Perhaps you have been reading my blogs or have heard me speak on YouTube, at a mosque, church or synagogue. After you heard me speak or read my blogs you were inspired to become part of the peace and reconciliation movement to bring Muslims, Christians and other people of good will together in the United States and around the world. You are excited, but you are not sure what to do next.
So the next big questions for you are “What’s next? How can I get started in this amazing revolutionary movement of peace between Muslims and Christians that you are advocating and promoting?”
If this describes you and these questions are burning in your heart the PEACE PATH Reconciliation Model is for you. PEACE PATH is based on the successful model of peacemaking I developed over the last ten years in the United States. This model is time and field-tested and it works! This e-course will give you practical step-by-step instructions on how anyone can begin the journey of peace building in their own local communities.
When you sign up for my PEACE PATH Model e-Course you will receive an email each week that will cover a dimension of the model. It is designed to be completed in bite size pieces over a period of several weeks. At the end of each email, you receive will be practical suggestions and resources that might be helpful in your journey as a peacemaker.
What Is PEACE PATH?
The PEACE PATH consists of 9 reconciliation tools:
Participate in God’s Dream
Express God’s Love
Advocate for the Common Good
Communicate God’s Message of Reconciliation
Plant Peace Communities
Apply the Six Core Practices
Team Up For Service Projects
Have People Over For Dinner
Sign up today to be notified when the course is ready. I hope to have the e-course ready by late September or early October of 2017. Be on the look out!
You can also join The Path Online Community
To go along with the course above, you can also join The Path Online Community.
The Path will be a full-fledged online community with a website, teaching content, discussion areas and much more for Muslims, Christians, and other people of goodwill who want to connect online and to form local community gatherings to do the following sacred practices:
1. Become good friends without an agenda or hook — This means we agree to take a journey together without any hidden agendas. Our only agenda is to love our neighbor and look for practical ways to serve and bless each other.
2. Eat together — Until our families are interacting and our children are playing together then we are just having a nice talk. We need to go beyond dialogue and become friends and eat in each other homes.
3. Explore faith together as friends — This means we can safely explore and share the similarities and differences of our faith and spiritual practice in a non-polemical way. The goal is to seek first to understand each other and to see each other as human beings. At this level, we are safe to ask each other the hard questions concerning our differences and also to find what we have in common together. Then we can begin to walk the Third Path together as spiritual friends.
4. Work together locally for the public good by doing a service project. Once we are eating together, becoming good friends and exploring our faith commonality and differences as friends, then we can begin to work together on much needed humanitarian projects in our local communities.
The Path community will focus on holistic peacemaking, reconciliation, and restorative justice between Muslims, Christians, and other people of good will. The core DNA of The Path community flows out of the Golden Rule: love your neighbor as yourself and treat other people the way you want to be treated. And if you find an enemy in your journey try to make them your friend.
It will take some time to create the website for The Path but if you sign up I will send you updates and alerts on how things are progressing. Feel free to invite your friends and other people of peace to join The Path.
This past week my daughter Olivia and I took a seven-hour road trip to the Wild Goose Festival. I must confess that next to bodyboarding I do not know when I have had so much crazy fun. Over 2,000 people converged on Hot Springs, North Carolina to have a celebration of Jesus in a primal, earthy and joyous festival.
There weren’t just Christians at this celebration, but everyone was welcome to the table of joy! I spoke three times on the topic How My Momma, My Wife, and a Little Muslim Boy Saved Me From Racism. People loved it! I had no panic attacks this week. I was in the presence of my true spiritual family.
All Sinners Welcomed!
For Pharisees and political Sadduccess, people who love war, hate diversity, and just cannot stand the thought of Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Evangelicals, Charismatics, Mainliners, Liberals and Conservatives and many other “sinners” coming to the table of Christ’s joy this would have been too much. I loved it. It was the road trip of a life time for Olivia and me.
Joshua Comes to Town
On the way back home Olivia wanted to watch the movie Joshua on her Ipad. The film is based on the popular book by Josephe E. Girzone. It is the story of Jesus who is portrayed in character Joshua who comes to a small town in the U.S. When he shows up as a handy man Carpenter that starts not only to mend fences and do repair jobs but to fix people’s lives and heal the pain that hinders a beloved community from forming. Not everyone is happy with what he is doing, but in the end, even the hardest and most fearful Pharisees are won over by his abounding love and generosity. I love this story.
I could not see the movie because I was driving. I think it is against the law and probably not a good idea to watch movies while you are driving. So I had to listen to it on the car surround sound. It made the seven-hour drive more bearable.
Olivia would stop the movie about every 15 minutes to ask me questions like “Do you think Donald Trump is going to heaven?” “Is there a hell?” and “How does God want us to live in a country that seems so set on fear and war?” Not bad questions for a ten-year-old. She can be so mature one minute and have a melt down over not wanting to take a bath the next. Why didn’t some one warn me before how complicated and challenging parenting and marriage can be. Some times it can feel like I am living in a beautiful nightmare, but in the end, I am so glad I did not miss this privilege and right of passage. The details of that paradox are a blog post for another day.
What Would Jesus Do?
The question that Olivia asked me that stood out the most was: “If Jesus showed up today as he did in the movie Joshua what kind of job do you think he would be doing?” I must confess I had never thought of this. We discussed would he take a career in politics, religion or activism. It was a fun discussion.
Then Olivia seemed to be smitten by light from heaven. She said, “I think I know exactly what he would do. He would be working at the Wild Goose Festival.”
I laughed at first but then I realized that she was dead serious.
She said, “Dad, think about it. Jesus loves working with his hands and helping people. He does not like to draw unnecessary attention to himself. I think he would love driving the golf carts at the WGF so he could pick up weary travelers who had to walk half a mile from their cars to their camp sites. He might have spoken a time or two, but I think he would rather listen to what the other speakers had to say. When he was not driving the golf cart around, I believe he would be helping the volunteers cook and serve food at the Desanka cafeteria tent. Once he was finished with prepping, cooking and serving food to the 2,000 people at the WGF, he would have volunteered to help Papy Fisher in the Desanka Spirit Cafe where he could pray for people, heal their broken hearts and give away a lot of free hugs. But I think his favorite thing to do would have been to pick up individuals in the golf cart. He could have done that all day.”
Some fascinating insights into the life of Jesus from a ten-year-old who thinks Jesus would have preferred to volunteer at the WGF instead of being a speaker. I think I need to get a golf cart.
What do you think Jesus would do if he were walking among us today? Something to think about.
Remember Me? I am Jeff Burns; peace builder between Muslims and Christian in the U.S. I hope you are doing well. I want to humbly apologize that you have not heard from me for awhile. You signed up for my blog, and it seemed like I just disappeared. It was not fair to my readers. I should have told you what was going on. Once again, I humbly apologize for disappearing.
I took a hiatus from blogging for a season to work through some difficult issues I needed to resolve concerning my peacemaking journey. Although I took a break from blogging, I did not take a break from my peacemaking. Now that I have worked through some of those core issues I just wanted you to know that you will be receiving regular posts from me again. In fact, I would like to share the processing journey that I went through during my time away from blogging. I believe God wants me to share with my primarily Muslim and Christian audience the good, the bad and the ugly of what it has meant for me to be a peacemaker in the U.S. for the last ten years.
First, I would like to share some of the good of my peacemaking journey.
I met Omar ten years ago, but it seems like only yesterday. I never dreamed that one encounter would change my life so much. (See the story of Omar at this link: https://jeffburns.org/how-a-muslim-child-saved-an-evangelical-ministers-soul/). I have seen so much amazing, and lasting fruit come forth during this time. I have seen mosques and churches become close friends. I have inspired Muslims, Christians, and Jews to build Habitat homes for the poor, form Communities of Reconciliation, (some groups have lasted for years!), feed the homeless, share their faith with each other and show the world a better way to be human.
The Bad & The Ugly
But I have, to be honest with you. It has not all been “rainbows and unicorns” (the two things my daughter Olivia loves the most). I have experienced unbelievable spiritual attack and criticism from people and organizations. It has taken its toll. The irony is that 99% of the attacks came from the Christian community. It was devastating at times. My people should have known better.
When I first started this work I was an idealist. I had hated Muslims before I encountered Omar, but that meeting with him filled my heart with so much love. I felt like Saul on the road to Damascus. I was breathing out threats and hatred towards, them but I met Jesus on the road, and he showed up as an unassuming little child. I was undone.
As time went on and the attacks intensified, I began to move out of idealism. I could tell you stories of wonderful projects we started and how they got destroyed or derailed because my critics put so much fear in the hearts of the churches I was working with. One large church I was working with had a mosque begging to partner with them. It was a historical moment. We were on our way, but the critics convinced the leadership of the church that I was a “heretic” and “enemy of the church.” The project was destroyed, and the Muslims confused. I had to say to the Muslims, “I am so sorry.” My heart was broken.
After this happens several times over several years, you begin to move from idealism to disillusionment, to cynicism. This story has been repeated several times. My new processing of this journey has given me a new perspective on what it means to take up your cross and follow Jesus.
I understand the pain and the price of being a peacemaker between Muslims and Christians in the United States. Were it not for the love of Christ and the amazing real fruit we have seen I would have, like the apostle Paul, “despaired of life.” Every true peacemaker on the front lines of the Kingdom of God knows what I am talking about. Some of my friends have endured so much more than I have.
In spite of these challenges, I have remained a peacemaker. I have thought about quitting for some reasons and concerns, but God will not release me from it at this time. I have moved from cynicism to realism.
A New “Why?”
Recently, I had a conversation with a bestselling Christian author. He told me to go to three people who know me well and submit my struggles and concerns to them. It changed my life. The short version of that story was that I had become cynical like Moses when he got weary of the complaining of his people. God called me to deliver a prophetic message of love to a stubborn people–my people and I got weary and drained from the murmuring, complaining and spiritual attacks. I needed a new “why” and reason for what I was doing.
One day during a time of prayer, I believe the Lord showed me that He wanted me to begin to write a series of blogs that would tell the stories of my journey as a peacemaker–not just the good ones but the hard ones and the sad ones. In other words, God wants me to tell the good, the bad and the ugly of my journey as a peacemaker. This new phase of my writing and Peacebuilding is part of finding a new “why” for what I am doing.
This series of blogs is not the lashing out of a cynic but the true stories of where I have walked. I believe God showed me that His people, both Muslims and Christians, needed to hear these stories. My goal is hope and redemption for all people of good will and who love Christ.
So if you are interested in that journey, by all means, sign up for my blog posts at www.jeffburns.org. Let your friends know about it. Through writing and peacebuilding, I hope to get the message God’s love for all people through the core message of Jesus to younger Muslims and Christians. I believe they are our best hope at this time.
I have discovered that Muslims and Christians agree on this core message of Jesus? What is this beautiful core message you might ask? It is to love God with all your heart, love your neighbor as yourself, treat other people the way you want to be treated and if you find enemies along the way do everything within your power to make them your friends.
13 Suddenly a vast, heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,14 “Glory to God in the highest,and on earth peace among people with whom he is pleased!”
Humanity’s Endless Addiction Cycle
Have you ever wondered why we as humans cannot get our stuff together? It seems like the human race cannot hold on to anything good, and violence, scapegoating and greed seem to be our default positions. It is so easy for us to choose fear over love, violence over peace, exclusion over embrace, and greed over hospitality and generosity.
Yet every time we choose to live from the darker side of our nature we become less human. The love, joy, peace, and abundance we desire slips through our fingers, and we are left with a big void in our hearts. A void that only God’s love can fill. Violence, scapegoating and greed cannot live in harmony with love, peace, joy, and generosity. We have to choose.
Rene Girard, a famous French Anthropologist, believes that the foundation of human civilization is built upon the cycle greed, hostility, violence and scapegoating. It is humanity’s endless addiction. He calls this cycle the Principle of Satan. For Girard the idea of Satan is more about this tragic cycle humanity is caught up into than an actual personal Satan. I tend to believe it is both happening at the same time, but you need to decide that for yourself. Nonetheless he gives us an sobering truth about our darker selves. It goes something like this: 1) I desire something (gold, oil, land, power, etc.). This makes you desire what I want. 2) This leads to rivalry and hostility between us and potentially violence. 3) The only way we can end the rivalry, hostility and violence is to find a scapegoat. 4) The scapegoat becomes a sacrifice which brings a false peace between us. The only way we can keep peace between us is to find someone to blame and scapegoat for all our problems. That way we do not have to face the real issues, nor the fact that we might actually be part of the problem.
Scapegoating helps us save face so we can continue living in denial that we are participants in the same evils we claim we righteously want to destroy. This cycle, or Principle of Satan, has been played out through our past and continues to play out now.
The American Story
How? We desire control and security. We cannot seem to work out our problems or differences in our country or our international relationships. So we find a scapegoat in order to bring us together as a nation so we can have peace again. Southerners used to scapegoat black people, and it brought them a sense of false peace and group unity every time they lynched a black person or beat them back into “their place.”
As a nation we nearly destroyed the native Americans by scapegoating them as “savages.” It eased our religious consciouses as Americans as we used the Bible to call native Americans the new “Canaanites” who must be slaughtered and driven from the land so that our grandparents could settle the new frontier. It united our country around the vision of “Manifest Destiny” which meant as we expanded West genocide was acceptable in order to create a nation from “sea to shining sea.”
The Apex Example of Scapegoating
Hitler and the German people scapegoated the Jews in the name of security and killed 6 million people. The Third Reich killed millions of other ethnic groups along with the disabled, gay people, and mentally handicapped. The Jews however, were the largest group Hitler targeted. It shocks me that there are people in this world who still pretend this horrific event did not happen.
We Need To Take A Look In The Mirror
Today some of our leading presidential candidates who claim to be Christians along with 40% of Americans believe we should scapegoat Muslims and refugees by denying our American Muslim citizens their equal rights and turning suffering refugees away from our shores.
Some of the rich in this country scapegoat the poor by saying they should just work harder, and many of the poor scapegoat the rich by assuming they are all greedy thieves. It seems that one of the things that brings a lot of people together in this country is another war. War seems to bring a false sense of peace for a season, but we end up resolving nothing that brings a lasting solution for our nation.
A scapegoat can be a person, ethnic group, or a different religious or political ideology. The truth is that we are afraid to love, and that we as a nation and individuals are part of this terrible cycle of greed, hostility, violence and scapegoating. We are all perpetrators of the the Principle of Satan, and we cannot break out of the cycle because we are trapped and afraid to look within to face our own demons.
God’s Dream & Secret Plan To End This Cycle
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
In spite of our addiction to the Principle of Satan, God has made a way for humanity to break free from this seeming perpetual cycle of greed, hostility, violence and scapegoating. God has a beautiful Dream for the world. It has been His secret plan from the dawn of time to bring down the Principle of Satan that has enslaved humanity, and to end our vicious cycle of suffering. His secret plan is the antidote to the our cycle of greed, violence and scapegoating. His secret plan was to reconcile all things and all people to himself through the person of Jesus.
2,000 years ago God’s Dream for the world arrived in a little baby born in Bethlehem. In some special way, God came to us when God put His Spirit and Word into Mary’s womb and Jesus concieved. Jesus is the incarnation of the Word and Spirit of God made flesh. Just as my dear Muslim friends believe God put His eternal word into a book called the Qur’an, we as Christians believe God put His eternal word into a person.
When God’s Word became flesh in the person of Jesus, it was as if heaven and earth kissed each other, love and truth embraced each other, and matter and spirit became intertwined as everything was made holy. I believe it was George MacDonald who once said, “Matter matters to God.” This means the oceans, animals, people, the trees — everything has God’s blessing in it and upon it because of the incarnation of Jesus. This means how we treat refugees, Muslims, homeless people, economics, our neighbors, children, enemies, and spouses is a reflection of how we view God and respond to his Dream for the world.
Jesus gives us a picture of how the Principle of Satan, (the guiding principle of humanity since the dawn of human culture), has always been at odds with God’s Dream for the world.
12 And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven (God’s Dream for the world) has been forcefully advancing,[a] and violent people (Principle of Satan) are attacking it (Matthew 11:12)
God had a Dream for this world and violent people still fight that Dream, often it is done in the name of God. If we choose the cycle of greed, hostility, violence and scapegoating, we are in danger of becoming violent people (in our heart or actions) that are fighting or attacking God’s Dream for the world. No matter how many sermons we preach or Bible verses we attach to it we are operating in a way that goes against the very purposes of God on earth.
God’s Dream is so simple it causes us to stumble. God’s Dream is that there is peace on earth and good will towards all people. He dreams of a world where the naked are clothed, the poor have more than enough, the hungry are fed, the widows, orphans and fatherless have loving homes. He dreams of a world where justice and compassion are the rule of the land. His heart is for a world where the rich prosper, but in their prosperity they leave a legacy, not only for their children, but for those who work for them and those who will come after them. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are definitely showing the super rich how to do this. They are partnering with God’s Dream, even if they do not believe in Him or realize it.
Jesus was born 2,000 years ago. His birth was announced to the poorest of the poor — the shepherds. Caesar and all the might and power of Rome missed the whole event. Jesus came not only to save us, but to show us a better way to be human. He gave us a simple message as to how we could break free from the cycle of greed, hostility, violence and scapegoating, and enter into God’s Dream for saving the whole world. He message:
“Love God with all your being, love your neighbor as yourself, treat other people the way you want to be treated, and if you find enemies along the way do everything you can to make them your friends.”
Humanity killed Jesus for his message, but three days later he rose from the dead to prove to the world once and for all that the way of love and the Dream of God were superior to the Principle of Satan.
I yearn to find a church that believes this. Rejoice my friends! God’s Dream can among us in the person of Jesus and now we can choose a better way to be human.
Yesterday I was wrapping up my blog on the Syrian refugee crisis from the perspective of an immigration attorney and my daughter Olivia sat with me the entire time and watched me work. I explained to her that I was trying to help people have a better understanding of how important it is for us to continue to help refugees who are suffering and that we have the right facts about how we screen them coming into this country so we can be safe.
I explained to her that these suffering people are running from ISIS, civil war, persecution, hunger, death and misery. I told to her that a lot of people in our nation are afraid to let them into our country because they think some of them might be bad people like ISIS who are disguised as refugees. I asked Olivia to give me her opinion as a child as to what she thought we as a nation should do about the suffering Syrian refugees who need our help. Keep in mind she only nine years old, but you see her heart come through. Often we lose that heart as we get older. Here is what she come up with.
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Hi! My name is Olivia,
I am here too talk about what I think people could do to help the Syrian Refugees. Maybe we could build big shelters and take about nine big planes get the Refugees! The shelter needs lots of toys and fun stuff for the kids. Food and beds for everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂
Here is why I think we need to let Refugees in the U.S.A.
They are people.
They are struggling and suffering.
Their lives are at risk.
Everybody needs people looking out for each other because we are all God’s children and God’s children are brothers and sisters and this means everyone is important.
* * *
Olivia reminds us in a childlike way that God designed humanity to be a global family. A family that looks out for each other. God has a dream for this world. Part of his dream is “peace on earth and good will towards all people.” He dreams of the hungry being fed, the naked being clothed and the weakest among us being taken care of by the strongest.
Unfortunately, I do not hear many sermons on this from the pulpits these days. Perhaps we just do not believe those words any more or is it possible that we just do not trust or believe in the raw message of Jesus to be a viable answer to deep needs of our world today.
As I read and reflected on Olivia’s comments, I thought I would include a photo album of these precious suffering Syrian refugees who Olivia believes are our brothers and sisters who deeply need our help. Take some time to look them in the eyes and see them with your hearts. Say a prayer for them and maybe make a donation to a group that is trying to help them.
A few days ago I was coming home and I noticed that two of our neighbors’ cats were posturing themselves for a major cat fight. I knew that bloodshed was imminent. I could not just turn the other way and just let this happen. Turning the other way and pretending not to see problems and being unwilling to work for viable solutions seems to be normative in our culture. But I have chosen to be a person of action. I got out of my car and stood between the cats and said to them, “Okay you two just settle down. You guys are not going to fight today.” Then I picked up Mabel, our next door neighbor’s cat, and made her go home.
Unbeknownst one of my neighbors was watching this whole drama. He started laughing at me and said, “There goes the peacemaker. He just can’t help himself. He’s always honing his skills. Even if it’s with cats.” I smiled back at him and said, “I’m just trying to prevent bloodshed.”
A Catalyst For Peace
Most people who know me identify me as a life coach and a peacemaker. I prefer to see myself as more a catalyst for peace than a peacemaker. I bring people and resources together, and once they are working together as friends for the common good I move on. I am constantly looking for win/win solutions and how people who are stuck in polarized positions can become friends and build a better future together.
As I blog I want to bring you fresh perspectives on important issues and provide you with practical resources for your consideration so that you can make better informed decisions. I am not asking you to agree with everything I say, but to be willing to listen to differing opinions and perhaps work with others who are different from you to create a better reality. A reality that could not have been created through ideological conformity and intellectual polarization. Albert Einstein reportedly said, “The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.” I believe Einstein would include the current Syrian refugee crisis if he were here today.
The controversial subject of the U.S. taking in more Syrian refugees is an issue that is dividing our country. Good and intelligent people on both sides have strong opinions and convictions as to what our nation should do. I submit to you an opinion of someone who is worthy of your consideration.
An Immigration Attorney Weighs In
Scott Hicks, is an immigration attorney and Christian minister. As someone who is an expert in Immigration law and part of the vetting process for refugees coming into this country he gives us a unique perspective on how the process of entry actually works. Also, he also addresses the validity of the security concerns around the refugee vetting process for the U.S. I hope you find his letter that he posted on Facebook helpful. Thank you Scott for being willing to let me post your comments.
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Most of my friends know I practice Immigration law. As such, I have worked with the refugee community for over two decades. This post is long, but if you want actual information about the process, keep reading.
I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to see the misinformation and outright lies that are being perpetuated about the refugee process and the Syrian refugees. So, here is a bit of information from the real world of someone who actually works and deals with this issue.
The refugee screening process is multi-layered and is very difficult to get through. Most people languish in temporary camps for months to years while their story is evaluated and checked.
First, you do not get to choose what country you might be resettled into. If you already have family (legally) in a country, that makes it more likely that you will go there to be with family, but other than that it is random. So, you cannot simply walk into a refugee camp, show a document, and say, I want to go to America. Instead, the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees) works with the local authorities to try to take care of basic needs. Once the person/family is registered to receive basic necessities, they can be processed for resettlement. Many people are not interested in resettlement as they hope to return to their country and are hoping that the turmoil they fled will be resolved soon. In fact, most refugees in refugee events never resettle to a third country. Those that do want to resettle have to go through an extensive process.
Resettlement in the U.S. is a long process and takes many steps. The Refugee Admissions Program is jointly administered by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) in the Department of State, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and offices within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within DHS conducts refugee interviews and determines individual eligibility for refugee status in the United States.
We evaluate refugees on a tiered system with three levels of priority.
First Priority are people who have suffered compelling persecution or for whom no other durable solution exists. These individuals are referred to the United States by UNHCR, or they are identified by the U.S. embassy or a non-governmental organization (NGO).
Second priority are groups of “special concern” to the United States. The Department of State determines these groups, with input from USCIS, UNHCR, and designated NGOs. At present, we prioritize certain persons from the former Soviet Union, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Iran, Burma, and Bhutan.
Third priority are relatives of refugees (parents, spouses, and unmarried children under 21) who are already settled in the United States may be admitted as refugees. The U.S.-based relative must file an Affidavit of Relationship (AOR) and must be processed by DHS.
Before being allowed to come to the United States, each refugee must undergo an extensive interviewing, screening, and security clearance process conducted by Regional Refugee Coordinators and overseas Resettlement Support Centers (RSCs). Individuals generally must not already be firmly resettled (a legal term of art that would be a separate article). Just because one falls into the three priorities above does not guarantee admission to the United States.
The Immigration laws require that the individuals prove that they have a “well-founded fear,” (another legal term which would be a book.) This fear must be proved regardless of the person’s country, circumstance, or classification in a priority category. There are multiple interviews and people are challenged on discrepancies. I had a client who was not telling the truth on her age and the agency challenged her on it. Refugees are not simply admitted because they have a well founded fear. They still must show that they are not subject to exclusion under Section 212(a) of the INA. These grounds include serious health matters, moral or criminal matters, as well as security issues. In addition, they can be excluded for such things as polygamy, misrepresentation of facts on visa applications, smuggling, or previous deportations. Under some circumstances, the person may be eligible to have the ground waived.
At this point, a refugee can be conditionally accepted for resettlement. Then, the RSC sends a request for assurance of placement to the United States, and the Refugee Processing Center (RPC) works with private voluntary agencies (VOLAG) to determine where the refugee will live. If the refugee does have family in the U.S., efforts will be made to resettle close to that family.
Every person accepted as a refugee for planned admission to the United States is conditional upon passing a medical examination and passing all security checks. Frankly, there is more screening of refugees than ever happens to get on an airplane. Of course, yes, no system can be 100% foolproof. But if that is your standard, then you better shut down the entire airline industry, close the borders, and stop all international commerce and shipping. Every one of those has been the source of entry of people and are much easier ways to gain access to the U.S. Only upon passing all of these checks (which involve basically every agency of the government involved in terrorist identification) can the person actually be approved to travel.
Before departing, refugees sign a promissory note to repay the United States for their travel costs. This travel loan is an interest-free loan that refugees begin to pay back six months after arriving in the country.
Once the VOLAG is notified of the travel plans, it must arrange for the reception of refugees at the airport and transportation to their housing at their final destination. This process from start to finish averages 18 to 24 months, but I have seen it take years.
The reality is that about half of the refugees are children, another quarter are elderly. Almost all of the adults are either moms or couples coming with children. Each year the President, in consultation with Congress, determines the numerical ceiling for refugee admissions. For Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, the proposed ceiling is 85,000. We have been averaging about 70,000 a year for the last number of years. (Source: Refugee Processing Center)
Over one-third of all refugee arrivals (35.1 percent, or 24,579) in FY 2015 came from the Near East/South Asia—a region that includes Iraq, Iran, Bhutan, and Afghanistan. Another third of all refugee arrivals (32.1 percent, or 22,472) in FY 2015 came from Africa. Over a quarter of all refugee arrivals (26.4 percent, or 18,469) in FY 2015 came from East Asia — a region that includes China, Vietnam, and Indonesia. (Source: Refugee Processing Center)
Finally, the process in Europe is different. I would be much more concerned that terrorists are infiltrating the European system because they are not nearly so extensive and thorough in their process.
Many Americans do not realize that ISIS has killed more Muslims than they have any other group. It is estimated that ISIS has killed at least a 100,000 Muslims. ISIS is not only out to obliterate ancient historical sites or anything that represents Christianity, but also Muslims who do not conform to their radical violent sectarian version of Islam. This is a side story that is not emphasized enough in the media.
Why Is There A Syrian Refugee Crisis?
We are having a refugee crisis because Muslims are fleeing from ISIS for their lives. These Muslim refugees along with their Christian neighbors are seeing their sons and husbands murdered by ISIS and their daughters forced to become sex slaves. If they do not join ISIS and become radicalized the alternatives are death, rape and torture. This is how the Caliphate of ISIS is attempting to force the “rule of God” on earth.
ISIS Sinister Plan
Adam Taylor who writes on foreign affairs for the Washington Post believes the Paris terrorist attacks were a trap to get Europe to hate Muslims. ISIS wants us to hate Muslims and refugees so that they will be forced to join the Islamic State. He says:
If Muslim refugees come to Europe and are welcomed, it deeply undercuts the Islamic State’s legitimacy. Aaron Zelin, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, has helpfully catalogued some of the Islamic State’s messages on the refugees pouring into Europe from the Middle East. The messages give the impression of deep discomfort and even jealousy that the Muslim population the Islamic State so covets for its self-proclaimed “caliphate” would rather live in “infidel” Western lands.
Are We Falling Into ISIS’s Trap?
Those of us in the United States and Europe should strongly consider our treatment of our Muslim neighbors and how we handle the Syrian refugee crisis. We do not want to be reactionary pawns in ISIS’ grande schemes or fall into their terrorist traps.
This behooves us to attempt to work for a win/win solution on the Syrian refugee crisis and how we relate to our Muslim neighbors so we can balance our great need for security with our responsibility to be good neighbors and humanitarians. ISIS is terrified that we will find that balance. Maybe we as a nation we should consider doing the opposite of what ISIS hopes we will do with Syrian refugees and our Muslim neighbors.
Adam Taylor has written an outstanding article called The Islamic State Wants You To Hate Refugees. I give this article “two thumbs up.” It is loaded with links to other research that will help you see how ISIS wants to use a strategy of fear and hatred to get Muslims on their side by turning us against them. I hope you will take some time to read Adam’s article and consider his research. While our leaders prepare for war with ISIS let us continue peace and friendship with our Muslim neighbors who are equally opposed the evil radical agenda of ISIS. May we not force Muslims who hate ISIS into a corner that the Islamic State so desperately hopes we will do. ISIS Wants You To Hate Refugees
This is dynamic season in our country. Our nation is not only afraid because of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and California, but also because of the increasing global threat of terrorism around the world. It is a legitimate threat and we cannot take it lightly.
The central focus of the recent political debates has been keeping America safe and secure. Although I agree wholeheartedly with this concern I am of the belief that we have to find a way to do this without losing our souls in the process as Americans.
For The Sake Of Our Children
I realize that a strong military response to ISIS and it’s allies cannot be avoided, but if we do not find a way to deal with the root causes of why groups like ISIS exist then we will fail. Our children and grandchildren will inherit the bitter consequences of our inability to heal the breech that exists between our foreign policy interests and the interests of other nations of the world who also want a better life for themselves and their families.
Will we be an empire or a partner for the common good in a global community? Will we be afraid and think only of our self-preservation or will we enter into a national conversation to actually work for redemptive solutions to terrorism, immigration reform and receiving legitimate refugees in our country?
Can We Be Both Safe & Open?
One of the big issues before us now is what are we going to do with refugees coming through the Middle East who are fleeing for their lives from ISIS. I can appreciate the struggles on both sides of the issue and I think both sides are going to have to work together to solve this problem.
The key is to actually solve the refugee issue in ways we do not have to compromise our American values while taking care of our interests and need for security. I think it can be done, but those polarized in this conversation are going to have to see, hear, and engage each other for the sake of the common good of all in this country. And “yes” that includes our American Muslim neighbors who love this country and hate terrorism as much as the rest of us. We cannot scapegoat them or leave them out of the conversation. Nothing would make ISIS happier.
I found this blog about a U.S. Marine that has a great concern that we are in danger of letting our fear and need for security cause us to compromise who we are at our core as Americans. I hope you enjoy it. You do not have to agree with him, but I hope you will at least listen to what he has to say. U.S. Marine Comments on Syrian Refugee Crisis
One of the big questions before us is how are we going to live our lives in light of the Paris Terrorist attacks and the future threats ISIS has made towards all people of good will. Will we choose the path of fear and anger? I think so many people are tired of being afraid. Or will we choose the path of love and hope?
A wise man named John, who was the youngest disciple of Jesus said, “Fear has torments, but perfect love casts out all fear.” The Apostle Paul said, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.” These are wise words for terrible realities of our times.
Antoine Leiris, the father of a 17 month year old son, lost his lovely wife in the Paris terrorist attacks. In this short BBC video he tells ISIS how he feels about the death of his wife and how he will live his life as he moves forward. This is a powerful story. I hope it encourages you. How Antoine Responds To The Terrorists Who Murdered His Wife
This is what fear does in our country. Some people claim we are a Christian nation which I do not believe is true. But if that is what millions in this country claim that we are then we have to reject the spirit of fear.
As Christians we have to stand against fear and choose the path of love and reason. The path we are on now could eventually lead to arresting innocent people, destruction of property and businesses, and charities of people different than us. In my opinion, this would be a nullification of the Bill of Rights.
If we as Christians stand back and let our Muslim friends rights be violated then it is just a matter of time when we lose ours. We cannot have it both ways. God bless our freedom! God bless the Bill of Rights! God bless our country and may it always be a land for all its people.
I give you the words of the famous statement and provocative poem written by Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis’ rise to power and the subsequent purging of their chosen targets, group after group. If we let this happen to the Muslims or any minority group in our country then eventually it will happen to us.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
I found this to be a helpful article on the backlash of fear of Muslims and Syrian refugees in the U.S. in light of the Paris terrorist attacks.