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Trump, “Illegal” Immigrants and the Bible

Trump has said that refugees the US is receiving legally are “illegal immigrants”. He’s not the only one misusing the term though, I can’t count how many times American Christians have told me that the biblical commands to welcome and care for the stranger don’t apply to “illegal immigrants”. It’s time to stop using those words and treat everyone equally as human beings created in the image of God.

 

Why Acts 17:26 Isn’t a Defense for Nationalism

In debates with Christian nationalists and “migration critics” there’s one Bible verse that keeps popping up all the time: Acts 17:26. Many use it as a proof text for why our nations shouldn’t receive refugees and for why we should be nationalists and patriots, celebrating our own country.

As I’ve mentioned in an earlier blog post, my first book in Swedish has just been published! It’s about why Christians should welcome refugees and it has already stirred a lot of controversy among the Christian xenophobic community. Most of those who disagree with us point to Acts 17:26 as the reason for why Christians should be critical to migration. One guy even e-mailed me, providing a link which he said contains “evidence” for why I’m wrong. I clicked it and found a blog post which simply was an angry rant based on one single Bible verse: Acts 17:26.

So let’s take a look at this Bible verse and see if it really says what nationalists want it to say. I actually made a video about Acts 17:26 several months ago as I was in the midst of writing the book. I found the video on my hardrive and published it on YouTube earlier today, so you can both listen to and read my explanation to what the verse is saying. Here it is: (more…)

Why Liberal Theology Paves the Road for Nazism

Skärmavbild 2016-04-10 kl. 23.47.34

I’m a master of blog titles, am I not?

This week my first book in Swedish was released. It’s called Jesus was Also a Refugee and is co-authored with evangelical pastor Stefan Swärd. It develops a Christian perspective on the refugee crisis and the European xenophobic movement. Our conclusion is obviously that Christians should bless and welcome immigrants and refugees and not oppose migration from poor, dangerous countries to rich and safe countries.

One surprising finding is that many xenophobic and racist Christians have a liberal, or progressive, view on theology. This is very evident if you look at Nazi Germany in the 1930’s: liberal theologians like Paul Althaus and Emanuel Hirsch celebrated Hitler and hated Jews. They combined their Nazi rants with biblical criticism and despising any effort to follow the commands of Jesus as they are expressed in the New Testament.

Liberal Christians are also very prominent in the main xenophobic party of my nation, the Sweden Democrats. This party has neo-Nazi roots and try to appeal to Christian values in contrast to Muslim or socialist values. They have been working hard to gain influence in the Church of Sweden, by electing people who hold on to nationalism while also being very liberal theologically. (more…)

Song: Welcome

The World is often a hostile place, but Jesus is constantly welcoming and commands us to be hospitable. This song is written and sung by me, guitar by Andreas Lundström.

Welcome homeless people, welcome to my house
It’s warm inside and I got food and I’ll never kick you out
I’m sorry that my countrymen just let you starve and freeze
The world outside is hostile but you’re welcome to me

I bid you welcome, welcome, welcome to me
I love you and I want you here so please come to me

Welcome refugees, bring your families
Welcome to my country where there’s welfare and peace
I’m sorry that the racists promote inequality
But I will fight for your right to stay ’cause you mean a lot to me

I bid you welcome, welcome, welcome to me
I love you and I want you here so please come to me

Welcome unbelievers, welcome to our church
We offer healing, eternal life and a bunch of other stuff
We’re sorry that we Christians often behaved like piles of sh*t
But Jesus rocks and His Spirit rules so please pay us a visit

We bid you welcome, welcome, welcome to us
We love you and we want you here so please come to us

Welcome Holy Spirit, welcome to my heart
I need your power, strength and love, ‘less I’ll just fall apart
I’m sorry for my egoism and sinful lusts and deeds
I want to serve like Jesus so please, Spirit, wash me clean

I bid you welcome, welcome, welcome to me
I love you and I want you here so please come to me

Welcome my beloved, says almighty God
Welcome to my Kingdom that awaits you in the clouds
You won’t feel sorry any more when I wash away your tears
You’ll be with Me forever, no more days or months or years

I bid you welcome, welcome, welcome to me
I love you and I want you here so please come to me 

All Christians Are Refugees

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Most believers are aware of that the Bible says that we are citizens in Heaven (Phil 3:20) as well as foreigners and strangers on the earth (Hebrews 11:13). But did you know that it also says that we are refugees?

“we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.” – Hebr 6:18

The Greek word for “fled” is kataphygontes, which more explicitely means “having fled for refuge”. All Christians have fled from death, evil and sin and entered the safe refuge of the Lord.

This is also expressed earlier in the same letter: (more…)

2015: The Global Year of Xenophobia

2015 was a year I had been looking forward to. It was the year when the new, global goals of sustainable development would be established, and when the extremely important climate summit in Paris hopefully would manage the greenhouse gas threat. It was going to be a global year, and I decided to focus on simplicity, together with Bible reading and miracles, promoting community life and the value of equality.

I had not foreseen that refugees would be in focus though. Here in Sweden we had an election in 2014, and the racist party Sweden Democrats had a breakthrough with much Christian support, which made me write about the importance of welcoming and blessing back then. However, as most of you know, migration became  a hot topic as more refugees than expected entered Europe. This gave rise to yet another horrible wave of xenophobia. Meanwhile, Australia increased their fight against refugees and immigrants, and in the US we have a loud white supremacist called Donald Trump who constantly hits the headlines with his hatred  towards Mexicans and Muslims.

As Christians, we have a responsibility to stand against this Anti-gospel of hatred and preach the peaceful, welcoming and loving Kingdom of God. We should also point to the real issues on the global scale; one of the greatest ironies of this year is that white xenophobic people have argues that their rich countries can’t afford immigration. Meanwhile, the world is destroyed by white consumption and greed, as we would need three planets if everybody lived like Europeans and five if we were all like Americans.

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How Can We Worship One Refugee and Despise Another?

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José y Maria. Amazing image by Everett Patterson

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but there’s been a lot of hostility towards refugees in the minority (so called “Western”) world lately. In Europe, country after country are closing their borders and argue that they don’t have capacity and resources to welcome refugees, even though the EU is the world’s richest political entity and development countries receive 86 % of the world’s refugees. In Australia the government is pushing back boats of refugees and put refugees in horrible detention camps, and in the United States there’s a guy called Trump who wants to ban Muslims from entering the country and build a wall against Mexico.

The two latter examples are extremely confusing since the white population there are obviously descendants of immigrants themselves… I read in Bob Ekblad’s book A New Christian Manifesto recently about some Scandinavian Americans who were protesting against native Americans’ claims of land, and the Scandinavians’ argument were that they had owned that land for such a long time.

The Bible says: “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” (Lev 19:34). The Israelites had then been in Egypt for 400 years. Most American and Australian families have lived in their colonies for less than that, which means that they surely are immigrants from God’s perspective, and this Bible passage is naturally very relevant to them. They have no moral grounds for deporting immigrants when they are rich and themselves have benefited from migration. (more…)

Prophet Isaiah (700 BC): Bring Food to the Arab Refugees!

isaiah

Earlier this summer when I was preparing my lecture Jesus vs Xenohpobia, I went to my favourite Bible study site biblehub.com and searched the Scriptures for the word “refugee”. Two passages touched me in a special way, both being from prophet Isaiah’s book.

Isaiah 16:3-4 says: “Hide the fugitives, do not betray the refugees. Let the Moabite fugitives stay with you; be their shelter from the destroyer.” This is in the middle of a prophecy against Moab, that warns the kingdom for an upcoming disaster. In the previous chapter, God says: “My heart cries out over Moab; her fugitives flee as far as Zoar, as far as Eglath Shelishiyah. They go up the hill to Luhith, weeping as they go; on the road to Horonaim they lament their destruction.” (Is 15:5).

It is thus clear that even though this catastrophe is described as being the result of God’s judgment due to the idolatry of the Moabite people, He still cares for them and wants people to give them shelter from the ones who destroy them. Even people who do not worship the Lord still deserves love, care and humanitarian aid. (more…)

How to Stop the Mass Drownings in the Mediterranean

The Waters

The Mediterranean genocide is nothing new , over 25,000 people have drowned when they have tried to cross the sea to reach Europe during the last 20 years. European politicians have known about this problem for centuries, yet it is still ongoing. The reason for this is that they simply want it to be like this: they are stuck between being insanely evil or sacrificially merciful, and then they chose a deadly middle-way instead. That’s why Syrian children die in Mare Nostrum: it’s because of politics.

First of all, why do refugees die in the Mediterranean? It’s because they travel with extremely fragile boats provided by smugglers. These crooks usually demand lots of money – often around 1,000 euros and sometimes even as much as 10,000 euros. So why don’t the refugees fly with airplanes? Well, because they aren’t allowed to. As professor Hans Rosling explains in the video above, an EU directive has made sure that airlines must pay the costs of all immigrants who aren’t refugees and therefore are to be deported. Since no airline wants to take the risk of paying these costs, they simply deny all people from developing countries that don’t have a visa, entrance to their planes. And visas aren’t granted to refugees.

This is why all refugees must enter the EU illegally, on dangerous boat rides across the Mediterranean or inside trucks from Turkey to Greece. It’s illegal because there is no single way for them to enter legally. Still, since refugees must be granted asylum according to UN conventions that European countries have signed as well as EU:s own decisions, many who do enter a EU country will be granted asylum, and then suddenly become a legal immigrant. Pretty messed up system, isn’t it?

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People Aren’t Illegal in God’s Eyes

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I’ve understood that people currently talk a lot about migration in the United States; Donald Trump has brought up the issue in his presidential campaign and I have seen many Americans on social media and in the commentary section of this blog. They often express severe xenophobia, particularly towards Latin American migrants from Mexico whom they emphasize are “illegal aliens.” My very conservative friend Rick Lamascus who is a very faithful reader of this blog even though he disagrees with most of what I write, has argued:

“Controlled Immigration is not a problem. What is a problem is illegal aliens pouring across the US border. It is like poison to our schools, hospitals, and jobs.”

And:

“We have at least 30 million illegal aliens. Our schools systems are flooded and the hospital emergency rooms are flooded with illegals who pay NOTHING. Our sorry politicians are such prostitutes. They constantly pass legislation to give the illegals more and more.”

As you can see, to him “illegal” is not just something you do, it is something you are. Instead of talking about “people” or “neighbors” (which Mexicans obviously are to US Americans), Rick talks about “illegals” – as if it was a job or ethnicity.

Benjamin Corey has written a very good article on why Christians should stop talking about “illegal immigrants.” His reasons are:

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Finding Lazarus in the Calais Jungle

Lazarus Church in Calais

Lazarus Church in Calais

This post is written by Jesus Army member Joram on the Forward blog. We met Joram the other day and he told us about what he had experienced in Calais. This text expresses both the pain and hope of the refugee camp in a brilliant way, which is why I re-post it here.

“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered in sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table…” (Luke 16:19-21)

Every generation has its ‘Lazarus’: the poor, mistreated, abused, and neglected. Part of this generation’s Lazarus is the third world migrants who wash up on the shores of Europe. Their governments oppress them, abuse them, imprison them, torture them; so those that can escape head for the rich man’s gate known as Europe.

IMG_20150815_131034711_HDRWhen they wash up on the shore after unspeakable tragedy at sea, some of them head for western France to Calais and the literal gate to the rich man’s land known as the Eurotunnel.

A diaspora of refugees with families shattered and scattered across the globe, children in one country, fathers in another, mothers in another. It was never meant to be like this.

They redefine the word poor – they have smartphones, Nike trainers, mp3 players and navigate at sea using Google Maps. But only because we, in the rich man’s kingdom, are so driven by our mad consumer desire for the latest ‘thing’, we throw last year’s stuff away. But don’t be fooled by this – the real poverty is the loss of loved ones, of being stateless, homeless, jobless and friendless. The sores on the modern Lazarus are underneath his skin, too deep to be seen by the superficial glance of the citizens of the rich man’s country. (more…)

Treating Immigrants like Jesus

blessing the poor

‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Mt 25:35-40)

The New York Times has written about my little country, Sweden, and how we treat poor immigrants from Romania. It’s not a happy read:

From media reports, Expo has counted 77 attacks against beggars in the last 18 months, though charities assume such crime is underreported.

The attacks include one in Malmo, where tents in a Roma camp were set on fire; another in Boras, where a beggar was run over by a moped; and one in Skara, where at least one migrant was hit by a pellet from an air rifle.

I’m very involved in this situation; as I have shared previously I am almost daily helping poor Romanian immigrants. I have started a small organization with some friends to support them and help them to get housing and an income, and I personally know about 100 people in this situation. The hatred and racism that NY Times is reporting about is something I witness all the time, and I’ve had countless discussions with people who are convinced that these extremely poor beggars are rich, criminal liars who should be deported. (more…)

How Should Christians View Multiculturalism?

Chapel of Grace, a multicultural church in the UK

Chapel of Grace, a multicultural church in the UK

It’s very popular to speak negatively about multiculturalism in Europe these days, the idea that multiple cultures can thrive and co-exist within the same state. It’s a bit strange since most European countries are democracy, and the idea that anyone can say, believe and live the way they want is quite essential to democracy, but Germany’s Angela Merkel, Britain’s David Cameron and Denmark’s Pia Kjaersgaard have all condemned multiculturalism as something that should be prohibited (Kjaersgaard have even condemned the idea of a multiethnic society).

Since the culture these politicians are defending is labeled Christian (even though it’s rather Constantinian), and the culture that they portray as the main antagonist is islamic culture, many Christians have condemned multiculturalism in a similar fashion and argued that Muslims should be deported so that European Christianity is preserved.

The condemnation of multicultural states is also known as nationalism, the idea that each state should have one language and one culture. But is this idea Biblical? Are Christians supposed to prohibit or promote multiculturalism?

In the Old Testament, God gave laws to the Israelites that were not just moral but also cultural. the Pentateuch tells the Israelites how they should eat, dress and behave, what holidays they should have and how they should worship the Lord. These cultural laws are still being practised by Jews to this day. And while immigrants were very welcome to Israel and were treated as natives (Lev 19:33-34), they were expected to follow most of the laws. There were some exceptions, kosher food was not required for example (Deut 14:21), but in general immigrants were expected to follow the cultural laws of Israel. Not much multiculturalism there. (more…)

Billy Graham Reacts to Franklin’s Islamophobia

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As I wrote in my last blog post, I’m pretty upset about Franklin Graham’s idea about deporting all Muslim immigrants from the United States. I think it’s a plain out stupid idea, not the least from an evangelistic perspective. And Franklin’s dad happen to be one of the greatest evangelists of the Western world. So I had to make a sketch about what I imagine (or rather, hope) that Billy’s reaction to Franklin’s proposal would be like:

I talked to a sister about this yesterday and she said that she was constantly shocked every time a Christian started to argue against immigration. Because of fear and comfort almost no Western Christian dare to go as missionaries to totalitarian Muslim countries – and when Muslims then show up here, where it’s super easy for us to share the Gospel, we want to deport them!

Deportation is anti-evangelism. A person is not saved by being forcefully transported by the police to a country they fled from, it just decreases the chance for them to hear the good news about eternal life through Jesus Christ. How then can evangelist Franklin Graham propose deportation of all Muslim immigrants? My theory is that either he didn’t think much at all, or he believes that Islamic terrorism is only a problem when it’s taking place in the United States. Even though most people who are killed by terrorism are Muslims in the Middle East – those whom Franklin doesn’t want to welcome in his country.

Now, I’m not entirely sure that Billy would react in real life as he does in the video – he has had some goofy moments in his later years, such as suddenly changing opinion on Mormonism after Mitt Romney became the Republican presidential candidate. The Billy character in the video surely represents my opinion though. And as you can tell, I don’t think Franklin’s proposal is anywhere near smart.

Why the “Deport All Muslims Now” Idea is Stupid, Evil and Non-Christian

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Franklin Graham

Almost a year has passed since Charisma Magazine published the op-ed “Why I am Absolutely Islamophobic”, which argued that the United States should sterilise, deport and/or kill 100% of its Muslim deportation. The deportation part was literally labeled “D.A.M.N.”, Deport All Muslims Now – and this was written by a Christian, mind you! The article was eventually removed by Charisma after people protested against their promotion of genocide, but it’s still accessible here.

Christian support for the “D.A.M.N.” policy hasn’t ended though; recently Franklin Graham, the son of world evangelist Billy Graham, wrote on Facebook that he want to deport all Muslims due to the risk of Islamic terrorism:

“Four innocent Marines killed and three others wounded in Chattanooga yesterday including a policeman and another Marine–all by a radical Muslim whose family was allowed to immigrate to this country from Kuwait. We are under attack by Muslims at home and abroad. We should stop all immigration of Muslims to the U.S. until this threat with Islam has been settled… Let your Congressman know that we’ve got to put a stop to this and close the flood gates. Pray for the men and women who serve this nation in uniform, that God would protect them.”

As the title of this blog post suggests, I think that the extreme idea if deporting all Muslim immigrants (which a “stop all immigration of Muslims” means in practice) is stupid, evil and non-Christian. Let’s start with the evil part:

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