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Banning Muslims Rhetoric Stems From 'Hatred and Suspicion,' US Catholic Bishops Declare

Banning Muslims Rhetoric Stems From 'Hatred and Suspicion,' US Catholic Bishops Declare

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump puts his notes back in his jacket after talking about Democrat opponent Hillary Clinton at a Trump for President campaign rally in Raleigh, North Carolina December 4, 2015. The notes read, "Beat Hillary, No Strength, No Stamina, Goes Away". | (Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Drake)

Calls to ban Muslims from America stem from "hatred and suspicion," the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said.

USCCB President Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz said in a statement on Monday that Christians are called to respond to situations such as the ongoing refugee crisis with love, rather than with inflammatory rhetoric.

"Watching innocent lives taken and wondering whether the violence will reach our own families rightly stirs our deepest protective emotions. We must resist the hatred and suspicion that leads to policies of discrimination," Kurtz wrote.

"Instead, we must channel our emotions of concern and protection, born in love, into a vibrant witness to the dignity of every person."

While the statement did not directly refer to GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner stirred great controversy last week when he suggested that all Muslims need to be banned from entering America, citing security concerns.

"Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on," the statement from Trump's campaign read.

"Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred [of America] is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine," it added.

A number of Christians and conservatives condemned the suggestion, including Reince Priebus, chairman of the National Republican Committee, who wrote:

"I don't agree. We need to aggressively take on radical Islamic terrorism, but not at the expense of our American values."

Some notable Evangelicals stood up for Trump, however, including the Rev. Franklin Graham.

"For some time I have been saying that Muslim immigration into the United States should be stopped until we can properly vet them or until the war with Islam is over," Graham wrote.

"Politicians in Washington seem to be totally disconnected with reality," he added in response to criticism Trump has received.

In his statement, Kurtz argued, however, that Christians lose part of who they are when they "fail to see the difference between our enemies and people of good will."

"Policies of fear and inflammatory rhetoric will only offer extremists fertile soil and pave the way toward a divisive, fearful future," he added.

"Confident in what Jesus asks of us, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops remains steadfast in our commitment to refugees, who are often escaping severe persecution," the Archbishop continued, adding that Catholic bishops "will advocate on behalf of people facing religious discrimination, including our Muslim brothers and sisters."

He concluded: "Let us confront the extremist threat with courage and compassion, recognizing that Christianity, Islam, Judaism and many other religions are united in opposition to violence carried out in their name."

There has been much division and debate in American society over whether the U.S. should open up its doors to more refugees.

Christian aid groups helping Syrians in refugee camps in Turkey and other countries have warned, however, that linking asylum seekers with the actions of terrorists only makes the job for ministries harder.

"One can sense that the refugees themselves are feeling judged and looked over as though they may be affiliated with ISIS and are dangerous. This makes them feel ashamed, when really they want to be connected but can't make that clear to the church members," a ministry director in Turkey working with Christian Aid Mission said last week.

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