Friday, May 04, 2007

What?!? "Christian" Groups Calling Immigrants Bad Role Models

Another day, another Christian "pro-family" group bashing immigrants. This time, it is the accusation that illegal immigrants are being bad parents:

"Open-borders proponents are once again ratcheting up their calls for the U.S. Congress to provide a so-called "path to citizenship" for millions of illegal aliens. But Phil Magnan, director of Biblical Family Advocates, says the illegal immigrant movement in America is teaching children that they do not have to submit to the governing authorities."

For the full article, click here:

Here's my off the cuff reply, in all it's rambling, stream-of-consciousness glory:

Immigration is certainly a complicated and contentious issue. However, your piece about how illegal immigration encourages lawlessness is 100% off base. First of all, if you were really pro-family, you'd realize that our current immigration system is horribly broken and separates families. (Too bad they are not white, American, middle class, Christian families, or maybe you'd be in a huff about that and be supporting them instead of calling them bad parents.) You also would realize how poverty outside of America is often due - in large part - to our own trade policies that harm hardworking families in other nations and make it difficult if not impossible for people, especially subsistence farmers, to get by in the face of US agricultural subsidies and foreign markets flooded with US crops. Use common sense - people from other nations would not literally risk their lives to come here unless they truly felt they had no other options. If you had to steal a loaf of bread to feed your dying child, would you do it? (I caution you before you answer too quickly, having likely never known hunger like some know hunger, and having never seen your own flesh and blood die in your arms.) More than that, what if your neighbor were fat and gluttonous and had warehouses full of bread but still refused to give you any unless you waited in a long line, paid a lot of money, and jumped through a lot of arbitrary hoops? That is the US and other nations. My Bible has much more to say about the poor in that scenario, not the rich. Who are we to hoard our goods while others perish? Who are we to build storehouses for our goods when tonight we are smitten by God? The inequality in the world is horrendous and grieving to God, and regardless of how we got to this point, God now calls us to sell all we have and give it to the poor, not demonize men and women who simply want a better life for their kids.

We must see the interconnectedness in this issue. People who come are not lawless as you say; they are hungry and desperate and even, in your words, "pro-family." Stop trying to paint them as lawless and maybe show some compassion to the needy. Who knows... you could even befriend someone and hear their story, get to know their family, and find out how "lawless" and "anti-family" they are. What they are for is not having their family starve or die. They are also for wanting better lives for their families. That seems pro-family to me.

It is so easy to sit in your high and mighty throne and throw stones at the folks at the bottom who are trying to make it. I don't know what Bible you read, but mine doesn't say anything about only caring for American families. Actually, it doesn't have America in it at all. God sees no color or nationality, and neither should his church, especially when it comes to those in need. I think we as the church should be erring on the side of compassion and mercy, not legalism. Sounds like Phariseeism to me. My God isn't short of cash or worried about border security; he is the one who welcomed the children unto him and challenged the religious and political authorities for their legalism while forgetting the needs of the people. I am ashamed of the myriad of pro-family groups that claim my Christian faith but only peddle xenophobia, hate-mongering, and confuse being an American with being a Christian. The Catholic Church is way out ahead on this when it called for its folks to love and care for the stranger among us, regardless of "status" (see your Bibles, Deuteronomy 10:18-19, Leviticus 19:33-34, and Matthew 25:31-46). Also, too many Christians who are Republican boosters are too quick to point to Romans 13 when they have the political scepter, forgetting that Jesus himself was a political martyr and the water of the early church was the blood of the martyrs. (I am sure you'll hide Romans 13 next time a Democrat gets elected; being the lapdog of one party makes it easy to confuse loyalties.) Maybe we are too closely in bed with the ruling class that we've forgotten the radical and counter-cultural nature of our own Bibles and our own faith. We are called to be respectful, but we are also called to God's law over man's, and these verses - Isaiah 10:1-4, Jeremiah 7:1-7, Acts 5:29 - tell us to oppose unjust laws and systems that harm and oppress people made in God’s image, especially the vulnerable. Immigrants qualify on every count. My God - as I find him in the Bible - is one on the side of the poor, not the establishment. He cares for the least and says they shall be first. Based on my Bible, I look forward to a heaven when Lazarus and immigrants - trampled under foot for so long - get Abraham's bosom, and all the groups that purport to be Christian but who oppress the poor of all nationalities and find ways to cut out the poor and show loyalty to the powerful answer to God as he is revealed in his own Bible.


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