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Welcoming the Refugee: Religious Norms for Humanitarian Aid in Troubled Times

Chicken wire fence at dusk.

May 21, 2024
12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. EDT
Location: Online Zoom Webinar

Most religious traditions include textual teachings and normative ethical imperatives to welcome the refugee and provide humanitarian aid to the vulnerable stranger and displaced neighbor. These religious norms correlate to secular theoretical arguments about mutual reciprocity and positive moral duties to render aid to the refugee. Yet moral responses to refugees and displaced persons are under threat from both within religious communities and from political discourse, particularly in the United States and Europe.

This webinar explored the moral norms that motivate religious communities, NGOs, and aid groups and the internal politics that play out around religious norms about refugees and displaced persons. How can religious communities solve the tension over what they are called to do to welcome the refugee while internal and external political pressure insists on closing borders? Participants discussed specific examples of groups following their imperatives to care for the refugee while navigating the challenges and resistances of legislative obstacles or bureaucratic failings, hindering the advancement of their humanitarian response.

This event was part of the Culture of Encounter Project's international, interfaith working group on displaced persons and convened by the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University.