Evangelical leaders, including at least one from each state, reportedly purchased a full-page newspaper advertisement to denounce President Donald Trump's temporary ban on refugees, urging him to reconsider his Jan. 27 executive order and instead welcome people fleeing persecution and violence. The ad, which is slated to run in The Washington Post, is signed by 100 prominent evangelical pastors and authors, and is addressed to Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
According to CNN sources, signees of the ad include Pastor Timothy Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, Christian author Ann Voskamp, Bill and Lynne Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church, preacher and author Max Lucado, Pastor Eugene Cho of Quest Church and Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals.
CNN reporters stated they obtained an early copy of the advertisement, which appears in the name of World Relief, an evangelical relief organization that has resettled thousands of refugees in the United States. In addition to the leaders who signed the print ad, hundreds more have endorsed its message online, said Scott Arbeiter, World Relief's President.
"As Christian pastors and leaders, we are deeply concerned by the recently announced moratorium on refugee resettlement," the evangelicals' advertisement says. "As Christians, we have a historic call expressed over two thousand years, to serve the suffering. We cannot abandon this call now."
One signee from Thursday morning said he signed the petition to join @worldrelief and church leaders to stand with refugees because "Our citizenship is in heaven, and we follow the commands of our Lord."
Evangelicals associated with the ad/petition state they acknowledge the government's "crucial role" in keeping the country safe and setting the terms on refugee resettlement. But Trump's executive order, they said, fails to strike the right balance between compassion and security. Meanwhile, innocent people are suffering, even as Christian ministries in the United States stand ready to help.
"While we are eager to welcome persecuted Christians, we also welcome vulnerable Muslims and people of other faiths or no faith at all. This executive order dramatically reduces the overall number of refugees allowed this year, robbing families of hope and a future. And it could well cost them their lives."
A few evangelical leaders, who backed Trump during last year's presidential campaign, are supporting the ban: Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition; Franklin Graham of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; and the Rev. Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church in Dallas.
More than half of white evangelicals (54 percent) and white mainline Protestants (53 percent) would support a law barring Syrian refugees from entering the United States, according to a survey conducted in June by the Public Religion Research Institute. A majority of those same groups, as well as a slight majority of white Catholics (52 percent), also endorse a temporary ban on Muslims coming to the United States from abroad, the survey found.
Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College in Illinois, and a signatory to the evangelical advertisement, said the ad reflected "key evangelical leaders, with names recognizable to most evangelicals."
"My hope is that it causes them to ask what the real facts are -- and that we can have (and have had) both security and compassion," he said. "I think many will notice the names (on the advertisement) and give this another look."