Should we stop all immigration of Muslims to the United States?
Franklin Graham has advocated that we should block all Muslims from immigrating to the United States because any single Muslim could become radicalized and kill Americans.
I don’t normally respond to these kinds of things. They are hard to take seriously. But over 150,000 have ‘liked’ this post on Facebook, and while that is a very small percentage of the USA it’s a substantial number in itself. Further, I thought this particular idea an object lesson on how some simple solutions are too simple for a complex problem. So, since you, my readers, may encounter this idea in your own circles, here are some reasons why it is unworkable, bad, and in my opinion unbiblical:
1. First off, he puts it in the context of World War II, when we didn’t allow Japanese or Germans to immigrate. But this is a false comparison. Islam is a religion, whereas those are nationalities. It would be easy to say ‘no’ to people of certain nationalities (by blocking passport countries). But how do you decide who is part of a religion? (If a country were to block Christians, for example, how would you go about doing it? Would you be blocked?) If missiologists have trouble with this, do you think government officials will do better?
2. One solution is to block people from Muslim majority countries: but a lot of those coming in to the United States are not Muslims at all. They are Christians seeking refuge (or atheists, or agnostics). We already filter people from certain countries.
3. Also, the wholesale blocking of people form certain countries would prevent secularized or moderate Muslims who travel abroad to get away from their governments. (A lot of secularists have fled Iran, for example.) Yes, many secularized Muslims can be radicalized–but many also meet Jesus abroad. (And, we did allow some Japanese and Germans in, of course…)
4. It won’t stop radicalization: anyone can be radicalized, not just Muslims.
5. If we blocked all Muslims from entering the country, what about the Muslims working here now under temporary visas? What about multigenerational families where some have citizenship and some don’t? What about Muslims in the United States who are permanent citizens?
6. What about the response of other nations to this action? Would all Christians be blocked from them? Would Christians be even more targeted?
7. Not to be callous to individual events, but an event where someone kills a handful of other people is ‘big’ only in that it gets media air play and sells newspapers. It’s a tragedy for those involved, but we should not make national policy over it. Vastly more people in America are killed each year by, say, tobacco, car wrecks, or abortion than by Muslim radicals.
8. Certainly most of all, it’s not Biblical. Jesus says to turn the other cheek, not cut off all contact. He commands that we love our enemies, and nowhere in 1 Corinthians 13 does it say exclude our enemies from our national borders.
9. Finally, the reason most Muslims do not come to faith is they don’t hear the Gospel. How can they hear unless someone brings it to them? 86% of all Muslims globally do not know a Christian–BUT this is a global average. In the United States the percentage is far lower. What would this do to Christian ministries to diaspora? We reach Muslims in the USA and have impact back in home countries. Are we to cut off a major way that Muslims come to faith? What judgement are we inviting on ourselves if we reduce the likelihood that Muslims will hear the good news… Are we not thus becoming evenness followers of Christ, by shirking the way of the cross and dousing our light?