WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 30, 2017—Russell Moore, president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote a letter to President Donald Trump, calling for security of U.S. citizens, the commitment to uphold religious freedom and compassion for the sojourner as it relates to the executive order entitled, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.”
In the letter, Moore wrote:
“The church’s commitment to welcoming the stranger has long been reflected in our country’s policies toward those fleeing persecution in their home countries. As Southern Baptists, we believe the role of government is first and foremost to protect its people from harm.
“As a nation, we must seek to resolve the tension created by these two values—compassion for the sojourner and the security of our citizens—in a way that upholds both values. While we know refugees are already the most vetted category of immigrants to the United States, the FBI and others raised legitimate questions about the sufficiency of these procedures. It is crucial these questions be resolved. As a result, we are sympathetic to the desire to strengthen our nation’s security processes.
“Southern Baptists are among the many Americans living in majority-Muslim countries to carry out the biblical call to love their neighbors. We are deeply concerned that the order will cause widespread diplomatic fallout with the Muslim world, putting Southern Baptists serving in these countries in grave danger and preventing them from serving refugees and others who are in need with humanitarian assistance and the love of the gospel.
“Achieving the right balance between compassion toward refugees—one of the most vulnerable groups of people among us—and protection of Americans is crucial if the United States is to remain a model for freedom around the world. It is one thing to debate whether the vetting process is adequate. It is quite another to seek to potentially turn our backs on Syrian refugees permanently.”
In the letter, Moore called upon the Trump administration to do the following:
1. Clarify, through a rigorous interagency review and coordination, the extent of the Executive Order to resolve the status of green card holders, Iraqi military interpreters, and other ambiguities;
2. Implement additional screening measures in order that the Refugee Admission Program may be resumed as soon as possible, including for refugees from Syria;
3. Work to ensure the safety of Americans serving in majority-Muslim countries and to preserve their ability to continue serving the “least of these” in the region; and
4. Affirm your administration’s commitment to religious freedom and the inalienable human dignity of persecuted people whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Yazidi, or other, and adjust the Executive Order as necessary.
The letter was also delivered to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). The full text of the letter can be accessed online here.
The Southern Baptist Convention is America’s largest Protestant denomination with more than 15.2 million members in over 46,000 churches nationwide. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is the SBC’s ethics, religious liberty and public policy agency with offices in Nashville, Tenn., and Washington, D.C.