A strong majority (86 percent) of U.S. Protestant pastors affirm that Christians are called to “care sacrificially for refugees and foreigners,” and 98 percent said they were “at least somewhat informed” about the Syrian refugee crisis.
Yet, only 27 percent of these pastors said their churches were involved in helping refugees and 46 percent said their congregations feared refugees coming to the U.S., according to a LifeWay Research survey.
Richard Stearns, president of World Vision, said, “It’s encouraging to see the American church understands God’s call to serve and care for refugees and foreigners, but what’s needed now is action. This is a test of the relevance of the church in our world.”
Seventy-two percent said their congregations had not discussed local responses, and 63 percent hadn’t engaged in conversation about international responses.
Action at the international level had taken place in 19 percent of churches, compared to 8 percent when it came to domestic initiatives.
When asked about their churches’ desire to get involved, 10 percent of pastors said that they wanted to help at the international level and 9 percent noted interest in helping refugees within the U.S.
Responses varied by denomination.
Presbyterians (96 percent), Lutherans and Methodists (85 percent) said caring for refugees was a privilege, compared to 77 percent of Baptists and 68 percent of Pentecostals.
Baptists (56 percent) were most likely to affirm church fear of refugees arriving in the U.S., compared to Pentecostals (50 percent), Lutherans (33 percent) and Presbyterians (29 percent).
“When it comes to helping refugees, Protestant churches and their pastors are often separated by faith and fear,” LifeWay noted. “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.”
The full survey results are available here.