Christians are hospitable because Jesus is Lord

An evangelical case for pluralism

If you were looking for an argument for welcoming strangers of another language, religion, and race, you probably wouldn’t seek it from an American evangelical Christian. But that is precisely what Matthew Kaemingk gives us in his startling new book. Given the political harm American evangelicals have recently wrought in the world, it is thrilling to find this counternarrative.

The background of the book is familiar: while political correctness demands that people speak no ill of cultural newcomers, frustration and resistance to this stance erupts in xenophobic vitriol. But Kaemingk isn’t writing about Latino immigration to the United States. His topic is Muslim immigration to the Netherlands, rooted in his doctoral research in Amsterdam. The Dutch, proud of their reputation for being liberal and inclusive, run face-first into the conservative Islam adhered to by immigrants in ways that are both nationally traumatic (as in the 2004 assassination of filmmaker and critic of Islam Theo van Gogh) and quotidian (hijabs on the streets of Amsterdam).

For Kaemingk, both the left and the right in Holland have failed in their approach to immigration. Muslim workers were first brought to Holland after World War II to do menial jobs, and they were kept in secluded work camps. When it became evident that they wouldn’t return home, these immigrants were encouraged to assimilate to Western and liberal values. When they would not, the Dutch proved to be as intolerant of difference as many other groups—and nationalist politicians took advantage.