Top Evangelicals Denounce Refugee Ban in Full-Page WaPo Ad

on February 8, 2017

In a new full-page advertisement in Wednesday’s edition of The Washington Post, over 100 prominent Evangelical leaders—many theologically conservative— are denouncing President Donald Trump’s moratorium on refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries entering the United States. Although a federal judge has temporarily blocked the president’s executive order, the proposed changes to America’s refugee policies expose divisions within evangelicalism, with some leaders anxious over national security and others a lack of compassion.

The main force behind the advertisement appears to be World Relief, the Christian aid agency associated with the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). The compassionate aims of the advertisement are commendable, but not all Evangelicals agree with its organizers’ approach to aiding refugees.

Daniel Burke, CNN’s religion editor, notes evangelical pastors and authors among the ad’s signatories include Pastor Timothy Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, Christian author Ann Voskamp, Bill and Lynne Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church, preacher and author Max Lucado, Pastor Eugene Cho of Quest Church and Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals.

The format of the advertisement is an open letter addressed to President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. In response to the refugee ban, the Evangelical signatories are “deeply concerned by the recently announced moratorium on refugee resettlement” whose protest to the refugee ban “is rooted in the call of Jesus to ‘love our neighbor as we love ourselves.’”

“As Christians, we have a historic call expressed over two thousand years, to serve the suffering. We cannot abandon this call now. We live in a dangerous world and affirm the crucial role of government in protecting us from harm and in setting the terms on refugee admissions. However, compassion and security can coexist, as they have for decades,” states the advertisement.

Missing from the advertisement, however, are aspirations to address the core reasons why so many refugees are seeking safe haven in the U.S. “For years, numerous organizations including the one I work for have been advocating for safe havens where ethnic and religious minorities would be safe from the ongoing sectarian wars,” wrote Luke Moon, Deputy Director of the Philos Project, a Christian non-profit promoting positive Christian engagement in the Middle East.

“True love and compassion… drives my belief that the U.S. should help to end the conflicts that caused the refugee crisis in the first place,” Moon says. “Truly loving refugees means defending them where they are. Not using them as political pawns.”

Thankfully, the Persecuted Church and other religious minorities coming from the seven predominately Muslim nations are acknowledged by the advertisement. “As leaders, we welcome the concern expressed for religious minorities, including persecuted Christians. Followers of Christ face horrific persecution and even genocide in certain parts of the world,” says the advertisement. However, a similar full-page advertisement in The Washington Post and organized by World Relief denouncing the State Department’s exclusion of Christian refugees during the height of ISIS’ religious genocide would have been equally commendable.

In 2015 Faith McDonnell, Religious Liberty Director for the Institute on Religion & Democracy, was among the few who reported the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) admitted outright to officials at the Barnabas Fund, a Christian relief agency, “There is no way that Christians will be supported because of their religious affiliation.”

As Christians, we talk often of our transparency and authenticity. I don’t doubt the sincerity of these Evangelical leaders and signatories, but am cautious of the temptation to protest the plight of refugees when politically popular.

The advertisement is set to run in The Washington Post, but is currently accessible on World Relief’s website where supporters are able to sign their names in protest of the refugee ban. At the time of this writing, the advertisement has 1,049 signatories.

  1. Comment by Nutstuyu on February 8, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    As usual, where were these “evangelicals” when Obama issued similar bans at least a DOZEN times? Also, they might want to try reading 8 USC 1182(f). The point of the USA is that the church is not the government and the government isn’t the church. And just how many refugees is Mr. Hybels hosting in his South Barrington mansion?

    Might also want to reread the description of Christ’s own city:
    “It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates…” Rev. 21:12

  2. Comment by John Marienau Turpin on February 8, 2017 at 5:15 pm

    Guys, you can do better than this. Assess the leaders’ call based on Scripture and the merits of their argument, not on the thousands of things that won’t fit into one statement. A broader treatment from World Relief is available through their book, Seeking Refuge: On the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis.

  3. Comment by Dan on February 8, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    I can’t comment on the details of World Relief’s finances, but these refugee resettlement agencies make quite a tidy sum from the government resettling refugees. As always, if you want to know the truth of a situation – follow the money.

  4. Comment by 0pus on February 8, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    The difference between “mainline” and “evangelical” is pretty much gone. So sad.

  5. Comment by Roger on February 8, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    How can a sheriff do his duty without handcuffs? Did not Jesus say if you didn’t have a sword, sell your cloak to buy one. Did not Peter and company have a sword to protect Jesus, as Peter cut off the ear of one of the Priest’s guards? If a Temporary Ban is going to create such a problem, who is to blame when a terrorist acts out because no vetting was done before he or she entered the Country. With this lax attitude, one needs to defend themselves in many ways, physically, mentally, Religiously, and against all the civil authorities that would allow anyone into the Country.

  6. Comment by MarcoPolo on February 16, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    You’ll still be able to defend yourself from the likely offender, but it’s NOT likely to be a Refugee that offends you.

  7. Comment by Tom on February 9, 2017 at 10:25 am

    acts 17:26

    From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.

    these ‘evangelical leaders’ are going the way of ‘mainstream protestant leaders’….empty churches and unemployment

  8. Comment by apriluser on February 10, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    I totally agree with the idea of solving the refugee problems of their homeland to avoid being resettled in an unfamiliar culture, unfamiliar language, and unfamiliar customs. If it were me, I’d rather stay in my own country and home then be resettled elsewhere. Let’s pray for peace in their homeland and for wisdom fir our leaders in moving us all to that end.

  9. Comment by Joan Watson on February 11, 2017 at 10:22 am

    I am sad and disappointed that these leaders–some of whom I am familiar with and have great respect for—view this as the be all to end all issue. The only thing unreasonable about the temporary suspension of immigration from areas at high risk for terrorists is the hysteria it has generated. Time and time again, I keep reading the only reason there is a refugee crisis is because of Obama’s inability to take decisive action to squash ISIS–where were all these protests at that point in time?

  10. Comment by MarcoPolo on February 16, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    Of ALL the seven countries included in the Travel Ban, there have been a total of ZERO individuals, who have been suspected, much less convicted of having committed ANY crime!

    Way to show your Christian compassion, Joan Watson.

  11. Comment by Brett Stevenson on February 16, 2017 at 7:11 pm

    Perhaps the attack on the US ship in Yemen does not rate in your zero MarcoPolo.
    The fact that these countries are either active in supporting and encouraging terrorists, or provide the fertile ground for their development (for various reasons) does not rate a mention with you either.
    Christians surely cannot afford to be naive to the realities of sin, however that shows its face. And terrorism, especially of the radical Islamic kind is something we need to guard against.
    What is often confusing is that the terms refugees and economic migrants can be merged into the former. We all can have sympathy and are willing to accept genuine refugees but again we cannot be naive to the use of the refugee conventions to allow in economic migrants and potential terrorists under the guise of refugee. It has been reported that the vast majority (up near the 80% level) of the ‘refugee’ intake into Europe in 2016 were actually economic migrants not refugees.

  12. Comment by MarcoPolo on February 17, 2017 at 7:50 am

    The attack on the US ship in Yemen is a valid acknowledgment for the sake of identifying the perpetrator of that particular incident. But should that lone event warrant such drastic measures from the US President? I don’t think so.

    Former President George W. Bush was correctly on point when in his 2005 State of the Union address distinguished between Immigrants who were seeking better employment opportunities by coming to our country, versus any who were coming here for Terrorist activity. Did you notice how HE never once fanned the flames of paranoia regarding the latter? I wonder why?

    It’s just my opinion, that our current President is operating from an entirely draconian point of view, and his tactics thus far have had too little intelligence, and too much testosterone to be effective, and/or judicious.

  13. Comment by robertthomason on February 16, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    Marco, my brother, what about Abdul Razak Ali Artan, a refugee from Somalia who drove his car into a crowd of pedestrians at Ohio State and attacked students with a butcher knife last November?

  14. Comment by MarcoPolo on February 17, 2017 at 7:52 am

    Okay, that’s ONE!
    So maybe we should “shut down” ALL!
    That is NOT a prudent, or practical measure!

  15. Comment by robertthomason on February 17, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    Marco there’s more than one. My point is the federal judge who put out the information you relied on is wrong. I think that should give those like you who oppose this temporary measure pause to seek more credible sources than federal judges who are using their own opinions rather than the law to make a decision. Justice Robert Jackson wrote for the Supreme Court in a 1948 case regarding immigration matters. The US Congress codified the decision in 1952. It’s the same statute that this President and other Presidents have used to implement immigration policy. We just need to put in place measures that allow people to come to our country who come with open hearts and open minds. We need to know who they are and what is their background. Will it prevent situations like Ohio State? No, probably not, but we need to proceed in an orderly fashion where we vet those seeking admission.

  16. Comment by MarcoPolo on February 18, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    I don’t disagree with you at all regarding accepting only those who come with open hearts and minds.
    But how does one qualify that intent in the vetting process?

    Perhaps I (and millions of others) have not found reason to justify the apparent fear of rampant intrusion that folks like yourself think exists at our borders?

    I realize there are significant differences between Refugees and Immigrants, so let’s not conflate the problems when dealing with legitimate instances.
    I think Trump’s Man was too broad and vague to pass Constitutional muster. Let alone impetuous action that resulted in unnecessary cruelty.

  17. Comment by robertthomason on February 19, 2017 at 11:07 am

    I don’t fear immigration or legal immigrates. I fear letting people into our country who come here with the intent to kill people in night clubs because of their sexual orientation. You and I can find a common ground to let folks in who respect our values and our system. I understand your point about the executive order, but I would say that Justice Robert Jackson and the Supreme Court would differ. Qualifying the open minds and open hearts intent is a matter for much debate but ignoring the vetting process because it’s hard to do seems to me to be opening us up to more death and violence at the hands of those who came here just to commit such acts. Did you consider the actions of Carter and Obama in regards to blocking or removing immigrants also unnecessary cruelty?

  18. Comment by Allen LeMaster on February 16, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    President Trump was acting within the law. Rather than gripe, complain and shed crocodile tears over those who would willingly destroy us given half a chance, Look up McCarran-Walter Act. Inacted under the Truman administration just for purposes with which we’re confronted. And don’t go twisting what Jesus would do! Jesus had a temper and used it on occasions of wrongdoing, remember the moneychangers in the Temple? Jesus was not a wimp as many make Him out to be. He doesn’t expect you to swallow everything crammed down your throat.

  19. Comment by Ted R. Weiland on February 16, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    Biblically, border and immigration policy begins with the First Commandment and its respective statutes and judgments, which, in turn, demands immigrants and visitors leave all gods not Yahweh and all laws not his at the border. No Muslim, for example, would ever agree to such a law and would look to immigrate somewhere else to do his dirty work, which includes proselytizing our posterity to their false god.

    CLUE: There were no openly practicing Muslims, no Mosques, no Sharia, and no Islamic terrorism in 17th-century Colonial America whose governments of, by, and for God were established upon Yahweh’s moral law, beginning with the First Commandment:

    “…When the 18th-century founders replaced the First Commandment (found intact in some 17th-century Colonial Constitutions) with the First Amendment, America was transformed from a predominantly monotheistic Christian nation (a united nation under one God, Yahweh) into arguably the most polytheistic nation to exist (a divided nation under many gods, including Islam’s Allah).

    “It’s one thing to allow for individual freedom of conscience and private choice of gods, something impossible to legislate for or against. It’s another matter altogether for government to enable any and all religions to proliferate through the land and evangelize our posterity to false gods. This is what the First Amendment legitimizes. It is an unequivocal violation of the First Commandment and the polar opposite of the following First Commandment statute:

    ‘[Y]e shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves. For thou shall worship no other god: for Yahweh, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Lest thou … go a whoring after their gods….’ (Exodus 34:13-15)….”

    For more, see blog article “National Religious Freedom Day aka Celebrating the Founders’ Violation of the First Commandment” at

    See also online Chapter 11 “Amendment 1: Government-Sanctioned Polytheism” of “Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective” at

  20. Comment by Joseph O'Neill on February 26, 2017 at 1:25 am

    Palestinian refugees need our support too.

    Trump has done us all a great serivce in honsetly showing the ugly real face of US islamophobia, previously hidden by his smooth-talking hypocritical predecessor, Obama.

    9/11 was caused by the US support of the apartheid Israeli regime’s genocide of Christian and Muslim Palestinians.

    Time to make amends to Palestine.

  21. Comment by Dr. Daniel Mercaldo on February 27, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    Chelsen, thanks for picking up on what I have confronted NAE, WEA and CT with regarding their silence while Pres. Obama did even more than Pres. Trump has done regarding deportment of illegal immigrants. I also reminded them that, when only 1% of the refugees allowed by the Obama Administration were Christians (that’s the figure I understand it to be) why they did not add their voice, newspaper ads, and challenge to that administration. I really believe there is a evangelical elite and establishment that has lost contact with the 87% of evangelicals who voted for and now support President Trump. Thanks for you insight. I hope they read it.

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