Dr. Randy White
Donald Trump has said that if he were president he would initiate a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslim travel into the United States, “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.(1)” Southern Baptist behavior-guru Russell Moore responded that, “Anyone who cares an iota about religious liberty should denounce this reckless, demagogic rhetoric.” (2)
I care about religious liberty, and I am not a Trump supporter, but I am also not going to denounce the remarks as reckless and demagogic. Here’s why:
First, we have three branches of government. If such a ban ever actually took place, it would only be with the support of the Congress and the courts. In such a case, there would likely be overwhelming circumstances to merit such drastic action.
Second, such action would not be entirely unprecedented. The United States has always banned those from enemy states from travel to and from the USA. Russians could not come during the Cold War. Cubans could not come until this year. Iranians could not come during the hostage crisis (which should have ended in weeks, not 444 days). Japanese could not come during WWII, and if they were already here they were put into internment camps, even though the majority of them were US citizens. In that same war, there was a “religion test” that barred the entry of Jews into our land, under the guise that there might be a Nazi spy.
Today, the threat to national security goes far beyond enemy states to an enemy religion which is trying to become a single state (and has already created a pseudo-Islamic state). A citizenship test is becoming more and more useless in the effort to keep terrorists out.
But the debate in Christian circles, especially Baptist circles, has to do with religious liberty. Even though I am a staunch believer in religious liberty, and I would fight for and die for the protection of the First Amendment, I still would have to say that it is not government’s Biblical role to provide religious liberty. In fact, you will search the Scriptures in vain to find any support for the government’s role in religious liberty. Such liberties and their protection are something a civilized society would want to maintain, not necessarily a God-given right nor a governmental responsibility, although the protection of such liberties is consistent with the Biblical truth regarding the importance of each individual soul and conscience.
Government does have a responsibility to keep its citizens alive, however. Perceived threats to the security of our citizens should be investigated and addressed quickly and strenuously. Only then can the society build a free community for people of all religious persuasions.
The truth is that there is an easy and obvious profile of a terrorist, one that a fourth grader can figure out. The profile involves a religion. Virtually all terrorism is from Muslims. If Baptists are going to cry a religious liberty foul every time a Muslim is profiled, questioned and maybe even forbidden entry, then there will just be more dead Baptists. This seems a strange way to honor religious liberty.
Will I denounce Trump because he might prohibit Muslim entrance into US borders? No. Our Constitution does not guarantee any rights to non-citizens, for one. It also does not guarantee any travel rights, even for its citizens. If the government tries to prohibit my freedom of religion or speech, I will resist using every legitimate and available means. I would – staunchly defend any citizen who was trying to conduct worship that did not harm people or property. But I will not allow anyone—Baptist, Jew or Muslim—to hide behind the “worship cloak” to find freedoms to kill my neighbors and terrorize my country.
I believe that only strength of rhetoric along with swift and unmistakable action is going to keep us safe from the expansionist Muslim campaign that has already taken over most of the Middle East, much of Europe, the majority of north Africa and huge portions of Asia, and is making inroads into Canada, South America and the USA. The “bleeding heart” liberalism of most of the church will only lead to literal blood in our streets.
In short, I have plenty of reasons why I am not a Trump advocate, but this is not one of them.
(1) <http://www.wsj.com/articles/donald-trump-calls-for-ban-on-muslim-entry-into-u-s-1449526104>; Internet; accessed 9 Dec. 2015.
(2) <https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/12/07/russell-moore-people-who-care-an-iota-about-religious-liberty-should-denounce-donald-trump/>; Internet; accessed 9 Dec. 2015.