Tag Archives: Christian groups

“The Christian Perspective on Immigration”

I was struck by the beginning of this article published at the website of the anti-immigration group, Center for Immigration Studies:

What are They Thinking: A Look at the Roman Catholic “Doctrine” on Immigration

It takes little effort to notice and to conclude that the Roman Catholic Church has, in the past few years, intensified its lobbying on behalf of immigrants and thus has intensified its lobbying on behalf of “comprehensive immigration reform”.1 Indeed, it can be argued that “comprehensive immigration reform”, as envisioned by the Church and by those who stand in agreement with her, is designed primarily to benefit immigrants, especially illegal immigrants, more than it is designed to benefit the current national population.2

The Church’s lobbying stems from, dare I say, an erroneous application, in the political sphere, of the Christian perspective on immigration. The Christian perspective on immigration makes no distinction between legal and illegal. Actually, allow me to be more precise: the Christian perspective on immigrants makes no distinction between legal and illegal. The Christian perspective on immigrants makes no distinction between legal and illegal because the Christian perspective per se does not see “immigrant” but sees “child of God”.

St. Paul, in a letter to the Christian community in Galatia, dated somewhere between 50 and 58 AD, articulates well this deeper perspective: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” One could easily add: “neither legal immigrant nor illegal immigrant”.3 This is a properly Christian perspective, a faith perspective that considers each individual in the light of the One considered to be the God-man, Jesus Christ, beyond human categories. Edwin O’Brien, then-Archbishop of Baltimore, articulated this perspective in a letter4 about illegal immigrants dated July 16, 2008: “Dare we look at these human beings as made in the image and likeness of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ? Dare we look at them, in other words, with and through the eyes of Christ for whom no one is illegal, no one alien, no one a criminal who labors honestly to feed his family?”

Yet in spite of this, and of a lot of quotes illustrating the Church hierarchy’s fervor on the subject of immigration, the author of the article opposes the Catholic Church’s position. The author’s argument is difficult for me to follow, because some of it seems to rely on the reader to just dismiss the Roman Catholic view as absurd. I might do well to quote this paragraph, so that I don’t overstate the extent to which the Catholic Church agrees with me: Continue reading ““The Christian Perspective on Immigration”” »

“I Was a Stranger and You Took Me In…”

That Christian churches have been a force for change at many times in history, no one can deny. Concerning how often and how important, there is a huge range of opinion. Probably the most ardent Christian social reformers would be the first to admit that Christian churches have usually been deplorably, tragically tardy in pushing for social reforms that in retrospect are obvious. On immigration, I would like to see the churches take a much stronger role than they have. On the other hand, it seems to me that to the extent that churches do take stands on these issues they are consistently on the liberal (in the best sense) and humane side of the spectrum, relative to America’s political center of gravity. The below article is a case in point.

New York Times: Evangelical Groups Call for New Stance on Illegal Immigration

Some of the nation’s most influential evangelical groups urged a solution to illegal immigration on Tuesday that defies the harsh rhetoric of the Republican primary race, which continues to undermine Mitt Romney’s appeal to Hispanic voters.

The call by the groups represents a recognition that in one bedrock element of the conservative movement — evangelical Christians — the demography of their followers is changing, becoming more Hispanic, and that Republican leaders risk being out of step with their hawkish talk of border fences and immigration crackdowns like those in Arizona.

Tom Minnery, the senior vice president of policy for one evangelical group, Focus on the Family, said many of the 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants should be free to “come out of the shadows” and “begin the process of restitution” leading to attaining legal residency.

Mr. Minnery spoke at a Capitol Hill news conference called to announce that more than 150 Christian evangelical leaders, including from the Southern Baptist Convention and the National Association of Evangelicals, were endorsing an overhaul of immigration policy.

The evangelical leaders expressed opposition to such notions as “self-deportation,” which Mr. Romney favored in a Republican debate and which urges strict enforcement of laws to encourage illegal immigrant workers to leave the country.

A pro-reform movement has been percolating among evangelical groups for the past two to three years, with organizations and churches that align with Republicans on issues like abortion and gay marriage supporting President Obama on immigration reform.

The National Association of Evangelicals, which represents more than 40 denominations, passed a resolution calling for a comprehensive immigration overhaul in 2009. The Southern Baptist Convention did so last year.

It called for “just, fair immigration reform,” said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptists’ ethics commission, who also attended Tuesday’s news conference.

“It passed with at least an 80 percent vote,” he said, “and four of five Southern Baptists is about as good as you’re going to get on any given day on anything.”

But Focus on the Family, the radio ministry based in Colorado, was a newcomer to the cause of an immigration overhaul.