Prominent evangelist Franklin Graham described the rounding up of many Iraqi Christians for possible deportation as "very disturbing" and called on President Donald Trump to investigate the matter. He added that deporting the Chladean refugees back to their country could put them in serious danger.
Graham, who has been a top supporter of Trump and his travel ban, urged the White House to investigate the sweeping immigration raids in Michigan and Tennessee, saying that special consideration ought to be extended to the refugees due to the slaughter of Christians by the Islamic State in their country.
While he didn't formally endorse Trump during the campaign, the son of famed evangelist Billy Graham quoted from Scripture at the inauguration, saying that "God's hand intervened" in the election. He also regularly praised the president on Facebook where he is followed by 5.7 million users.
Graham also supported Trump's policies including the proposed travel ban on immigrants from several mostly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. "Taking action to secure our borders had to start somewhere," he wrote. "Is it perfect? Maybe not, but it is a first step," he added.
Other evangelical leaders have spoken out on the arrest of Iraqi immigrants. One of them is Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's policy arm, who tweeted: "Let's also make sure we don't deport Iraqi Christians, to be slaughtered back in the Middle East."
White evangelicals set a new high water mark in their support of Republican candidates when they overwhelmingly voted for Trump in the recent presidential election, according to poll results. The sector has since become a key part of his constituency.
Last month, Graham and other faith leaders were given an insider tour by Trump at his White House residence after signing an executive order on religious liberty. But the order was seen to be lacking as it didn't allow businesses to decline to provide services that go against their religious beliefs.