Note: I first want to apologize to my liberal and libertarian friends for my responses to various comments on social media yesterday. For various reasons, I was Mr. Cranky Pants, and did not respond as well as I usually do. I hope this post is a bit more rational.
Note: For any readers that may be Muslim, liberal, or otherwise disagree with what I write, I sincerely hope my comments will not be seen as hurtful or callous. They are not intended to be. However, I will not apologize for what I say here, these are my thoughts and opinions. I strive to be measured and rational, not strident and angry. To a large degree, I think I succeed. But I ask that you not be offended by this post, but I expect that many will disagree, and that, also, is ok. You are as entitled to your thoughts, opinions, and beliefs as am I.
I am no different from the vast majority of Americans with how I have felt with the terrorist attacks in Paris. And although I haven’t posted anything new here on my Blog, I have been active on social media, and posted multiple articles, opinions, thoughts, and memes regarding the Paris atrocities. Regular readers of this blog already know I am a committed Christian, a family man, an American, a political conservative, and rather bold to state my opinions. Due to my postings, in the past couple days my Christianity and my consistency in applying my Christianity has been questioned, and my posts on the American response to the Syrian refugee situation characterized as hateful and inflammatory. I disagree with those questions and characterizations, and wanted to address them. However, I figured my remarks would take a lot more space than social media, and light bulb above my head! I have a blog site that I can write on. (Um, duh?)
Anyhow, I want to address two things here. First my Christianity, how I have come to this point, and how I interpret the Bible. And Second, my thoughts on the Syrian refugee crisis.
First, regards my faith, Christianity, and Biblical interpretation.
I believe in the God of the Bible. I believe that He created everything that exists, that He has always been, and always will be. I believe that God exists in three distinct but equal “persons:” God the Father, God the Son (Jesus, the Christ), and God the Holy Spirit. I believe that God is perfect, without error, and has been so forever, and always will be. I believe that the Bible is the inerrant, inspired, complete Word of God, and includes the Hebrew Scriptures (AKA: the “Old” Testament), as well as the “New” Testament, which introduces the Jewish Messiah, Jesus the Christ. I believe that I am separated from that perfect Creator-God because of my willful choice to commit “sin.” Sin is simply doing what I know to be wrong, in the face of a perfect God. I believe that because of God’s perfection, He cannot even be in the presence of sin, and so my cosmic treason has separated me from ever being able, on my own, to stand in God’s presence. I believe that God loved me so much that he sent His Son, Jesus (who volunteered for this mission), to earth to atone for my treason. I believe that Jesus was born of a sinful woman, Mary, with no earthly father, but was miraculously conceived by Mary, through the working of the Holy Spirit. I believe that Jesus was absolutely, completely, perfectly God and simultaneously was absolutely, completely, “perfectly” a man, as are any of us. I believe that Jesus is the only Son of God, that there is no other. I believe that Jesus literally lived, but never sinned; never lied, never coveted, never stole, never did any wrong thing that would cause separation from God the Father. I believe that he led a ministry on earth, and was ultimately arrested by the religious leaders of the time, tried by Roman law, and crucified, suffering physical death, and retaining his spirit until he decided on his own to die. I believe Jesus suffered a literal death, and was buried for (in modern understanding) for a day and a half (by reckoning of the time, three days); literally dead in a literal tomb. I believe that when Jesus decided it was time, I believe he literally came back to life; that dead human tissue was re-animated, against human possibility and human rationale. I believe that when Jesus allowed himself to be crucified, and when he chose to die and take his life back, that he paid the just and righteous penalty for my treason; that because he paid the penalty (my penalty), God is able to forgive me, and that due only to God’s grace, I can now stand in front of Him. And that He sees me, not as I was, but in light of Christ’s finished work, perfect, just as Christ is perfect. I believe that Christ came for the Jewish nation first, and that any national Jew that recognizes Jesus as Messiah automatically steps in front of me in as God’s chosen, and are ultimately my elder brothers and sisters. I believe that it is God’s grace and God’s grace alone that has earned me the right to be called His son. I believe belief in Christ in this way is the only way for anyone to find the ability to be allowed into God’s presence as a forgiven individual. I believe that Christ’s sacrifice is all that is necessary for anyone who chooses to believe and confess the above to stand before God. And I believe that if one does not specifically choose to believe this, then by that choice, that person, when they die, will never be allowed in the presence of God; that all goodness, and all hope will be removed, and that person will spend eternity in what the Bible defines as Hell.
More on the Bible:
I apply various, recognized rules to interpreting the Bible. These are not “my” rules, but are a standardized method for Biblical interpretation. First, it says what it says. There is no hidden meaning, no “deeper truths,” no Gnostic gospel to apply. Second the Bible is inerrant, inspired, accurate and complete as it currently exists. Third, context and historical considerations must also be considered for a particular verse, and that each verse must be interpreted, not on its own, but in accord with the Bible as a whole. Far too many people look at one verse and say, “Well, the Bible says (fill in the blank).” And this happens with folks that believe the Bible as well as those that do not. One of my favorite examples is the one verse in the Bible that mentions tattoos. Found in Deuteronomy, it says that one should not get tattoos or marks for the dead. Many Christians use this to condemn anyone that gets a tattoo as unbiblical. That is far from the truth. That verse is speaking directly to the pagan practice of slicing one’s self and/or tattooing themselves specifically for ancestor worship or appeasement. As such, it is addressing idolatry during a specific historical timeframe, not tattooing at any time forever and ever, amen. But I digress.
I would also say that in reading and understanding the Bible, the way to do so is no different than reading any “classical” piece of literature. One doesn’t have to be a Biblical scholar, nor does one have to believe the Bible to read it as it is intended to be read. One should read it in the same way that one should read Melville’s “Moby Dick,” Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” Homer’s “Iliad” or “Odyssey,” or anything by Shakespeare.
So that defines my Christianity, and how I interpret the Bible. Next I want to expound (something some would say I do all too well) on the current situation involving the recent Paris terrorist attacks and the refugees from Syria.
I must first provide a further caveat. Politically, I am conservative, which means that I do not identify as a Republican first, since I believe that the Republican party has strayed from its conservative roots. I have been conservative since my youth, and it is my contention that conservatism works every time it is tried. As a conservative, I believe that Ronald Reagan, although not perfect, was the best president in my lifetime. I believe that George Bush “41” was more moderate than conservative, and George Bush “43” was more “Neocon” than conservative, but I support most of the actions taken by him during his presidency. I further think that from Carter to Obama, each successive Democrat president was worse than the previous one, and that Obama is the worst president in my lifetime. A further note on Obama. It seems popular to tag those that oppose him as racist, and that opposition is due to his race. Nothing could be farther from the truth for me. I vehemently disagree with his politics, just as I do other far left liberals, such as Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Joe Biden, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Bill Maher, Barbra Streisand, Michael Moore, and on and on. I disagree with their politics, and I think their politics are dishonest and bad for the country. Which is a nice segue into the Paris attacks and the Syrian situation.
The facts: Just a few short days ago, several terrorists, in a coordinated attack, murdered upwards of 140 civilians in Paris. Just a few hours later, the radical Islamic group ISIS claimed responsibility. One of the dead terrorists was found to have a Syrian passport. This created an immediate uproar, since a very large number of Syrians have claimed refugee status, conveyed by the United Nations, because of an ongoing war in their home country of Syria. That war itself is very confusing, with the “players,” their “sponsors” and supporters not at all clear cut as to which is the “bad guys,” and which are the “good guys.” This is not a situation that can be easily examined and a conclusion reached as to whom is at fault. Due to that war, many people have been dislocated, and have fled the country and/or have sought refugee status. This includes Muslims and Christians. President Obama, even prior to the Paris attacks, has declared that the United States will accept up to 100,000 Islamic refugees. However, the State Department has refused entry to many, many Christian refugees from other countries.
In light of the Paris attacks, it seemed prudent to me to re-think the President’s policy on the refugees, and I admit that I was furious that he did not do so. In my opinion, the United States is in much more danger due to his position on this, and I posted multiple times on social media regarding this issue. As I said earlier, those posts were characterized as hateful and inflammatory, and inconsistent with Christianity. Hence this essay.
Prior to writing this article, I went back to November 14, and read through every single post on my page concerning the Paris attacks. I then wrote out a line or two of their content. Understand, I post a lot. And if I had been required to rely on my recollection, I would have said that nearly all of my posts were somehow related to the Paris attacks, and that I had suspended my normal volume of typical posts, which run the gamut of humor to politics to sports back to humor to scuba diving to the weather and back to humor. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was not so. I still posted my usual volume of non-political posts, with a lot of humor (example: I like to serve Eggs Benedict on hub caps because there’s no plate like chrome for the hollandaise. Get it? “No place like home…” well, anyhow…). Follows are the one-line synopses of every single one of my posts on the subject, starting from the first one to the latest:
- 127 killed. Bumps up to 140.
- Putin insists immigrants become Russian. (in comparison to Obama’s lack of any similar conviction)
- Obama refuses to acknowledge Islamic terrorism.
- Obama stated that “Isis is contained” and approx. 12 hours later the Paris attacks occur.
- Isis coming to US. Warning to all.
- Article on incident in Kenya, attack on Christians students at university.
- Meme mocking Hillary.
- Netanyahu statement that Islam behind Paris attacks; first world leader to say this.
- Meme pointing out that the Tsarnaev brothers (Boston bombers) were “refugees.”
- Seven points mocking Obama and the Clintons regarding their policies on Isis, gun control, refugees, police, Islam.
- Posts regarding Bernie Sanders stupidity with attacks (he said that the attacks happened because the murderers had no jobs and because of climate change).
- US refugee centers speeding up the process to get the refugees in faster.
- An article identifying the victims of the Paris attack.
- Map of where refugees are settling in the United States (including an additional 50 to be settled just fifteen miles from my home).
- Location of jihadi camps in the US (including two in neighboring states).
- An article and map of states refusing to accept refugees (multiple posts).
- An article detailing that the US State Dept. has refused visas to persecuted Christians.
- Statement from Senator Jeff Sessions that we cannot vet refugees.
- An article that Republicans in the US House of Reps. are putting a bill together to address refugee issue.
- An article on WHY Paris attacks get more media mileage than attacks in Africa, etc.
- Obama saying that he is “not interested in the US leading or winning.”
- A meme stating that “If you have ten grapes and two poisoned, would you eat them?”
- A meme with a quote from ISIS: “We have 71 soldiers in 15 states,” and a corresponding quote that “We have 80 million gun owners…”
- An original post that there is not an “off-chance” that terrorists will infiltrate with other refugees. This post sprang from a post I had seen comparing any current refusal to accept Syrian refugees to refusing to accept Jews in WWII.
- A post, quoted as saying, “Before saying I support France, read this article by Michael Hurd.” This was a very conservative approach to Islam and refugees. https://drhurd.com/before-saying-i-support-france-please-read-this/
- A map of worldwide locations of tweets from ISIS supporters. The US is fourth on the list.
- An article detailing how President Obama was late for a moment of silence for the victims of the Paris attacks, and him saying that he was “not interested in posturing about the US winning…”
- A video of a Greece/Turkey soccer match, showing that the Turks booed during a moment of silence for the Paris victims, and chanted Allah Akbar.
- A meme placing the blame on Obama and Clinton for Muslim extremist terrorism currently being the largest worldwide threat.
- An article quoting John Kerry, that people “shouldn’t be rushing to judgment” on the refugees.
- An article expounding on why “Syrians refugees aren’t like Jews fleeing Europe,” and includes the US State Dept. saying vast majority of Syrian refugees coming to America are already safe, and are coming from Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt.
- Photo showing/comparing starving African babies to Muslim males as refugees
- An article detailing how 5 Syrians with stolen passports were located in Honduras.
- A John Pickering video, using gum balls to demonstrate the fallacy with the current US immigration policy.
- An article that America has already allowed in 2151 refugees, and that only 53 are “Christians.”
- A quote from Ronald Reagan, “a nation that cannot control its boarders is not a nation.”
- A meme mocking Obama’s statement that ISIS is a “JV team.” The meme said, “The JV team is winning.”
- An editorial cartoon, “Which is the bigger threat to the US: Isis or Obama?”
- An opinion piece detailing Kerry’s comments to the French regarding the Paris attacks.
- An article about the female homicide bomber and Obama’s statements prior her death, in which Obama said, “apparently they’re afraid of widows and orphans…”
- An article saying that a “missing refugee from Louisiana was found in D.C.
- An article and video of refugees protesting conditions at hotel they were put up in, and giving demands.
- An article analyzing why those on the political left “prefer” Islam to Christianity.
- A two paragraph quote that America’s constitution does not vest the national government with enumerated power over immigration enforcement, suggesting that states can, in fact, refuse to accept refugees.
- A meme stating, “And the sheep decided that instead of making friends with more sheepdogs, they would hang up signs saying, ‘No biting.'”
- An article that Al Qaeda terrorists that had actually killed US soldiers were STILL allowed to legally entered the US. through a refugee program.
- A meme that not taking in Syrian refugees and closing our boarders is not mean or heartless, and that “I lock my doors every night not because I hate people outside my house, but because I love the people inside my house.”
- An article that Christiana Amanpour criticized Obama over statements he made at G20.
- Another person’s post that I passed along, stating that President Obama has drawn multiple lines in the sand with Syria, but that he hasn’t enforced a single challenge to those lines by Syria.
- A bill introduced by US the U.S. House of Representatives that is virtually veto proof, due to the support of 47 Democrats.
Ok, admittedly my college degrees aren’t in mathematics, but I counted approximately 50 separate posts on the subject of the Paris attacks and the Syrian refugees. The bulk of them are pieces that present perspectives from a factual and/or rather objective basis. Of all of the posts on the topic, I counted three that I could consider to be inflammatory. I have highlighted those three. They are opinion pieces, and as such I can understand how they could be construed as inflammatory. There are also other opinion pieces, editorial cartoons, and memes that I would not characterize as inflammatory, nor as hateful. Several of the posts are barbed and sarcastic; such is the nature of editorials. But hateful? Inflammatory? I’m not seeing it. Each of my posts were published with a particular point. Perhaps that current United States policy is wrong, or that we need to re-visit the whole topic of refugees. Perhaps that President Obama is (or others are) pursuing a personal agenda that is harmful to the United States. Perhaps that even Obama’s supporters are questioning him. Further, I intentionally bypassed anything that mocked Muslims, Islam, or their specific beliefs and religious practices. There are clearly a multitude of those, and I specifically wanted to distance myself from such, and attempted to present information that would not be perceived as hateful. Perhaps I did not entirely succeed in that attempt. I freely confess my frustration on the topic, and it is entirely possible that my frustration leaked over into some of my posts, and if any were hateful or inflammatory, I apologize. That was not my intent.
Securing our borders and judicious selection of refugees is, to my way of thinking, not just our right as a sovereign nation, but our responsibility as well. America isn’t perfect. But because we are a “shining light on a hill;” because we are the “land of the free and home of the brave,” I understand and applaud those that wish to settle here. I welcome those that come here legally, and make no distinction between natural-born and naturalized citizens. I do not support those that come here illegally, any more than I would invite a burglar to sit at table with my family. Nor do I welcome anyone that comes to the U.S., not with the intent to settle and assimilate into our culture, but to commit attacks on American citizens or property. And I think that any country has the right to permit or deny entry, regulate the process to become a citizen, and to protect those that are legally within that country’s borders. The first and most important duty of any government is the physical protection of its citizens. The United States is no less within its rights to protect our citizens (and those here legally) than is any other country in the world. I have read the scriptures, and thought about application to the current topic. Nowhere do I read a mandate to commit cultural suicide by allowing an unchecked or un-vetted group to immigrate into our borders. I recognize mandates to care for the poor, and to treat sojourners kindly. But I do not think that means anyone can come into the United States at any time for any reason. So I think that limits on immigration is simply common sense. And I do not think that violates my Christianity in any way.