North American Division President Authors HuffPo Op-Ed on Welcoming Refugees

Daniel R. Jackson, president of the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists, has authored an opinion piece for the Huffington Post arguing that the United States must open the door to refugees from war-torn countries like Syria. In the piece, "Adventists Respond to the Call to Care for Refugees," Elder Jackson makes the case that Scripture demands justice for strangers and foreigners seeking refuge.

To close the door to refugees cannot be an option. To "welcome" them by marking them with shame and suspicion is unacceptable. To incite fear based on prejudice is irresponsible. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are compelled to welcome ALL who are seeking refuge.

Jackson, who in the piece calls himself "a stranger in your land" (Jackson is Canadian, but lives and works in Maryland), says that he came to the United States not seeking refuge, but to lead the Adventist Church in North America‚ÄĒa church made strong by its diversity. Likewise, Jackson says, it is America's rich diversity that makes it a great nation.

He cites Adventist aid efforts, including ADRA's 25 tons of relief supplies in Macedonia for Syrian refugees, and Refugee Ministries in the United States that help provide resources for those emigrating from Iraq and Syria, among other places. But the essay is not simply a litany of Adventist accomplishments, it is personal.

I have seen the plight of the displaced first hand. In 2008, my wife and I traveled to Nakuru, Kenya to volunteer in a camp that housed some 16,000 of the nearly 600,000 people displaced internally by the deadly violence that followed disputed elections. We provided assistance to mothers and their newborn babies. We spoke to many who shared stories of fear and spoke of their desperate struggle to survive--people looking for a better life.

Jackson quotes the words of Emma Lazarus in her poem New Colossus, the words of which are engraved in America's Statue of Liberty:

"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

He argues that some American leaders would close that golden door to Syrians and Iraqis, but those leaders' fear-mongering voices must not win the day. While the Adventist Church unequivocally condemns sectarian and terrorist violence, "to deny innocent women, children, and men who are fleeing war, hunger, and disease refuge because of fear and prejudice is just as wrong."

Denouncing the rhetoric of hate and fear, Jackson implores people of faith and the leaders of the United States to leave open that golden door to the most vulnerable and in need among us.

Read the full essay here.

Jared Wright is Managing Editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7230
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Cheers to Dan Jackson! He has hit the nail square on.

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Uh…Really?

Probably not Tony…however, in what way is the statement valid?

There is the issue of
Being Humanitarian to those who would like a quiet, safe place to live and raise their family
AND
Protecting the American citizens [like those near Loma Linda recently] from Muslim Terrorists who would infiltrate the peaceful refugee group and would like to cause death and destruction to American cities and citizens once they were welcomed in with the peaceful refugees. And who like at the Boston Marathon would place a bomb next to a child.

The real question is HOW Do We Do That?

EDIT-- How about the REFUGEES in the Seventh day Adventists church?
Why is Pastor Dan NOT taking a decided statement on the INCLUSION of Women in the WHOLE Church, and NOT just a courtesy of letting them just sit in a pew?
WHY is Pastor Dan NOT challenging the WHOLE CHURCH to be All Inclusive, ALL WELCOMING to those who love God?
THESE issues are more important than just telling the US, Canada, Europe, Australia to accept Refugees.
Accepting Refugees is good. But The SDA church policies are just or more restrictive than the Political activity of the nation he is speaking about.
WHY is Pastor Dan afraid to speak against wrong policies, wrong votes promoted by Silver Springs and SA2015?

Apparently Dan Jackson thinks Ben Carson‚Äôs opinions are ‚Äúrhetoric of hate and fear‚ÄĚ. Ben‚Äôs been in the Syrian refugee camps and has a different opinion about how to deal with refugees. Obviously Dan doesn‚Äôt speak for all Adventists.

Dan Jackson has expressed very nicely where I believe Christians, if they are true followers of Jesus, would stand on this issue. All the prophets of the OT are also in support of this approach. Amen!

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It is interesting to note that the fundamentalist online missives have nothing to stay about current affairs. They have no hope or legitimate perspectives to share on real life issues. It is always good to see Spectrum leading the charge in open journalism and providing forums and opinions on Christian hope for a failed world.

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What I especially appreciate about Dan Jackson’s elegant statement is that it is non-partisan.

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Fear mongering? Really? Tell it to my kids at LLU in the ER.

These leaders are those who ‚Äútie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people‚Äôs shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger.‚ÄĚ They‚Äôre the ones who say all the right words while failing to act. ‚ÄúThey say ‚Äėpeace, peace!‚Äô where there is no peace.‚ÄĚ They dress the wound of our people as if it were not serious. - See more at: https://sojo.net/articles/jesus-was-prayer-shamer#sthash.UaqkFDjf.jxAYj0hl.dpuf

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Isis is known to infiltrate terror cells in those syrian refugees. I wonder what Jacksons response would be on this topic if some of those syrian Refugees walked into an adventist church in a few years and shot up the congregation killing dozens. What will have have to say then. Where are there neighbors doing to help. Jordon and Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Not hearing they are doing anything. Jackson does not speak for most of the church who I am sure are not so certain. Not in my neighborhood many are saying I am certain.

Jackson is speaking from his native Canadian perspective.Up here we just got rid of a right wing fear mongering government who would have us believe that there are terrorists behind every niqab.

Not saying the Canadians have pure hands but we are going to stop bombing in Moslem countries and are spending millions to bring refugees here beginning today.

Jesus in His childhood was a refugee finding safety in Egypt when the government of his native land sought to kill him.Interesting it was not God’s chosen people that enabled the process of salvation for all mankind.Interesting too that the country that enslaved Jesus’s ancestors was the same country that provided Him protection in His hour of need.

One of life’s little ironies.

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Would be an even better statement if something about the Constitutiional problems and dangers involved in comments like Trump has made recently. This isn’t simply over fear mongering and attacks on a particular religion or race in the idea of being unkind, or unChistian, but a blatant affront to our Constitutional principles. Those go and our nation is REALLY in trouble. Our church should be speaking to that as well, if not more so.

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a timely, cogent, Christian statement. As a medic, I treated wounded Japanese the same as Anerican wounded. War is the invention of those who don’t have to fight and die. Tom Z

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In taking a public stand on the refugee crisis Dan Jackson is showing courage. Courage is required to act on our deepest values and beliefs. It takes courage to live and lead as whole-headed and whole-hearted men and women. It takes courage to take off our game face and wear our own. But unfortunately, there are no skills that empower us to show up as true self, state our positions on important issues clearly and honestly, walk our talk when the heat is on, to say ‚Äúno‚ÄĚ when we mean ‚Äúno.‚ÄĚ In fact, there is nothing ‚Äúout there‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒno tips or techniques that can provide us the courage we need. Instead, courage comes from within; it comes when our leadership is grounded in our true self. It comes when we assume responsibility for authoring our own lives. It comes when being authentic is more important than being safe and secure.
This is the time in many Adventist churches when we nominate and elect local leaders. As we choose local persons, men and women as church leaders, are we looking for authenticity more than orthodoxy? Authenticity is one of the keys to leadership effectiveness. We want realness in our church leaders We yearn for leaders who are themselves rather than a replica of someone else. We want leaders who will be fully human with us, men and women who are vulnerable enough to acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses, their gifts and limits, and who are appropriately transparent about their hopes and fears, their motivations and their agendas. We trust leaders who are real, who walk their talk, who act on their core values, and who tell us the truth. We authorize others to lead who author their own life. Those we deem not trustworthy we don’t authorize to lead.

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Great statement indeed!
I like Pastor Jackson, he is a great leader.

Now I hope he will soon make a loud and clear statement about receiving women in our Church in terms of equality with men. For some reason I feel that he was cornered by Ted Wilson and just became so quiet about Women Ordination .

Come on Pastor Jackson, resume your fight to eliminate discrimination of women in the Church in North America!!!

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So far, after 16 hours only 13 visitors here have linked to the article itself. I found it well worth the read, and is about the same length as Jared’s report here. Jared reports well, and there really is no report that can come close to the original.

Sure one might quibble if they tried, and some here have tried, but there truly is nothing worth quibbling about. Every point is deeply rooted in Christian faith. I’m happy to share a link to Elder Jackson’s article with anyone I know … or don’t know.

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on the whole, i find dan jackson’s op-ed piece profoundly regrettable…it is one thing for a person in dan’s position to cite scripture to an adventist audience in order to galvanize opinion and prompt action…but to do so to a wider audience is essentially inflicting our religion onto others…it is suggesting that the bible must become normative in a democratic society which we know will use this same approach against us in the future…

but on the subject of syrian refugees itself, donald trump and his followers have a legitimate fear, which is that current screening procedures cannot guarantee the identification of radical islamic elements within any refugee stream…his point is not that refugees shouldn’t be assisted…his point is that they shouldn’t be allowed to immigrate until effective screening mechanisms can be developed and put in place…it is irresponsible to minimize this concern…

from a geopolitical standpoint, the current syrian refugee crisis is arguably a direct result of misguided american policy which deliberately took out saddam hussein on the basis of faulty intelligence, leaving in its wake massive instability that has now spread to syria, and, as some affirm, fertilized the spawn and growth of ISIS…taking in every refugee indiscriminately when we have evidence ISIS is insinuating itself into the refugee stream is not a substitute for a comprehensive foreign policy that has teeth, i.e., boots on the ground, and a clear leadership role…i truly hope america’s next president will correctly perceive that leading from behind is actually ceding all leadership - it is throwing marbles randomly into the air, and hoping for an organized landing…

EDIT:

tony, if you read dan’s op-ed carefully, as i’m sure you have, you’ll notice he’s equating christianity with americanism…he’s speaking to americans as if they’re all christians…he’s assuming america’s founding principles were christian, and that this gives him the right to appeal to all americans to be guided by its principles…what’s ironic is his non-recognition that millions of muslims are as american as the christians he’s normalizing america as…that is, he’s essentially appealing to america to welcome muslims into their midst by ignoring the muslim reality of 6.7 million indigenous muslims…this is the same basic mistake some whites make when they think they’re being generous to blacks by minimizing or ignoring their blackness…it’s offensive…it’s condescension at its worst…

EDIT:

what i mean is this: dan is assuming america’s christian-influenced founding principles gives him the right to use christianity as an agreed to assumption that even non-christian americans, like its 6.7 million muslims, must accede to…dan’s fundamental faux pas, in my view, is not his appeal to christians…he is, after-all, posting his op-ed under the category of religion in the huffington post, and as president of nad, he represents a significant segment of american christianity…where he is crossing the line is his failure to recognize that there are millions of non-christian americans who are as american as christian americans…this is also the problem the tea party, and other elements of the republican party, routinely lapse into…it may be true that america’s founding principles were compatible with christianity, but some of its founders, like thomas paine, are descibed by egw as satanic:

‚ÄúSatan dictated much of Paine‚Äôs writings, and it is an easy thing for him to dictate sentiments through his angels now, and make it appear that they come through Thomas Paine.‚ÄĚ EW:265.

this in itself means america cannot be considered christian…but the greater, current reality is that large swathes of americans do not subscribe to christianity in any form…besides 6.7 million muslims, there are hindu, buddhist and millions of atheist and even satanist americans, who are as american as its dwindling protestant and catholic american populations…it is inappropriate to use the bible, a strictly christian resource, as a source of authority for a national policy…had dan made it clear that he was addressing his comments to the narrow segment of america known as christian america, that would be one thing…but his appeal forces everyone to think of themselves, not only as americans, but as christians…this is the problem…

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Go over to the Lounge to see the Southeastern California pastor who is demonstrating courage in giving help to the refugees offering food, clothing, aid in finding housing, teaching them English and giving them the necessary skills to assimilate into their communities.

This is the greatest insurance against ISIS recruiting in the U.S.: making friends by demonstrating help as Christ advocated in Matt. 25.
This is the Christian’s response; those who would turn them away are not living the Gospel; talk is meaningless and fosters more fears. Why are Christians so fearful of their fellow humans? The Good Samaritan took a chance the pious rulers refused to show.

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This issue is just not so simple as ‚Äúprejudice‚ÄĚ against Syrians and Iraqis.

The President mocked Republicans as fearful of women and children, and his mocking just shows his unwillingness or inability to see how others may see an issue.

Republicans are not afraid of women and children, but of terrorists that a blanket amnesty would bring into the county. It is a safety issue, not a prejudice one. And I don’t see that the processes so far adapted cannot be fooled by a resourceful terrorists.

And Obama’s foreign policy missteps have at least partial brought on this crisis, something he is loathe, and almost unable to admit. It is always the other that is mistaken.

TonyR mentions the risk taken by the Good Samaritan. That was a personal risk, and not really applicable to a nation. Think about what that would mean.

And besides that, I find it unuseful for the NAD president to get into politics like this. We are not doing ourselves any favors by such a stance.

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My thoughts:

  1. I entirely agree personally with the sentiments expressed by the NAD President.
  2. Not entirely sure it’s appropriate for the NAD President, in his official position to take a stand on behalf of the church on this issue in a political manner. We do have a policy of separation of church and state and this skirts pretty close to that line.
  3. I don’t think Ted Wilson will like this.
  4. As is evidenced by the commenters on Spectrum, not all in the church agree.