The Kuyperian Commentary

Politics, Economics, Culture, and Theology with a Biblical Viewpoint

Archive for the category “Immigration”

Faith and Immigration

By Peter Jones

Immigration1I am not an expert on immigration. I do not know the laws inside and out. I have paid little attention to the debate over the last decade or so.  But over the last couple of months I have become convinced that I need to do more thinking about it. It is not as important as the murder of babies or sodomy or even women in the military, but it does matter. Here are some of my initial thoughts on immigration in no particular order and subject to revision.

First, on principle Christians should have no objection to immigration. There is no biblical law or principle that would forbid people coming into our country from other countries. We have no reason to fear their presence. Most of our ancestors were immigrants. Our fathers in the faith migrated to Egypt (Genesis 47). There is an irrational fear of “losing our country to foreigners” or of “American culture being unalterably changed” among political conservatives which conservative Christians often adopt. Christians should not think this way. I know some Christians will say they only fear illegal immigration. That may be true, but the language is frequently applied across the board to immigrants.

Second, Christians should love immigrants, legal or illegal because they are our neighbors (Leviticus 19:34). They are not political pawns to be used to gain votes or to bash the other party by showing that the Republicans have no compassion or that Democrats do not care about our country. They are people created in the image of God. Political expediency and love for America is not the primary concern. Are we loving them and are we helping them to love God.

Third, Christians are called upon to obey the civil magistrate in all circumstances that do not include disobedience to God.  Therefore illegal immigrants who are Christians should repent of the sin of disobeying the authorities God has placed over them and begin working towards legal status. This would include accepting any penalty the law may enforce for their disobedience. Christian business men should not hire illegal immigrants and should repent if they have and again take any penalty the government may enforce. Pastors who minister to illegal immigrants should call on them to repent of refusing to obey the God-ordained authority and work with them so they can get legal status.

Fourth, Christians should not oppose making it easier for someone to become part of our country. Looking at the USCIS page it appears that in order to become a citizen you have to have been here 5 years and pass a civics test and English language test, as well as be a person of “good moral character.”  I think the civics test and English language test make sense, but the 5 year wait could be amended. However, there are millions of legal immigrants who enter our country every year. So the effort must be worth it for most immigrants. Our goal, as Christians, should not be to make it as hard as we can for someone to participate in American civic life.

Fifth, magistrates have a duty to protect their citizens. Therefore it is not absurd for the government to try to keep out of our country evil doers and trouble makers.  Nor is it wrong to have a process for becoming a citizen. But criminals will be criminals. Conservatives say the same thing with guns.  We know that wicked men circumvent gun laws, so wicked men will get around our immigration laws. Just as someone going on a murderous rampage is not a good reason to punish law abiding, gun owning citizens, so a legal or illegal immigrant who does wrong is not a good reason to punish the millions who are here and intend no harm. The Tsarnaev brothers, who were here legally, have been cited as a problem with America’s immigration policy by conservatives. But this is hypocrisy, unless you also want to cite Adam Lanza as a problem with American’s gun policy.

Sixth, I am not sure what to do with the 11 million illegal immigrants in our country. As Christians we should not approach them with fear.  And yet, God calls upon us to obey the authorities. My initial (and very tentative) response is to create a streamlined pathway to citizenship, but keep them from voting in elections for at least one presidential cycle. This would prevent the passage of legislation for the sake of gaining votes. It does not seem that straight amnesty is a good choice. A price should be paid because they broke the law. In this case the price would be that they could not participate in elections.

Seventh, the biggest problem with immigration is not the immigrants, but the bloated, red-taped obsessed, welfare dispensing U.S. government. A lot of critiques of immigration focus on the financial costs of supporting them. But this would not even be a problem if our government did not provide free healthcare, education, welfare, etc. The current arrangement does make immigrants a drain financially. It should not be that way. Also the U.S. government does not truly care for her own citizens. She makes us dependent upon her so we stay on her leash. She spies on us and removes our basic civil rights without due process. Why would we assume they will treat immigrants any other way? Is it really loving our neighbor by encouraging U.S. citizenship? Right now, I still think yes. But the time could come where Christians might encourage potential immigrants to get out of Sodom.

As Christians we have a great opportunity to love those entering our country instead of using them and to call upon them to worship the living God, which would include submitting to the authorities God has place over us. Adopting conservative talking points on immigration will often put us at odds with the Bible. Therefore all of us, but especially those in states where immigrants are common, need to think carefully about how we can show genuine, biblical love for those legal and illegal immigrants around us.

Peter  Jones is the pastor of  Christ Church of Morgantown, he has eight children, but unlike Jacob only one wife. He also blogs at Singing and Slaying.

Advertisements

The Pseudo-Capitalist Border Patrol: With friends like this the free market doesn’t need any more enemies

The debate is raging over whether the latest immigration bill is an amnesty for illegal immigrants, but one part is clear: The legislation would forgive businesses that have employed those immigrants illegally.

via Immigration bill grants amnesty to employers of illegals; no prosecution for bogus IDs – Washington Times.

open borderIt is amazing to see the same people who, day and night, scream and moan against business regulation and Obama’s socialism, suddenly act as if this is some sort of “smoking gun” proving the evil nature of immigration reform.

Restricting who a business can hire is an inefficient regulation that hurts consumers. I can’t say as a Christian that I condone breaking the law in such as case, but then, if this law passes, the lawbreaking will be dealt with by the highest civil authority. Paul’s directions in Romans 13 will have been followed. Read more…

Whither the Wicker?

Guest Post by Rob Hadding

I’ve been watching politics since I was about ten. My earliest political recollections are of the 1972 Republican and Democratic conventions. I was captivated by the theater of it all. The speeches were full of pathos, the nominating process was full of drama, and it seemed like everyone was full of enthusiasm for the possibilities that lay ahead if their man (or woman – Shirley Chisholm ran that year) won the day. It all seemed so important. I’ve watched coverage of almost every political convention since, if with significantly less awe.  Somewhere along the way since 1972, I began to see what every other informed observer of American politics sees. To say that I’ve grown cynical is to say a true thing.

My political cynicism found an easy friend in the hell-in-a-handbasket eschatology of Dispensationalism, and quicker than you could name the next candidate for antichrist, I was a full-blown pessimist. But over time, I found pessimism to be exhausting – there was never a payoff. When things just keep going from bad to worse to worser, the only thing there is to feel good about is the destruction of the universe, and, frankly, that kind of a downer.

Imagine my relief, then, when I was introduced to a more hopeful eschatology. It took me a long time to sort out, but once I finally did it was like I had been given permission to feel good about the creation that God called good in the first place. He isn’t just going to blow it to smithereens; he is going to put it all back together again, but this time more glorious than ever. In fact, new creation had already begun in the resurrection of Christ. Antichrist, meet Jesus Christ. You lose.

But in a sense, this just caused me further consternation. I had abandoned the theological titanic that is Dispensationalism, but my political cynicism had only grown. Speeches, conventions, elections, and bad leaders accumulated, and things only appear to grow worse. How can someone remain optimistic when the handbasket is moving so fast?

Well, last week something happened that sparked hope. Now, it’s only a spark, and the kind of hope it inspires is not in any sense ultimate, but it was like nothing I’ve seen in some time. On the floor of the United States Senate, the junior senator from Kentucky stood for thirteen without a pee break on principle. In accordance with Senate rules, and armed with the conviction to stand up and say, “Hell no,” Rand Paul hijacked the Senate for the day to make a point. The filibuster of John Brennan’s confirmation to the job of CIA Director was not to block Mr. Brennan’s appointment (he admitted at the outset that he did not have the votes to succeed in doing so), but to call attention to the use of drones against American citizens, both on and off American soil, without benefit of due process. Specifically, Mr. Paul was calling out President Barack Obama and his chief lawyer, Eric Holder, to give a clear answer on whether they understood it was within the president’s power to order a hit on an American without a trial to establish guilt. Up to this point a clear answer had not come, though the question was clearly asked.

This moment is probably not in itself a tide turner. Even though it seems that Mr. Paul did get a clear, yet terse, response from Mr. Holder the following day, and even though Mr. Paul raised awareness on the issue of drones – both of which were his stated objectives – this event does not in itself change the course of the nation, or usher in a new age of openness in government, or make the president any less likely to do everything he can to drive the America Bus into oncoming traffic.

But something very real happened on that day that gives me reason to think that the handbasket could take another direction. This is evident in the way the day unfolded. At the beginning, it looked like Rand Paul, a chip off the nutty ol’ Paul block, was going to make a long-winded speech. It would be well reasoned, of course, and would score some points with the Tea Party crowd, but would accomplish just north of nothing. But as the day progressed, a swell of tweets and status updates formed. A website emerged to clock his filibuster. Activity in the Senate Chamber increased. Other senators rose, requesting time to ask questions without asking Senator Paul to yield the floor as a show of support and to give him a moment to rest his voice. C-SPAN 2’s existence was justified. I went to bed that night before he had finished. I said to my wife as I turned out the bedroom light, “I hope he’s still going in the morning.” But by the time the day had ended, Mr. Paul had done something that hadn’t been done in a long time – he captured the imagination of the political right, and gave them something to be excited about.

In just thirteen hours – which is a long time to stand without peeing, but not so long if you’re talking about the history of the world – a freshman senator breathed life into his party and into those of us who had lost all confidence in the Republican Party after the nomination of Mitt Romney. In a single moment of political theater one began to think that all just might not be lost.

Let me be clear: I don’t think the answer to our ills is political (in the common sense of the term). I don’t think that Rand Paul is the great hope of the nation, or even of the Republican Party. I am not sure he would make a great president. But on the day of the filibuster, he lit a match in the political darkness, and it may be that that match touches a candlewick – or a fuse. One thing is certain: Rand Paul stock went up that day, and he may just be the leader conservatives have been looking for.

But what really strikes me about the whole thing is something more hopeful. That is, as fast as that things can change. Even though things look like they are hurtling toward certain disaster, in just a moment things can change. Who knows what the effects of this event will be? It could be the beginning of a massive re-framing of the conversation about the economy, morality, and so on. It might not be. But for me, it has persuaded me that good things can happen, and I am free to be optimistic even in the face of what appear to be overwhelmingly bad circumstances. It can all change quickly.

Rob Hadding is the Senior Pastor of Christ Church in Pace, Fl.

Jeb Bush as the New Lyndon Johnson

Lyndon Johnson had a dream. Following Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, Johnson moved speedily to embody Kennedy’s vision for the country. After Roosevelt’s New Deal, Johnson’s vision for a post-Kennedy country was as ambitious as FDR’s. With only 11 months before the elections of 1964, Johnson had to prove to the country that his presidency wasn’t just due to Kennedy’s departure, but that he also deserved a chance by his own merits to lead the country for four more years. Johnson wooed Congress to pass his agenda. He continued JFK’s vision for a Civil Right’s Act, which was passed. Johnson also instituted a vision for a Great Society, which included a War on Poverty. At that moment, Liberalism’s goal to crown the Federal Government as the giver of life was achieved in a way Roosevelt could not.

Under Johnson’s presidency, Liberalism gained a powerful ally. The following agenda reveals the genesis of some of our current woes:

  • The Wilderness Protection Act saved 9.1 million acres of forestland from industrial development.
  • The Elementary and Secondary Education Act provided major funding for American public school.
  • The Voting Rights Act banned literacy tests and other discriminatory methods of denying suffrage to African Americans.
  • Medicare was created to offset the costs of health care for the nation’s elderly.
  • The National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities used public money to fund artists and galleries.
  • The Immigration Act ended discriminatory quotas based on ethnic origin.
  • An Omnibus Housing Act provided funds to construct low-income housing.
  • Congress tightened pollution controls with stronger Air and Water Quality Acts.
  • Standards were raised for safety in consumer products.

Vietnam, of course, shattered Johnson’s vision for a New Heaven and Earth. Now the attention of a nation was drawn to the disastrous Vietnam War.

Jeb Bush’s Vision

In some ways, Democrats have attempted to continue the Johnson legacy. They have succeeded. $16.5 Trillion in debt reveals that the Democratic leaders paid careful attention to Johnson’s blueprint for the nation. But we have come to expect this type of consistent ideology from Democrats.

Enters Jeb Bush.

The former Governor has been deeply engaged in talks about a 2016 run. In comments made towards immigration Reform, the former Governor of Florida extolled Johnson’s skills as a legislator. Breitbart quotes Bush’s assessment of Johnson:

“He went and he cajoled, he begged, he threatened, he loved, he hugged, he did what leaders do, which is they personally get engaged to make something happen,’’ Bush said of Johnson.

To be fair, Bush did not praise Johnson’s Great Society or War on Poverty, but Bush’s invoking of Johnson positively in any way reminds Conservatives and Moral Libertarians of the misdirected attempts of healing the nation through unconstitutional means. It prompts us to ask, “what keeps Bush from incarnating Johnson’s presidency not only in the immigration issue, but other important matters as well? ”

Of course, the best read of this situation is that he is arguing for a hands-on presidency (like Johnson’s) in an attempt to discredit Obama’s hands-off presidency. But forgive the political pessimism from my perspective, but I seem to have a general distrust of the Bush brand of political reform.

Immigration, Amnesty, and the Bible

The Senate has proposed–through some mini-caucus known as the Senate “Gang of Eight”–an immigration reform bill that has big support from the President, enough that he’s not going to offer his own proposal. The proposal begins with bipartisan support because the group is made up of four Republicans (McCain, Graham, Rubio, and Flake) and four Democrats (Schumer, Durbin, Menendez, and Bennet). Although, it having bipartisan support across Congress is less than promising.

The proposal is essentially one that mandates secure borders. Upon securing the border, a trigger is enacted that would give legal status to the approximately 11 million illegals living within the United States currently.

The proposal seems to be in opposition to the typical position held by conservatives: secure borders, no amnesty. Conservatives argue that while America is known as a melting pot of civilizations, no melting pot can remain a sovereign nation without protecting its values (such as a common language, religious values–on a very basic, general level, political ideas–typified in the Constitution, and patriotic loyalty. These things can be protected while the melting pot continues in diversity so long as the influx of diversity is restricted enough that the immigrants have time to be assimilated before their views can become the majority view.

Liberals, on the other hand, see it more along the lines of a human rights issue. These people came here for the chance to succeed and prosper and that’s what we have to offer, the “American Dream.” We cannot refuse a chance at the dream to someone just because we don’t like the minority background–a violation of human rights. It would be wrong to uproot these people (the 11 million illegal immigrants) from their homes, families, careers, churches, and communities simply because we don’t like the way they got here. They are already part of the melting pot, and doing just fine.

Libertarians–while far from a monolithic group–look at it from a slightly different perspective. America is made up of private property and private property holders. The government has no authority over private property and cannot restrict access to it. Thus, if I am a private property owner, I have the right to allow whomever I choose on my property, or to buy my property, or to be employed on my property. This means I can employ, sell to, or rent to anyone, regardless of their point of origin. The 11 million illegal immigrants are illegal based on the arbitrary rules of a government that is violating my private property rights when it makes such rules. The rule is, by definition, an illegal, unconstitutional, and unjust rule, and therefore should be reformed.

What needs to be considered in analyzing the “Gang of Eight’s” proposal is not whether the Democratic President Obama likes it, nor whether it was written by Democrats, Republicans, or both. It is not necessary to know whether FoxNews agrees with it or CNN or MSNBC or the Huffington Post or Drudge Report. What needs to be examined are the philosophical, theological, and political underpinnings of why one is in favor of or opposed to immigration.

For example, if you would normally take the conservative view, would you consistently apply those same arguments to the Church? Would you try to justify refusing Church membership to a large group of Chinese converts because they language, religious views, and values they would bring to your local congregation might overpower the values of the congregation currently?

If you would normally take the liberal view, would you consistently apply those same arguments to your own home? If someone just moved in and began homesteading on your property, would you refuse to have them forcibly removed on the basis of basic human rights?

If you would normally take the libertarian view, would you make no room for restricting the borders for concerns of national security? Should the borders at least be patrolled, if not to stop immigrants from access to private property holders, then at least to be surveyed for potential threats to national security (suitcase nukes, dirty bombs, chemical weapons, etc.)?

Finally, we must ask questions about the unintended consequences of our reform. If this reform basically states that we are going to start securing our borders, and once we do any and all illegal immigrants currently within our borders will become legal, then aren’t we basically offering a huge carrot for a mad rush of illegal immigration to push across the borders now, before they become secure, in order to receive that amnesty? And, if we are, does it matter? Should we even be trying to stop them by securing the borders anyway?

The Bible is silent on securing the border or restricting immigration. It does, however, teach the assimilation of strangers into the culture of the nation, “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (Lev 19:34).

Post Navigation