Jesus supports the refugee ban because heaven involves “extreme vetting”

On February 8th, Franklin Graham, the son of renowned pastor Billy Graham, wrote on his Facebook page, “I’m on my way to Puerto Rico – to remind people that God uses extreme vetting.”

This post echoed a sentiment expressed not too long ago by Bryan Fischer, a Religious Right leader, when he said, “Isn’t Jesus or God the Father doing some extreme vetting on who He’s allowing to spend eternity with him and who is not?”

Graham and Fischer are using the Bible to justify their approval of Trump’s refugee ban. This “extreme vetting” that determines who is and is not allowed through the Pearly Gates somehow implies that Jesus would approve of restricting immigration.


I’ve had experience with two radically different Christianties: the all-inclusive kind that says the gospel is good news for everyone, and the ultra-exclusive, Graham-Fischer variety that treats the gospel like American Idol: many will audition, but few will make the cut.

Fundamentalists like Graham make it pretty clear that being a Christian isn’t simply about professing faith in Jesus Christ. Graham’s “vetting process” filters out Christians with varying opinions on politics and social issues, many of which the Bible doesn’t directly address. For a man who insists that works won’t get you into heaven, his social media posts suggest the opposite – that True Christianity means checking off the Republican box, the anti-Planned Parenthood box, the literal six-day creation box, and more.

Graham’s “good news” is anything but to people with the misfortune of being born into non-Christian families and countries. His “good news” is anything but to people with life experiences that color certain issues in shades of grey, rather than black and white.

If the gospel is truly “good news,” it must err on the side of inclusivity. It must be designed so more people get into heaven than not (though we may be shocked by who is “let in” and who is missing). I wouldn’t say it’s unimportant to have correct theology (whatever that is), but it isn’t everything.

If God’s vetting process looks anything like Graham’s, then the entire system is rigged, and designed to hurt more people than it helps. Coincidentally, that sort of god looks a lot like Donald Trump – and that is not a god worthy of worship.


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6 thoughts on “Jesus supports the refugee ban because heaven involves “extreme vetting”

  1. Pingback: Am I that intolerant liberal that conservatives warned you about? – Sarahbeth Caplin

  2. I grew up in a Fundamentalist church that preaches a lot of what Graham believes. Basically it was “accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior” to get in, though we were taught he could erase your name from the book of life. We were threatened with hell to keep us in line (with me, when I confided in a parishioner instead of in leadership, to get me to tell them what I told her), but were told that Jesus weeps over having to send people to hell.

    I stopped believing in hell a long time ago, when I read JW’s case for annihilation, and I have started looking into universalism. (Our church once played a preacher say that when he was younger, a number of people started claiming God told them everyone would be saved. He claimed God told him that without hell there is no motivation for good behavior. I wondered what’s wrong with good behavior being intrinsically motivating, and also noticed that many bad things done in the name of God were done by believers in hellfire.)

    Basically the church I grew up in sees universalism as deception. (Look what happened to Carlton Pearson and Rob Bell.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Someone needs to point Franklin Graham (and a legion of others) in the direction of the Old Testament. In Micah 6:8, it says “What doth the Lord require of thee but to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God?”. That lets in a whale of a lot more people than these so-called Christians are willing to admit.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. How Franklin Graham ended up being such a know-nothing compared to his father is profoundly gobsmacking. I shake my head pretty much every time he opens his mouth.

    I think God is far less interested in correct theology (and not at all in human political agendas) than he is in a contrite heart. He comes much more than halfway to meet us, because his only agenda is to find his lost children, wherever they are.

    Good post.

    Liked by 4 people

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