A number of governors in the U.S. are against allowing Syrian refugees to enter their state and seek asylum.

As a clergyman for over 50 years and a resident of the state of Maine, I was shocked by the indifference and the assault directed to the thousands of men, women and children fleeing starvation, destruction of homes, uprooting of schools and security of life and liberty.

I agree with the president’s position on the meaning of freedom put into practice for all in the United States and beyond its borders. Our country has grown by intelligent welcoming, along with screening, of the lost and forsaken. Those fleeing from Syria and neighboring countries are no exception.

In the Bible, we find a lawyer addressing Jesus, asking, “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered, “Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.”

“…  And who is my neighbor?” the lawyer asked.

Jesus answered by telling a story we can revise for our times: “A family fled from Syria with their 4-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son. They barely escaped drowning over terrifying seas. They hiked hundreds of miles with little food. Boundaries were closed one by one.

“Along the way, a Samaritan as he journeyed saw the family and found a legal way for the four to find refuge. He had compassion and gave them food, and a safe place to heal the wounds springing from deep fear.”

Jesus then asked the lawyer: “Which of those who visited the refugees from Syria do you think was the neighbor?” And the lawyer said, “Those from the U.S. and around the world who showed mercy unto this family.” Then Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”

Rev. Frederick Lipp

minister emeritus, First Parish Church, Portland