NASHVILLE, Tenn. — When it comes to helping refugees, Protestant churches and their pastors are often separated by faith and fear, according to a new survey from LifeWay Research.
Most pastors say Christians should lend a hand to refugees and foreigners, and believe caring for refugees is a privilege.
But pastors say their churches are twice as likely to fear refugees as they are to help them.
“Pastors believe Scripture tells Christians to care for refugees and foreigners,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research. “Yet many admit their church is not involved in such ministry.”
The telephone survey of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors, conducted in January, was sponsored by evangelical relief agencies World Relief and World Vision.
About 20 million people worldwide—including 4 million refugees from Syria alone—are refugees, according to World Relief, which has resettled refugees for decades. The United States plans to resettle 85,000 refugees in 2016, including 10,000 from Syria, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Researchers found widespread support among pastors for the idea of helping refugees.
More than 8 in 10 (86 percent) agree Christians should “care sacrificially for refugees and foreigners.” One in 10 disagrees.
While eighty percent of pastors consider it a privilege to care for refugees, about 1 in 8 (13 percent) disagrees.
Two-thirds (67 percent) say the U.S. can balance national security interests with compassion when assisting refugees. About a quarter (28 percent) are skeptical. Six percent are not sure.
Still, researchers found few churches have taken steps to aid refugees.
One in 5 pastors (19– percent) say their church is helping refugees overseas. One in 3 (35 percent) have addressed the Syrian refugee crisis from the pulpit. More than 4 in 10 (44 percent) believe there is a sense of fear in their church about refugees coming to the United States.