South Carolina Senator state Kevin Bryant exposes ‘church’ refugee resettlement agencies as federal contractors with no special religious freedom protections for the agency itself. “My role in the government is to protect South Carolinians.”
Most of you are probably aware that a bill is working its way through the South Carolina legislature that would put responsibility on those agencies which resettle refugees for acts of a criminal nature that might be perpetrated by refugees they place in the state.
Mother Jones (of course) takes a whack at the “anti-refugee” bill, but in the course of reporting on it, they inadvertently allow a State Senator to scoff at one of the most important arguments ‘religious’ resettlement contractors use to promote their role (as middlemen) in the UN/US State Department Refugee Admissions Program—that they do it out of religious conviction and not as paid federal contractors.
To set the stage, here are some of the opening paragraphs, emphasis is mine (hat tip: Joanne):
A South Carolina bill that would create a registry of refugees and would hold their sponsors liable for any crimes they commit has sparked a debate over religious liberty in South Carolina.
The bill, which would require all recently resettled refugees to register with local law enforcement, would also hold each refugee’s sponsors liable if he or she commits a violent crime or an act of terrorism. “We are protecting South Carolina citizens’ safety,” State Senator Kevin Bryant, one of the bill’s lead sponsors, told members of the local press. “And if we have to do something that would de-incentivize the sponsoring of refugees, well, we’ve got to choose our own citizens over those that are not citizens of this country.”
The contracting agencies say the bill violates their religious freedom:
Some religious groups have denounced the bill as a violation of their First Amendment freedoms because it infringes their belief in caring for those in need. “We’re a Christian organization,” says Ted Goins, the president of Lutheran Services Carolinas, one of the state’s two main sponsors of refugee resettlement. “We get our marching orders from a Biblical perspective [as if there is no government cash involved!—ed]. It says we’re to love our neighbors as ourselves. Refugees are our neighbors.” [A bit of irony here as several “Lutheran” agencies around the country have dropped the word Lutheran from their names, see Michigan earlier this month.—ed]
As the anti-refugee bill makes its way through the legislature, more religious leaders have publicly condemned it. A coalition of bishops from four different denominations sent a joint letter to Gov. Haley and lawmakers criticizing it.
Blah, blah, blah from the coalition of bishops, then see what Senator Bryant said. But first know that the US State Department strictly forbids any of its contractors (Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals, Jews and Lutherans) from proselytizing! Go here to see what duties the contractors must perform in order to be paid for their work (or have their contract yanked). This is just one small portion of the State Department rules:
The Department of State has cooperative agreements with nine domestic resettlement agencies to resettle refugees. While some of the agencies have religious affiliations, they are not allowed to proselytize. The standard cooperative agreement between the Department of State and each of the domestic resettlement agencies specifies the services that the agency must provide to each refugee. [This is effectively a contract since the federal government follows up with audits to assure compliance.—ed]
Continue reading to learn what else is required of them. They might use the phrase “cooperative agreement,” but there is no doubt this is a contract for services.
Now, this is what Senator Bryant says:
“As a Christian, I would never put myself in a contract that prohibited me from sharing the Gospel,” Sen. Bryant says in an interview. The Republican from Anderson County says that because the bill holds resettlement groups, not individuals, liable, it does not infringe on religious liberty. He says because resettlement groups sign a contract with the federal government in which they agree not to proselytize to refugees—more or less promising to act in a nondenominational capacity—they have given up all claims to religious liberty.
Bryant separates church and state and it’s about time the ‘religious’ resettlement contractors who are paid millions of your tax dollars every year to resettle refugees (payment by the head) did the same! (I repeat for the umpteenth time—where is the ACLU?)
Bryant, a born-again Christian, says he has been able to separate his faith from his work on this bill. He says he would rather donate to organizations who help refugees in the Middle East and North Africa. “My role in the government is to protect South Carolinians. My role as a Christian is to personally support different ministries that reach out to refugees,” he says. “I think we need to separate the commands of Christ from the role of government.”
Read the whole Mother Jones article by clicking here.
Confusion works against the taxpayer!
I believe that much of the reason the Refugee Admissions Program has escaped scrutiny for over 30 years is the confusion that was created when the federal government hired ‘church’ groups to be federal refugee contractors. Most people who hear about the program for the first time are shocked to learn that ‘Christian’ (and one Jewish group) are being PAID taxpayer dollars to do their supposed charitable work.