Refugees And Religion: Welcoming The Stranger In Modern Times
Abrahamic religious groups’ rich history of refugee advocacy is deeply rooted in the notion of “welcoming the stranger,” as inspired by passages in the sacred texts of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
On December 4, KPCC religion and diaspora reporter Aaron Schrank hosted a panel discussion exploring what some faith traditions teach about refugees, the historic role of religious groups in the U.S. refugee program, and Americans’ shifting sense of moral responsibility to foreigners in need.
The Trump administration’s recent decision to cut the annual refugee cap to 18,000 people – the lowest in the program’s history – isn’t sitting well with these religious groups. Since taking office, President Trump has gradually dismantled the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, which has admitted a yearly average of 95,000 refugees since it began in 1980. The Trump White House has also recently announced a plan to allow states and cities to opt out of accepting foreigners fleeing persecution.
While nearly 80 percent of Americans identify with a faith group, people are divided on whether the United States should accept refugees. In a 2018 Pew survey, 51 percent said the country had a responsibility to accept refugees, while 43 percent said it doesn’t.
Neil Comess-Daniels – rabbi, Santa Monica’s Temple Beth Shir Shalom
Nahla Kayali – founder and executive director, Access California Services
Scott Rae – professor of Christian ethics, Biola University
Ava Steaffens – director of strategic engagement, World Relief
This event is produced in partnership with the USC Annenberg Knight Program on Media and Religion. It is made possible by a grant from the Luce Foundation.