What do you need to escape

"... and you took me in."

Ten convictions on flight and integration from an evangelical perspective

Jesus said, “For I was hungry
and you gave me something to eat. I am
been thirsty and you gave me a drink
given. I've been a stranger and
you have welcomed me "(Mt 25:35)

Of conviction

In 2017, Protestant Christians will celebrate 500 years of the Reformation. The Reformation asked about the relationship between humans and God - and thus changed the church and the world. Luther formulated the new understanding of the Christian faith: “A Christian is a free lord […] and no one is subject.” All Christians live freely in the unconditional love of God. This also determines the relationships between people. Because this freedom is also a responsibility and an obligation to love one's neighbor. In Luther's words: "A Christian is a servant [...] and is subject to everyone."

In view of the many people fleeing war, persecution and hardship, the question of charity becomes concrete. Countless Christians are committed to the common good because the consequence of their faith is solidarity. Great and great things are being achieved in refugee aid in particular.

At the same time, political solutions are needed. The tasks are very large, the means and possibilities are limited. Many people wonder what effects migration and integration have on our society and social cohesion. The discussions about these questions are very polarizing. Some people are confident and welcome refugees, others fear that society will be overwhelmed or even see political failure.

According to the evangelical understanding, one can come to different insights into ethical questions. Every Christian is required to sharpen his conscience on the biblical message and to take his own position. This word about the situation describes some convictions that result from the Christian faith.

God's love is for the whole world and does not stop at national borders. All people live equally in God's closeness and grace - regardless of skin color, gender, nationality, religion and wealth.

At present, international crises are often responded to by withdrawing into national thinking. In the discussion about refugee policy in Germany, in Europe and elsewhere, the nation state is repeatedly declared to be the decisive benchmark.

The German federal government has committed itself to human rights. All political decisions must take into account the effects on human rights at all times - for the people here, on the run and in other countries.

God created all people in his image and gave them such an inviolable dignity. Nobody has to earn this dignity. All people are different and yet equally valuable. Origin, religion, appearance, sexual identity or legal residence status do not change anything. This basic insight of the Christian faith finds a secular, legal form in human rights.

War, hardship and persecution mean that people have to leave their homes - there are more than 65 million worldwide. Around 890,000 of them came to Germany in 2015 and were accepted. In 2016 there were around 280,000. At the same time, many of the previously applicable standards in German and European refugee law were worsened. Further tightening is discussed.

Human dignity is not negotiable. Therefore, the individual right to asylum must also be preserved. There must be safe escape routes for those seeking protection. The European Union also needs an immigration law that provides legal routes to Europe to a reasonable extent. In addition to refugees, those with subsidiary protection, such as civil war refugees, also require special protection. Christ stands at the side of those whose dignity is violated or challenged.

You should love your neighbor as yourself. That is how clearly the Bible puts it. It is an unlimited obligation to stand up for the dignity of all fellow human beings. Charity does not make any difference. Charity means that every needy person must be in view.

Deportations to conflict areas put people back in mortal danger. Declaring a country like Afghanistan to be safe doesn't change that. Ceilings for refugee admission and more barbed wire on border fences mean that even more people are left defenseless. These control proposals are justified with the organizational problems of admission, high costs and integration problems.

For Christians, charity is the highest commandment. They therefore help where it is needed. This unconditional conviction cannot be directly translated into politics. But from a Christian point of view, it is the central yardstick and point of orientation. The Protestant Church therefore demands that Germany help people seeking protection - also beyond its own national borders and the EU's external borders. It takes the international community to solve the global problem of flight. Wealthy states can take in more refugees and provide appropriate support to host countries such as Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon and other states.

The state must guarantee the safety of all people in the country. The free, open society in particular needs security. However, the need for security must be carefully weighed against freedom and tolerance. Because they are the foundations of an open society.

This trade-off is never easy. There are situations in which the security of all citizens requires measures that restrict individual freedom. The proportionality of these restrictions is examined by the courts. In a constitutional state, this is done on the basis of human rights.

In many places around the world, states are failing to fulfill these core tasks. Where there is no state authority to protect the population, people elsewhere seek refuge from violence and lawlessness. Therefore, efforts to promote the rule of law, democratic participation and social justice are worth supporting. All of this is needed for good coexistence - in Germany and elsewhere.

Faith in God, who will judge the world with righteousness (Psalm 9: 9), makes justice and peace the guiding principles when it comes to world responsibility.

People who live in prosperity based on unjust structures live at the expense of others. Income and wealth are extremely unevenly distributed around the world, and only a few have most of the world's wealth. As a rich and influential country, Germany contributes to the causes of flight: German policy allows companies to export arms and armaments to crisis regions. Consumers in Germany benefit from raw material conflicts and inadequate or unjust rules in world trade.

Christians open their eyes to injustice and their part in it. That is why they are creating new beginnings for global justice with church partners: through fair trade, emergency aid and sustainable development.

With the unification of Europe it was possible to overcome the historical hostilities after two world wars. It has brought the participating states an unprecedented phase of peace and friendship, prosperity and the establishment of democratic and constitutional structures.

The European idea and success story are currently being forgotten. Instead, parties and political movements increasingly emphasize national self-interests. The limits of European solidarity and community of values ​​are also clearly evident when taking in refugees.

It corresponds to the European and the Christian spirit to open oneself confidently. The past decades have shown that in Europe, relationships and interdependence make sense. With this experience, Europe can make a contribution to peace in the world.

For refugee policy, this means that the European response cannot be limited to relying on deterrence and isolation. Repelling victims of violence and terror at borders or allowing them to drown violates the European Convention on Human Rights and damages the soul of Europe.

Belief is based on individual certainty; that is one of the central insights of the Reformation. Because of this, we treat the religious beliefs of others with respect. Everyone has the right to have a belief - or not - and to live accordingly. Nobody should be marginalized, slandered or condemned because of their beliefs.

Violence in the name of religion and Islamist terror are part of the reality of our time and cause fear. But this must not lead to a fear of religion as such or of Muslims in general. This fallacy endangers social cohesion and freedom of religion.

As Christians, we stand up for religious freedom. We see the connecting origins and similarities of the various religions, just as we see the differences. The dialogue between religions and denominations is not always easy, but fruitful where there is openness and respect on all sides. Tolerance ends where religion and religious freedom are abused to harm people and their dignity. That is why we stand by the side of oppressed and persecuted Christians around the world.

Families are often torn apart on the run. While some have the strength and resources to escape, other family members are left behind. Anyone who receives asylum in Germany has the right to family reunification with a spouse or partner and minor children.

Part of the reality: The waiting time for the appointment to submit an application to a German embassy in the Middle East is over a year. Subsidiary protection, currently mainly civil war refugees from Syria, cannot reunite their families in Germany until at least March 2018.

Affected families must be allowed to live together again. Anyone who is afraid for their own family far away cannot get involved in Germany, learn German and find strength for a new beginning. Integration works best with the family. In addition, it is precisely the weaker people, often women and children, that need safe refuge.

If you strive first for the kingdom of God and for his righteousness, it will all fall to you, says Matthew 6:33. Christians live their faith in this confidence. And this is where their diaconal and pastoral commitment to society is based.

Many people in Germany feel threatened by certain people and groups of people. For this reason, too, rejection and hatred are currently directed against refugees. There are daily attacks on refugees and refugee shelters, which in turn terrify refugees. Even people who help refugees face hostility.

Social cohesion needs the courage to be human instead of fear and withdrawal from those who have found refuge in Germany. Because: the more people meet each other with confidence, the less room there is for prejudice. Encounters arise where people can contribute equally. This also includes political participation. That is why access to citizenship should remain possible for people living here permanently.

Democracy lives from the debate. It is precisely the fundamental questions about how we want to shape social coexistence in the future that must be argued.

At the moment, however, immigration and integration policy is often not discussed objectively. Racism and inhuman demands polarize the political and social debate enormously. This can be seen in Germany as well as in other countries.

Responsibility for the common good begins with the choice of words. Debating does not mean putting everything up for debate. When language becomes aggressive, the respectful culture of argument disappears and there is a threat of radicalization of thought and action. It is not far from hatred to violence.

Exchange and encounters can break up hardened fronts of conversation - and thus strengthen social cohesion: for the benefit of all people who live here.

Migration and flight as terms

The distinction between flight and migration is often not clear. There are legal categories and people's life situation, which is often more complex. Many factors often come together before people have to leave their homeland: Poverty, political unrest, threats, violence, right up to war or the loss of livelihoods, e.g. through environmental disasters or land grabbing. For most of them, their status changes several times in the course of their lives: Refugees can become successful migrant workers; Migrant women become refugees - for example due to the outbreak of civil war.

Migration is part of everyday global life

More than 230 million people worldwide live as migrants outside their home countries. This corresponds to around 3.2 percent of the world population - a figure that has remained almost unchanged for decades, even if the absolute numbers are increasing. Migration is part of everyday global life - for seasonal workers, skilled workers or people who move for family reasons, as well as for students who go abroad. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), 90 percent of migrants around the world are gainfully employed or have a family member who works and who also provides for them. Source: www.brot-fuer-die-welt.de

How many have to flee?

Around 65 million people around the world are currently on the run. There are more than ever before. 40.8 million of these people flee within their own country and are therefore internally displaced. 21.3 million people had to leave their country. Another 3.2 million are people who are in the process of asylum. Only those who are recognized as refugees in the asylum procedure have the right to protection under the Geneva Refugee Convention. Internally displaced persons do not have this option. In conflict areas in particular, they often remain particularly vulnerable and are difficult to reach for humanitarian aid. Source: www.uno-fluechtlingshilfe.de

Where do people go?