Column: America is not a Christian nation

“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God,” Leviticus 19: 33-34 NIV.

This is just one of many instances where fair treatment of all, no matter their race or religion, is taught within the Bible. Some have said President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration indefinitely barring Syrian refugees from entering the United States, suspending all refugee admissions for 120 days and blocking citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen), refugees or otherwise, from entering the United States for 90 days is a way of showing that a “man of God” is in the White House once again.

I am a Christian. The Bible I was raised reading does not say that we should help others unless they have beliefs that we don’t understand. It does not say that we should only accept those who look a certain way. It does not say that families should be torn apart and detained simply because of where they come from.

“Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other,” Zechariah 7:10 NIV.

Can we really just stand by and ignore those who need our help most? When I think of the photos of the children in Aleppo, in Afghanistan, in all of these war-torn areas, it breaks my heart knowing that they will now be turned away simply because their family’s religious views do not line up with the “ideal America,” an ideal that has no real foundation when looking at the actual history of this country. Everyone likes to say that we are a “Christian nation,” when in reality we are a country that is meant to promote religious freedom.

The First Amendment is one that is very near and dear to my heart, not only because of the freedoms of speech and the press, but also because of the freedom of religion. The melting pot of religions and cultures is what makes America great. We are a country built by immigrants, and we should support those who want to build a better, safer life for themselves here.

I grew up in a small town that lacked in diversity. Since coming to Marshall, I have put myself out there to learn more about other religions so that I can understand those around me. Learning about these individuals’ faiths has done nothing to damage my own. In fact, hearing their stories has only made my own faith stronger.

The Christianity I know is one of love, trust, understanding and acceptance. Our differences are what makes this world what it is. While it is true that the president needs to take actions to protect the citizens of this country, this ban is far from being the answer to our problems. If anything, it’s only going to make tensions higher than they already are following the election.

Nancy Peyton can be contacted at [email protected].