Earlier today Governor Larry Hogan of the State of Maryland issued this statement regarding Syrian refugees:
As governor of Maryland, the safety and security of Marylanders remains my first priority. Following the terrorist attacks on Paris just four days ago, and after careful consideration, I am now requesting that federal authorities cease any additional settlements of refugees from Syria in Maryland until the U.S. government can provide appropriate assurances that refugees from Syria pose no threat to public safety.
I sent this e-mail in response:
Dear Governor Hogan,
I believe that you have given ISIS exactly what they want. To deny the settlement of Syrian refugees in Maryland is to vilify and exclude the people who are fleeing from ISIS. The refugees we are turning away are people ISIS calls “apostate” and seeks to kill. To be afraid and to act according to that fear is by definition what terrorists desire their targets to do.
Yesterday, when you did not immediately join the parade of politicians who said that Syrian refugees would not be welcome in their states, I hoped that Maryland would be different. I hoped that we would truly be, as our nickname says, the “Free State.” I hoped that we would courageously live out the values of America as enshrined on the Statue of Liberty (who are more “tired and poor” than Syrian refugees?). As an American and as Christian who happens to be a pastor, I was disappointed to read today’s statement.
My opinion is rooted in my faith. I follow a Savior who was once a refugee as he fled for his life with his family to Egypt. I read a Bible which says over and over that kindness to the foreigner is one of the marks of God’s people. That Book also says that “Perfect love casts out fear.”
I hope you will reconsider your decision and lead the people of Maryland in the way of love rather than fear.
Headquartered right here in Maryland is an organization skilled in the resettlement of refugees. I suggest you contact Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service and perhaps take advantage of their expertise. I’m sure that they can tell you that since 9/11 the US has already accepted more than 2 million migrants from Muslim-majority countries, and that none of them have committed acts of terror.
I understand that the responsibility you have as governor, which includes public safety, is tremendous. But absolute safety, freedom from every risk, is an illusion. Is there a risk to accepting refugees from Syria? Of course there is. Freedom is always risky. Compassion is never completely safe. But freedom and compassion are values worth living. While refugees are carefully vetted, we will never welcome any if the standard in your statement – “no risk to public safety” – is insisted upon. That is an unattainable standard for refugees or any group of people.
Governor, the courage you have shown in publicly dealing with your illness has helped give hope and strength to many. Praise God for your cancer-free status and for the skills of medical professionals. I believe this is another opportunity to be a leader who engenders hope rather than fear, and who sets an example of courageous leadership by doing what is right even when it is not clearly as popular.
Thank you for your service to our state.
NOTES: I sent this e-mail to the governor as a citizen of Maryland, not as pastor of or on behalf of my church. This is not the “official” position of my church or denomination.
Some edits not affecting the message were made in the e-mail sent to the governor because of a word limit on the state e-mail system.
If you would like to e-mail Governor Hogan, click here.