John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


They Do Have to Live Like Refugees

Posted on November 18, 2015

It was Tom Petty who sang, “You see you don't have to live like a refugee (don't have to live like a refugee).”

Unfortunately, for millions of people who live across the globe, they do have to live like a refugee.

They live like refugees because they are refugees, escaping mostly war, but often natural disasters or other breakdowns in civilized society.

Refugee is a French word by origin, and it initially described the flight of French Huguenots from religious persecution after the Louis the XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes.

For those who don’t remember (and I didn’t until I looked it up), the Edict of Nantes was an effort to end France’s religious wars. It wasn’t Christian vs. Islam back then. It was Catholic vs. Protestant, and the mostly Catholic French didn’t appreciate the fact that some of their countrymen were inspired enough by Martin Luther and other heretics to leave the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

The wars within France eventually spilled out to wider religious wars between the French and Spanish vs. the English.

America was founded by folks attempting to flee religious persecution and next week, when we celebrate our Thanksgiving holiday, we are basically celebrating the first American refugees.

So, it’s all the more ironic that it was terrorist attacks in France that caused widespread panic here in the United States towards Syrian refugees.

Catholics (and I am Catholic) like to say that St. Peter founded the Catholic Church. The same could be said by Syrian Orthodox Christians, whose Church in Antioch definitely featured a lot of St. Peter.

It is those Christians who have the most to lose with the downfall of Bashir Assad, which makes our policy towards the Assad regime seemingly anti-Christian.

It might seem strange that most of the refugees who have made their way to America from the strife in Syria are not Christian at all, but rather Muslim. But Syrian Christians are a hardy lot, and frankly, they aren’t that interested in leaving their ancient homeland.

Will the refugees who come to America from this war-torn region start setting off bombs and attacking American soft-targets? Are they the initial wave of jihadis who are dead-set on establishing Sharia law and otherwise taking steps to subjugate women and stop the rampant digestion of bacon that is so prevalent in the land of decadence and pornography?

I doubt it.

If that were the case, the leading proponents of accepting these refugees wouldn’t be the leading Christian denominations in America?

Why would the Christian Church writ large agree to bring in a bunch of people who are dedicating mostly to putting Christians to the sword?

It makes no sense.

I understand why politicians are reacting the way they are reacting. They mostly reflect the fears and the desires of their constituents. Most political leaders aren’t thinking about the long-term moral ramifications of their political decisions. They are thinking about the next election, or in the case of a Presidential primary, the next primary.

It’s for the people to tell the politicians what they should do next.

The Paris terrorist attacks were very, very bad and the American people are rightly concerned about their own safety. ISIS hates us every bit as much as they hate the French. And we are a nation of soft targets.

But we are also a nation of stiff resolve and usually sound judgment.

We should be sensible about who let in this country, but we should also be welcoming to those refugees who are in need of our help.

When America turns its back on those in need, the rest of the world takes notice because it happens so rarely.

Our history demands that we be a refuge for those escaping religious persecution. We should do no less.

We don’t have to live like refugees, but plenty of other people unfortunately have no choice. It’s the only way they can survive.  We shouldn't turn our backs on them.