David Rayahin is a second year student in the Religious Studies Program at Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts. He is also a participant of our Digital Disciples Program.
“Cut off terrorism from our countries and end the flow of arms. Send your warships back to your ports! We are not protected by the vessels of arms or by immigration. We are kept through working out peace in our land. We are rooted in this land for more than two-thousand years. Here we were born! Here we live! Here we will die!” – Patriarch JOHN X of Antioch
If you have any form of social media, you will have seen the following two opinions proliferate during the aftermath of the barbaric attacks in Beirut and Paris:
“We can’t let them into our country because they’re Muslims and they want to kill us, just look at Paris.”
“If you turn away any refugees, you’re like those who didn’t help the Jews during WWII.”
There is no question that as Orthodox Christians we have a moral responsibility to help any person who is in need. Our Church and the Gospel messages tell us very clearly that it is our earthly obligation to serve God by serving our brothers and sisters. We curse and turn away these refugees who are fleeing the evils of radical Islam. The Internet is filled with ignorant and disrespectful comments from ‘Christians’ about Islam, claiming Islam and ISIS are a single entity and that no Muslims should be allowed into western nations. These so-called Christians, who berate Islam, have forgotten that for thousands of years, their Middle-Eastern brothers and sisters lived in harmony with these same Muslims. I had to log off Facebook a few days ago, when I saw a majority of my Orthodox friends on the social network very vocally reject refugees, with one friend referring to Muslim refugees as, “terrorist scum.”
Do not get me wrong: I do not support Islam, the Islamization of Arabic culture or fanaticism of any kind. What I do support is allowing distraught, hungry, frail and tired refugees into the United States without any discrimination on the basis of religion or ethnicity. Have we suffered amnesia? Did we forget that our own country funded, armed and housed these terrorists? It’s time we step up and address the consequences of our politicians.
One of my Facebook friends actually made an astute point, how do we distinguish what a state should be required to do from what a person is required to do. The state must maintain a semblance of foresight whereas the individual should be pragmatic. The state must calculate the risks involved with their actions and the consequences which will result from them in the long-term, however, the individual should be much more concerned with the events of the moment.
Finally, this is certainly an issue that has consequences for each of us whether short or long-term and it’s an issue that deserves the necessary coverage, however, it’s imperative to remember the words of Christ in Matthew 25:41-45,
“Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’”
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