GOP refugee fear rages on: Governor calls on Catholic church to turn away Syrian refugees

Indiana Governor Mike Pence already redirected one family to Connecticut and now wants the church to close its doors

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published December 3, 2015 4:19PM (EST)

Mike Pence               (AP/Darron Cummings)
Mike Pence (AP/Darron Cummings)

The Republican governor of Indiana really, really doesn't want any Syrian refugees in his home state and he has, perhaps more than any single governor in the United States, gone to great lengths to ensure that not one foot fleeing from the ravaged war zone steps onto his turf.

Mike Pence may have been the 15th governor to rush to publicly announce a ban on all Syrian refugee resettlement in his state immediately following a terror attack in Paris, but he was the only governor who said as much while one such refugee family was actually en route. Two parents and their son who fled Homs, Syria, and lived in a Jordanian refugee camp while being screened for two years were redirected to Connecticut after Pence directed all state agencies to stop resettling Syrian refugees in Indiana.

Pence made his initial decision as little was known about the attackers in Paris but we've since learned that none of them were Syrian refugees. Still, Pence is sticking to his anti-Syrian refugee stance, now demanding that private charities such as the Roman Catholic church also abstain from helping fleeing Syrians.

According to the Associated Press, Pence met with Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin on Wednesday to call on the Roman Catholic church to reject its pledge to aid Syrian refugees despite the governor's ban. According to the AP, "their meeting came a day after the archdiocese said private donors had offered to pay the costs of resettling a Syrian refugee family expected to arrive in Indiana later this month." The archdiocese had said it could resettle a Syrian refugee family of four that had been vetted for two years.

“We had a good conversation today with Catholic Charities and I’m hopeful that they’ll respect our wishes,” Pence told the AP after the meeting, sticking with his insistence that Syrian refugees poise a threat to Indiana following the Paris attacks.

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By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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Aol_on Catholic Church Compassionate Conservatism Gop Mike Pence Syrian Refugee Crisis