Missouri lawmakers are pressing Governor Nixon to look for ways to discourage the entry of Syrian refugees to the state. The state’s religious groups are watching as that debate grows more political.

The Catholic Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis (Wikimedia Commons)

The Catholic Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis (Wikimedia Commons)

Missouri Catholic Conference Executive Director Mike Hoey says to totally block refugees would be an “extreme position.”

“I understand the anger and I understand the fear, but when we’re angry and we’re fearful we’re not necessarily operating out of our best place,” said Hoey. “We need to check the people over carefully but we still need to allow some Syrian refugees in. I think it’s the humanitarian thing for us to do.”

The Catholic bishops of Missouri, in a statement, said refugees go through up to two years of a vetting process to enter the U.S.

The Missouri Baptist Convention does not take a position on refugee policy, said its Team Leader for Communications, Rob Phillips, but it calls on all sides in that debate to pray.

“For peace in Syria and other war-torn countries, we should pray for wisdom for our leaders who have some very difficult decisions to make, we should pray for the safety and protection for the refugees who are fleeing war and genocide, and I think we should pray also for a civil debate when we discuss the complex issues relating to human dignity and border security,” said Phillips.

The state’s House and Senate budget committees will hold a hearing Tuesday morning on state financing of refugee assistance. We will stream that hearing live at Missourinet.com.