The Refugee and the Sovereign State

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    Some Christian political theorists and theologians counter calls for greater generosity toward refugees by appealing to the prerogatives of state sovereignty, the preferential love for fellow-citizens, and the priority of loving nearby neighbours over distant strangers. This article responds to each argument, arguing that the right to exclude outsiders is not an immutable aspect of sovereignty, the construction of a social contract among fellow-citizens does not justify abandoning duties to non-citizens, and, in a highly globalized world, the obligation to love one's neighbour is not rightly circumscribed by geography. It further argues that Jesus's parable of the good Samaritan serves as a foil through which it can be seen that many sovereign states not only fail to love the displaced neighbour by providing refuge, but, like the priest and the Levite, go out of their way to keep refugees at a distance-and, like the robbers, even contribute to their vulnerability and suffering.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)456-474
    JournalInternational Journal of Public Theology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


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