Christian leaders have spoken out in response to President Donald Trump’s expanded travel ban that went into effect last Friday, expressing concern over its impact on countries where religious persecution is severe.
Shortly after taking office in 2017, Trump came under intense scrutiny when he signed an executive order restricting immigration from six Muslim-majority countries that fail to meet “minimum security and information-sharing requirements.”
But an amended order signed by Trump on Jan. 31 adds four African countries as well as Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar to a travel restriction list that already includes Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela and North Korea.
Under the amended policy, immigrant visas are suspended for Nigeria, Myanmar, Eritrea and Kyrgyzstan. Those from Sudan and Tanzania will not be considered for the U.S. diversity visa program. The new restrictions will not apply to tourists, businesses or other nonimmigrant travel.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, the new restrictions are tailored to “country-specific deficiencies” and travel-related risks due to the “countries’ unwillingness or inability to adhere to our identity management, information sharing, national security, and public safety assessment criteria.”
As the Trump administration has been accused of anti-Muslim animus in the past, the DHS asserts that the “restrictions do not reflect animus or bias against any particular country, region, ethnicity, race, or religion.”
While those on the political left have long been vocal in their opposition to the travel restrictions, the expansion of the policy drew responses from some Christian leaders who have been supportive of the Trump administration’s push to promote international religious freedom.
This includes David Curry, president of Open Doors USA, a global persecution watchdog organization active in over 60 countries. Six of the 13 countries included on the travel ban list are listed on Open Doors USA’s 2020 World Watch List of the 50 worst countries in the world when it comes to Christian persecution. Eritrea is ranked No. 6, while Nigeria is ranked No. 12 and Myanmar is ranked No. 19.
“Though I recognize there is an important discussion on how to best deal with terrorists who are present dangers to free societies, we must never restrict based on religious identification,” Curry said in a statement shared with The Christian Post. “It’s up to us to exemplify religious tolerance and freedom on a daily basis. To the degree we have failed in the past, let’s never fail to fix the wrong and to keep raising the level of freedom.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith