Martyrdom, Antinomianism, and the Prioritising of Christians - Towards a Political Theology of Refugee Resettlement
Author(s): Matthew Zagor
This article considers the approaches taken in the United States (US) and Australia to prioritising the resettlement of Christians from Syria and Iraq. Focusing ﬁrst upon respective models and the immediate political factors that lead to their adoption, it analyses in depth the speciﬁc role played by the evangelical constituency in the US, and their theologically-infused concern for the “persecuted church” in “enslaved” lands. Recognising this movement enjoys less inﬂuence in Australia, the article considers the ways in which Australia’s resettlement policies and political narratives have nonetheless increasingly participated in tropes familiar to classical antinomian political theology, not least that resettlement is tied to a redemptive generosity of the State that works to denigrate and undermine the legal obligations demanded by those who arrive irregularly by boat. The article also critiques the use of “vulnerability” as a touchstone principle for the fair allocation of scarce resettlement places, and its propensity to be used for cherry-picking purposes. Finally, as part of the argument that resettlement is susceptible to being used as a vehicle for those motivated by more explicit theological concerns, the article explores the leveraging for political, redemptive, and eschatological purposes of images and narratives of the “martyred” middle-eastern Christian.