We are broken with grief at the senseless loss of life in Paris, as well as the deaths in Beirut, Egypt and across the Middle East – all at the hands of brutal terrorists. These actions of ISIS are the embodiment of evil, carried out by champions of death and cruelty. They are intended to cultivate fear and mistrust in our very midst.
We live in a world where there is so little time allowed for grief. Even as we mourn, and leaders of the world’s nations commit to bringing the perpetrators to justice, we cannot forget the new victims of ISIS, suffering under an onslaught of terror today, tomorrow and the day after.
Every day, average Syrian people, including Christians persecuted for their faith, are being tortured and murdered, bombed and traumatized. An open field, a perilous journey, separation from family, a rickety boat, a refugee camp – are their only hope for safety. And for the most vulnerable, a relatively small number, who have no chance of ever being able to go home in safety – starting life anew in a strange land is the only possibility other than death.
The protection that the United States offers to a very small percentage of the world’s refugees must not be foreclosed for Syrians who themselves are fleeing the terror of ISIS. The US refugee program has, since 9/11, built up rigorous and multilayered security screenings to ensure that those we admit as refugees do not mean us harm. To close the door on resettling Syrian refugees would be nothing less than signing a death warrant for tens of thousands of families fleeing for their very lives.
As Christians, as Americans, and as global citizens – we must choose to stand for hope and life. We must not bow to the fear that ISIS spreads, to the seeds of doubt they cast over the land, or to the test they present to our most cherished values.
We are a nation and people that stand up to those who slaughter innocents. We stand with the most vulnerable who seek safety and a future. And we stand for welcome.
Yours in faith,
Linda Hartke President and CEO Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service