Will the thousands of Syrian refugees now being admitted to the US be Christians?
Posted by Ann Corcoran on October 4, 2014
Update December 9, 2015: We have much more up-to-date data and the percentage of Syrian Muslims coming into the US this fiscal year is now 99%, here.
Update November 17, 2015: This post is over a year old. We do know exactly how many Muslims are in the refugee stream arriving from Syria, it is well over 97%, see today’s post, here.
That is a question I get all the time. My best guess is that a few will be, but the vast majority will be Sunni Muslims.
My guess is based on a few facts from the past, first that of the Iraqi refugees we have resettled in recent years, the majority (we hear 62% this past year) are Muslims, and secondly, I have never seen in print any clamor from our major refugee resettlement contractors***, most of which are ostensibly Christian groups (US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee service and others), for specifically saving the Christians of the Middle East.
Maybe someone could direct me to anything where these contractors said to the US State Department—we want more Christians to resettle! My guess as to why they haven’t said that (correct me if I’m wrong and they have) is because of an overwhelming and insane desire to be politically correct and a fear of being called Islamophobes.
(Oh, and believe me, they aren’t taking mostly Muslims because they think they can convert them to Christianity, this is all about multiculturalism, diversity and inclusiveness!)
A writer (Terry Mattingly) at a website called ‘GetReligion’ addressed his question—how are refugees being chosen?—in response to the Washington Post article of this past week (our post here) where the WaPo tells us the State Department is processing 4,000 resettlement applications.
Mattingly found more evidence that most will be Muslims.
He says that since they will come from UN camps (after all the UN is pre-selecting for the US State Department), and the Christians are not in camps, surely the majority will be Muslims. As a matter of fact, I’ve read that many Christians are still in Syria somewhat protected by the secular Assad government.
Here is ‘GetReligion:’
First, the WaPo said this:
Most Syrian refugees considered candidates for U.S. residency have been living in refugee camps or elsewhere outside Syria for a year or much longer.
And then this from Terry Mattingly (emphasis is mine):
This leads to a logical question: Who is, when push comes to shove, running these UNHCR camps? In particular, I was curious to know how this selection system would affect the cases of refugees who are part of oppressed religious minority groups. I decided to ask a veteran human-rights activist about that.
The response? Christians on the run have been avoiding these camps because they tend to be hostile to minority-faith refugees. In other words, these camps are run by those in majority forms of Islam, even if they have – logically enough – clashed with the radicalized Islamic State.
In other words, we have a major religion ghost in this story. It is likely that the current pipeline to safety is all but closed to Christians and members of other minority faiths in this ravaged region.
***The US State Department’s nine major contractors (they have hundreds of subcontractors working for them if you don’t recognize these names in your cities):
- Church World Service (CWS)
- Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC) (secular)
- Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM)
- Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
- International Rescue Committee (IRC) (secular)
- US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) (secular)
- Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS)
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
- World Relief Corporation (WR)
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