.k. for American evangelicals. They got their guys out of North Korea.