Pope Francis speaks out against the politics of fear before US election

Free U.S. Government poster that shows the steps to become president. The President must: Be a natural-born citizen of the United States; be at least 35 years old; have been a resident of the United States for 14 years.

Pope Francis, speaking just days before the U.S. presidential election, urged social justice activists from around the world not to give into the politics of fear by building walls but instead work to build bridges.

"Because fear - as well as being a good deal for the merchants of arms and death - weakens and destabilizes us, destroys our psychological and spiritual defenses, numbs us to the suffering of others," Francis said according to America Magazine.

"In the end," the Pope noted Nov. 5, "it makes us cruel."

The bitterly fought election by two candidates who do not appear to be greatly loved has been a no holds barred contest with each dogged by allegations about each other that have kept debate away from proposed policies.

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Pope Francis did not mention the Nov. 8 U.S. election, but many of the themes he touched on have played out in debates between Republican Party candidate Donald J. Trump and the Democratic Party's Hillary Clinton in recent months.

The Pope reiterated pleas he had made for nations to respond more generously to the global refugee crisis, which he blamed on "an unjust socio-economic system and wars."

Francis cited the hundreds of thousands of people who have died in the Mediterranean Sea seeking entry into Europe in recent years and, he said, "no one should be forced to flee their homeland."

The United States accepted some 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016 fleeing the vicious civil war but Trump had said in his campaign speeches he wants to shut Muslims out of the United States for a time, as well as building a wall to keep illegal Mexicans out.

Trump also said he will ban migrants from countries experiencing terrorism from entering the United States.

Mindful of the fact that Trumps call could have been applied to Jews who like Muslims are a minority religious group in the United States, many Jews have recoiled at the prejudices dominating Trump's campaign.

The Jewish publication, The Forward, carried an article Nov. 7 headlined, "What If Donald Trump Had Called for Ban on Jews - Not Muslims?"

It referred an election ad on rotation in the swing state of Florida, which boasts a sizable Jewish population, which imagines presidential candidate Trump calling for a ban on Jews coming to the United States.

The advertisement, paid for by the anti-Trump group Truth PAC, includes an excerpt of an earlier speech by Trump in which he calls for the ban of Muslims to the United States - but the word "Muslim" has been edited out and replaced with "Jew."

"We changed one word," the text of the ad reads. "Don't let Donald Trump win. No one is safe unless everyone is safe."

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