Clergymen view refugee issueQuestions of legal versus illegal immigration, terrorist attacks, and Sharia Law broached

Churches are often called on to help with refugees from other states or nations, but the changing political environment has made the question more complex than it ever has been, says American Pastors Network President Sam Rohrer of Lancaster, Pa.
Joining Bishop Michael Sis of San Angelo and Odessa ministers Darren Willis and Tim O’Neal in the discussion, Rohrer said in a Dec. 13 phone interview that terrorist attacks on Nov. 28 at Ohio State University and in December 2015 in San Bernardino, Calif., intensified the debate.
“Churches have the responsibility to reach out and assist all those who are in need, but they cannot take the position of providing sanctuary to those who have broken the law,” said the former Pennsylvania state representative. “The attacks at Ohio State and in San Bernardino add to the continuing narrative of the danger posed to innocent citizens by those immigrants who hold to the Koran and Sharia Law.
“It is completely clear, according to those who hold those convictions, that they are doing well and abiding by their law by killing people and destroying property. That is why the government needs to pursue those who break the law, and the churches need to understand that there are many people who hold to a cultic view of life and ideology mandating that Christians and all who do not submit to Sharia should be eliminated.”
Rohrer said there is a difference between immigrants who come to the U.S. to join American society and those who have no interest in assimilating. “There is a big distinction between those who have historically come to the U.S. and Islamic-adherent immigrants whose teaching forbids them to mix with any society,” he said.
“They integrate into a society, but then at some point they are commanded to rise up and subdue it. That mentality is foreign to Christian thought and to nearly all immigrants who have come to the U.S. in the past and made us what we are.”
Sis, who presides over the Catholic Diocese of San Angelo, said he is confident that the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service is properly vetting refugees from countries like Myanmar and the Central African Republic.
Sis said immigrants are much more prominent in El Paso, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin, but the INS “port cities” of Amarillo and Abilene have been the first destinations of many legal newcomers who subsequently moved to the Permian Basin.
Noting that the Catholic Charities agency is heavily involved, the bishop said, “Many are coming from places where their lives are being threatened.
“Our goal is helping fellow human beings in need. We believe that when we serve someone, we’re serving Christ Himself. It’s the core of our Christian faith. Our goal is not proselytizing people, it’s seeing that they live in a safe environment. We have seen quite a few enter in Abilene and then end up in Midland-Odessa for the better job market.”
The Rev. Willis, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, said the environment changed with the election of Donald Trump as president.
Referring to Trump’s promise that he will restrict the admission of Muslims, Willis said, “He has determined what he will do with the refugee crisis, so we have to pray for him and our officials as they make decisions for the government.
“What we have to do is pray for all people in any type of crisis situation. If a refugee is hungry or in poverty, as Jesus said, ‘whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you have not done for me.’ ”
The Rev. O’Neal, pastor of Refuge Ministries, said his church “will help out wherever we can and wherever our community needs us to.
“There should be a process for anybody to go through, and we already have that in place for anybody who wants to become a naturalized citizen, whoever they are, wherever they’re coming from and whatever their background is,” O’Neal said. “The Bible tells us to love one another and love our neighbors, so if we are able, we should try to meet it as a church issue.”