Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Immigration Issue and Christians

To my email inbox this week came a newsletter from the Christian Standard.  The articles are all about Christianity and the immigration issue.  As is typical, the editor claims no position on the matter.  He says:

What is Christian Standard’s position on immigration? As a rule we don’t make pronouncements on political or legal issues, and that’s not our purpose here. As more than one writer this week and next says, the issues are complicated and the solutions are not easy.

But surely every reader can agree on this position: Let’s show love, Christian love, to immigrants. If we must ask about their status, let that not be the first question. We may be the best or only way for the immigrants around us to experience the peace and purpose we have discovered in our Lord. That’s Christian Standard’s position on immigration.

But despite the claim to take no position on the matter, a quick reading of the articles offered shows only one that offers something of a ‘con’, or at a cautionary, position.  The rest are more or less (mostly much more) ‘pro.’  And, in fact, the editorial quoted above at one point says, “We fear that too many Christians have come quickly to their conclusions without considering counter views from others who also love God.”  The over-all effect of the articles in the newsletter is something like this – you xenophobic hayseeds of the middle-American Christian church need to change your stubborn, uninformed minds on this matter of immigration.  I think that impression was clearly intended.

This might shock those of you who know me, but I have some sympathy for broader immigration laws.  I think many people come to this country for the freedoms they do not enjoy at home, and I admire all people who seek freedom.  In fact, I would like to exchange some of the freedom-loving immigrants I have met for many of the native statists who plague our country.  (I would be most pleased, for example, to exchange Barack Obama for some freedom-loving Iranian.  And perhaps Mr. Obama would be more at home in a nation that is already totalitarian, and doesn’t need his help getting there.)

But there are a couple of interesting omissions from this collection of articles from the Christian Standard.

First, as has been said many times by many people (and any idiot should be able to figure it out), liberal immigration policy and a massive welfare state are a recipe for disaster.  Only one article even mentions this, and even that one mentions if very briefly, and not nearly forcefully enough.  This doesn’t mean that all immigrants come here for the freebies, of which we offer an over-abundance.  But immigrants, when they arrive, will become legally entitled to many of our handouts, even if that is not their motive for coming.  Even now those here illegally can and do partake of the dole.  Many Christians, being the fluffy-headed dopes that they are, don’t even bother to consider this.  They see our massive welfare state as simply the way things ought to be.  (One of the authors of these articles is affiliated with a group dedicated to expanding the welfare state.  Another cites a leftist ‘Christian’ group that openly advocates socialism.)

That is problem number one.  There is also a problem number two.

Current immigration law is part of our overly-big, intrusive national governmental structure.  Is it a mess?  Of course, just like all the rest of it.  Our hodgepodge of statist laws and policies is irrational, and often unjust.  But immigration law is only a small part of that mess.  And it is interesting how ambivalent the Christian attitude toward law can be.

For example, one of the authors quotes with approval a sermon in which the minister said,“You may say to me, ‘what about illegal do you not understand?’ I say to you, ‘what about love your neighbor do you not understand?’”  What I would like to know is:  where can we find this same attitude toward other aspects of our massive regulatory, confiscatory state?  Where is the same kind of compassion toward those who do not want to comply with tax laws?  Where is this kind of concern for those who do not want to comply with onerous business regulations?  There are dozens more questions like those we could offer, but you get the idea.

There is a kind of political, and even moral, hypocrisy in those who urgently want to reform our massive regulatory state, but only the part of it that deals with their pet agenda.  There are many laws propagated by our government that are horribly unjust and need to be changed.  Calling on Christians to address just one small part of that nasty package is not just inconsistent.  Such changes would probably just make a bad situation even worse.

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