WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump has tried to garner support for his policies on barring refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries by arguing that they will allow him to refocus U.S. efforts on people who have the greatest need ― specifically, Christian refugees fleeing violence in the Middle East.
But Christian leaders at home and abroad aren’t buying his claim.
European parliamentarian Lars Adaktusson ― who attended the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday and listened to Trump speak about Christians being beheaded by the self-described Islamic State ― told The Huffington Post that the new U.S. policies are troubling.
“There’s obviously quite big differences right now between ourselves and this administration,” Adaktusson said, noting that his home country of Sweden has a tradition of being generous toward outsiders fleeing harm ― without discriminating on the basis of their religion. As a member of the Christian Democrats party in Sweden, he played a central role in pushing Europe to designate ISIS’s assault on Christians and other religious minorities as a genocide.
Steve Oshana, the executive director of Christian advocacy group A Demand for Action, pointed out that Trump’s executive order has already resulted in Christians being sent away from the U.S.
Trump has said the U.S. will take in just 50,000 refugees annually, down from the 110,000 former President Barack Obama said the U.S. would accept in 2017. Christians in the Obama era were already receiving a significant proportion of the refugee visas reserved for Iraq ― so, Oshana said, Trump lowering the overall number of refugees allowed in the U.S. also reduces the number of Christians who can seek refuge here.
“While we welcome the president’s rhetoric saying he is going to help Christians, this ban, in effect, is hurting them,” he said.
Watch a clip above and the full interview here.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article said the U.S. took in 110,000 refugees under Obama each year. That is the number of refugees Obama said the U.S. would accept in 2017.