Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
America, you may have learned in school, is a nation “under God,” with liberty and justice for all.
It’s the America I swore allegiance to that day in Tampa, Florida, 30 years ago, when I became a citizen of these United States.
But is that really America today?
Now, more than ever, God’s name is being invoked in politics. The claim of being a Christian – a “born again” Christian – is being used to win votes.
Yet these “Christian” politicians are fiercely trying to bar America’s door to the wretched fugitives of war-torn Syria.
The way I understand it, these words from Jesus are at the heart of the Christian concept of salvation:
For I was hungry, and you gave me food. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in.
You would think born-again Christians, above all others, would welcome the opportunity to provide a safe haven for the desperate souls fleeing the flames of a vicious civil war.
But the Bible-thumping Republicans running for US President – and Republican governors across the country – are unanimous in their rejection of the refugees.
I understand that Germany is welcoming nearly a hundred thousand. Sweden has signed up for more than 64,000. Hungary is taking nearly 20,000, tiny Denmark more than 10,000.
The UK is taking 7,000. Even France, reeling from the weekend’s terror attack, is reportedly accepting 6,700.
And other European countries are doing their best to cope with the massive influx of strangers thronging their borders.
Canada is taking 10,000, Australia 12,000.
Jordan, which is not a “Christian” nation, has opened its borders to the refugees. So has Egypt. So has Turkey. The United Arab Emirates are absorbing a quarter of a million.
Yes, giving succor to the desperate is a Muslim precept, too.
Yet “evangelicals” like Ben Carson are protesting against President Obama’s plan to take 10,000 Syrians. Ten thousand – in a nation of more than 300 million people!
Their excuse? The tattered, hungry families streaming out of Syria might include terrorists intent on harming Americans.
Only a fool would not be vigilant in accepting refugees from Syria. But I understand the refugees destined for America have been thoroughly screened. And sensible arrangements are in place for their resettlement once they get here.
The blanket rejection of all Muslims because of the barbaric behavior of a few is not what the world expects of America.
Not as long as Lady Liberty raises her torch over New York Harbor and Americans swear allegiance to “one nation under God.”