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Shibboleth: Why Extreme Vetting and In-Region Safe Zones Can be the Christian Response to Refugees


Matthew Clark

January 27, 2017

6 min read

National Security



We are at war. It is not a war we chose. Radical Islamic jihadists chose the war. They chose the targets – Christians, Americans, and freedom.

As ISIS (the Islamic State) and other Islamic jihadists wage genocide against Christians and other religious minorities and plot and execute horrific terrorist attacks across the world, what should our response be as a nation?

Our response as Americans and Christians should be both to care for the victims of this horrific genocide and protect the innocent citizens of our country.

Fourteen months ago – in the fall of 2015 – we set forward five key policies to do just that – to care for those facing genocide and protect America. This week it was revealed that President Trump has draft Executive orders circulating that would nearly identically implement this plan.

Here is what we proposed (you can read the ACLJ’s full proposal here):

  1. America must first and foremost defend our homeland: “This is best for the United States, best for its citizens, and best for refugees fleeing the chaos of their homelands.”
  2. The U.S. – as “a shining city on the hill and a beacon of freedom for all the world” – must come to the aid of those facing jihadist genocide.
  3. ISIS arose from America’s foreign leadership failures over the past eight years. “We must destroy ISIS once and for all to provide a sustainable and lasting solution for the approximately 10 million refugees who have been displaced.”
  4. ISIS has called for the infiltration of refugee programs and has successfully inflicted mass terror attacks through this infiltration. There should be “a moratorium on the admittance of all refugees from Syria to the United States until the American people can be assured that the federal government has implemented an extensive and reliable vetting process to establish the identity and associations of those persons who are admitted to our country so that no radical Islamic jihadists may enter camouflaged as ‘refugees.’” This is extreme vetting.
  5. The U.S. should lead in the creation of in-region safe zones to protect those who are fleeing the genocide right there in their own homeland.

Recognizing the situation we face, President Trump’s draft Executive order is based around a pause in refugees until we can ensure the enemy is not coming here, extreme vetting, and in-region safe zones.

Yet two major myths have arisen. Unfortunately some in the Christian community have been led to believe that in-region safe zones and extreme vetting are somehow not a Christian response to refugees.

Myth 1: The only Christian response to mass genocide is the mass importation of refugees into America.

The reality is this just isn’t true. In-region safe zones is actually the most compassionate way to care for the most people, the quickest, when dealing with a refugee crisis such as is seen in the Middle East today.

There is no way to import millions upon millions of Christians and other religious minorities fleeing ISIS genocide. Our refugee program could not even come close to helping the number of people who need assistance.

However, America’s leadership, funding, and protection could allow for the establishment of safe zones for Christians and other religious minority victims of genocide right there in their own homeland.  The refugees themselves do not want to be uprooted from their way of life and thrust into a different culture.  It is more humane, more compassionate, and more workable to take care of them, protect them, and shelter them right there in their own homeland, allowing them to quickly and easily return to their own homes and way of life as soon as the crisis has been ended and ISIS has been soundly defeated.  In fact, it could help far more people far more quickly, as President Trump’s draft order sets a 90-day deadline to begin implementation.

Myth 2: Christians must support immediate and unrestricted refugee programs.

While scripture clearly supports caring for the victims of genocide and taking in refugees, it does not require the blind acceptance of all comers.  Letting the wolves in with the sheep is clearly not a Christian principle.

Take for example this passage from Judges 12. Israel was at war. It was difficult to easily ascertain who the enemy was and who should be allowed in.  Israel’s leader at the time, Jephthah, devised a solution:

[W]henever a survivor of Ephraim said, “Let me cross over,” the men of Gilead asked him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he replied, “No,” they said, “All right, say ‘Shibboleth.’” If he said, “Sibboleth,” because he could not pronounce the word correctly [due to the dialect they spoke], they seized him and killed him at the fords of the Jordan.

This was a form of extreme vetting. You take regimented steps to ensure that the enemy does not come in with the refugees – that the wolf doesn’t come in with the sheep.

That is what is being advocated here. Take steps to ensure that those who are claiming to be refugees are in fact fleeing ISIS and not ISIS trying to infiltrate America.  Thus pause the refugee program until we can actually vet those coming into our country and then renew the refugee program, protecting the innocent and keeping out the evil.

This has been our proposal from the beginning.  And it appears that President Trump and his team are listening. We remain hopeful that this proposal will be signed by the President in the coming days and can be implemented quickly.

UPDATE 02.01.2017: While there has been much confusion about President Trump’s Executive order instituting a pause in our refugee program in order to ensure improved vetting and keep America safe, we have outlined what the order does and doesn’t do here. Second, while it was not included in this particular order, we remain hopeful that President Trump will implement the second part of our refugee plan, establishing and leading safe zones in the region to protect the millions of refugees fleeing genocidal jihadists. We are encouraged by the fact that President Trump has since secured the support of the King of Saudi Arabia for in-region safe zones.

This article is crossposted at RedState.com.

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