By Bob Allen
A Cooperative Baptist Fellowship pastor joined faith leaders from across metropolitan Louisville, Ky., in a press conference supporting the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana and Kentucky.
Joe Phelps, pastor of Highland Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., opposed the positions of Kentucky governor-elect Matt Bevin, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and other political leaders against receiving Syrian refugees in their hour of need.
“As clergy we call upon all people of faith in Kentucky and Indiana to practice what we preach: to place our trust in God and to obey God’s clear commands found in all of our sacred texts and to join other nations in welcoming Syrian refugees,” Phelps said at the press conference organized by Kentucky Refugee Ministries.
Kentucky Refugee Ministries, a nonprofit ministry opened in 1990 that has helped resettle more than 10,000 refugees representing 45 nationalities and ethnic groups in the United States, issued a position statement Dec. 4 voicing solidarity and support for people fleeing war and brutality in Syria.
Amid backlash to accepting refugees stemming from recent acts of domestic terrorism, KRM described displaced Syrians as “not potential threats to be feared, but sisters and brothers deserving of our compassion and protection.”
Phelps said many people in faith communities share fear in the wake of recent attacks on innocent people, but fear does not excuse people of faith from doing the right thing.
“We are not cavalier about danger to innocent people,” Phelps said. “We want no person hurt or killed, but the U.S. has effective policies to ensure that it does not open its doors to terrorists.”
Overwhelmingly, Phelps said, Syrian refugees are “ordinary people caught in the crossfire between rival armies and terrorist groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda.”
“If we turn our back on those in need, the terrorists win and God’s people lose,” Phelps said.