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The Role of the Protestant Church in the US Refugee Resettlement Program during the Early Cold War Era: The Methodist Case

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AbstractThe active involvement of Christian churches in the us refugee resettlement program originated and evolved soon after World War ii. Refugee relief was an instrument of America’s Cold War strategy. At the same time, the humanitarian and missionary impulses of American churches, which were at work independent of the diplomatic cause, provided impetus for their relief activities. While the state created the legislative framework, churches played a leading part in arranging and implementing the resettlement, sometimes lobbying and negotiating with the government. This paper, through a focus on the Methodist experience, examines how the American Protestant church reacted to the massive refugee problem, and discusses the missiology behind its participation in the resettlement program. Historical records reveal that the churches sponsored a sizable number of refugees with different traditions or faiths, encouraging a multicultural attitude leading to a more pluralistic identity. Sponsorship meant a test to follow a call to good neighborliness. This study thus rediscovers and assesses missions’ contribution to this internationalist endeavor.

Affiliations: 1: Fukuoka Jo Gakuin


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