Many Christian churches in U.S. want to help refugees but fear doing so — survey

Refugees walk along a beach before trying to travel to the Greek island of Chios from the western Turkish coastal town of Cesme, in Izmir province, Turkey, on March 5, 2016.Reuters

A new survey indicated that many Christian churches in the United States are more than willing to lend a helping hand on refugees but at the same time are afraid to risk engaging them.

The telephone survey of about 1, 000 Protestant pastors conducted by LifeWay Research showed that 44 percent of church congregations have "a sense of fear about global refugees coming to the United States.''

By contrast, only 27 percent of the church congregations have gotten themselves involved in helping the refugees.

Although 98 percent of the pastors said they are "at least somewhat informed about the Syrian refugee crisis,'' just 35 percent have addressed the issue from the pulpit.

The survey showed that the respondents mostly agree that "Christians have a responsibility to care sacrificially for the refugees and foreigners'' with more than eight in 10 (86 percent) agreeing on the matter, according to the report.

But the survey showed some disconnect in agreeing that churches need to do more. One in five pastors in the U.S. said their church is helping refugees overseas and one in three have addressed the Syrian refugee crisis from the pulpit.

Only 8 percent of the pastors consider it a privilege to care for refugees.

The survey sponsored by the humanitarian organisations World Relief and World Vision last January also indicated that two-thirds (67 percent) of the respondents believe that the United States can balance national security interests with compassion when assisting refugees. About 28 percent are sceptical. Six percent said they are not sure.

There are some 20 million refugees in the world, including 4 million from Syria, according to World Relief reports.

ISIS spreading like cancer, says NATO official

As fear arises among Christian churches, a NATO official is warning that the Islamic State (ISIS) is spreading like cancer among refugees.

"Refugees from the Middle East and north Africa are masking the movement'' of terrorists and criminals,'' U.S. Gen. Philip Breedlove said in testimony to the Senate armed services committee.

He cautioned that the ISIS is "taking advantage of paths of least resistance, threatening European nations and our own.''

Earlier, the ISIS has boasted to flood Europe with as many as 500,000 refugees. Just recently in Lebanon, the education minister disclosed there were 20,000 jihadis among the refugees in camps, and 80 percent of migrants who recently arrived in Europe claiming to be fleeing the war in Syria turned out not to have come from Syria at all.

An ISIS operative has been quoted by some papers as saying that the reason many are claiming to be Syrians and streaming into Europe and to the U.S. was because they have a purpose.

"It's our dream that there should be a caliphate not only in Syria but in all the world, and we will have it soon, inshallah. These Muslims were going to Europe in the service of that caliphate. They are going like refugees... but they were going with the plan of sowing blood and mayhem on European streets,'' the ISIS agent reportedly said.

Moreover, Breedlove also blamed Russia's bombing campaign in Syria in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for having "wildly exacerbated the problem.''