More Missouri religious groups are calling for Syrian refugees to be welcomed into Missouri and the U.S., and accuse lawmakers and candidates who have called for a halt to refugees’ entrance of reacting to and spreading fear.
Reverend John Bennett with the Disciples of Christ says that call by those politicians isn’t the only sentiment in Missouri.
“We want a different narrative to be heard versus a narrative of fear,” said Bennett. “We would like our legislators to set the moral tone in terms of visionary leadership that looks at the big picture rather than the immediate, knee-jerk reaction.”
Millersburg minister Larry Brown has been an active supporter of Church World Service, which helps refugees. He said people of faith are called to help those in need.
“I have found myself in the position just recently in worship service where I attend having to stand up and say, ‘Well I don’t know about you, but I’m going to make my home open to any refugees that want to come,'” said Brown at a gathering Thursday morning at the Capitol.
David Finke with the Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation wants federal lawmakers to block passage of legislation to restrict refugees.
“The bill that was passed – I would say to our shame – by the [U.S.] House of Representatives is pending in the Senate, so if you ask what do we call for, we call for the Senate to reject that bill,” said Finke.
Mike Hoey with the Missouri Catholic Conference, who recently spoke to Missourinet about the refugee issue and said one of the Conference’s priorities is that the state legislature not stop the appropriation of federal funds to refugee assistance programs.
Hoey said these refugees are fleeing horrible conditions.
“If we close our doors to these refugees, ISIS wins. We let them define who we are,” said Hoey. “This is a defining moment four our country. Will we save the people fleeing ISIS or will we close the doors to these refugees? France has made their decision. They’re going to take in the refugees even after that terrible attack.”
Some lawmakers and candidates say the federal and UN vetting processes might not be touch enough to weed out possible terrorists who might try to sneak into the country among refugees. Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) at a hearing Monday defended a joint session of the House and Senate budget committees related to the refugee issue.
“No one should imply that somehow due diligence on what this process is and how dollars are being spent is somehow mean-spirited or xenophobia, or something we shouldn’t even talk about,” said Schaefer.