Evangelicals for immigration reform

Like tens of thousands of other Americans, I’ll be in Washington D.C. this Sunday in the March for America rally … Continued

Like tens of thousands of other Americans, I’ll be in Washington D.C. this Sunday in the March for America rally on behalf of undocumented immigrants. The Evangelical congregation which my wife and I have the privilege of pastoring is taking our worship on the road . At 6 a.m. we are getting on a chartered bus to Washington D.C. for the March for America gathering. Many of the faithful at the church, along with thousands of Evangelicals, believe that marching on behalf of some of the most vulnerable is a form of worship. In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “the church is only the church when it exists for the other.” So we are going to wake-up early not to go to church but to “be church” at the National Mall with close to 100,000 people.

Many well-meaning Americans have some legitimate questions about comprehensive immigration reform and wonder why clergy and other people of faith are advocating for it. So let me respond to what I believe are some of the most pressing questions about immigration reform and its impact on the U.S.:

The economic question: They are a burden on our tax and economic system; Why don’t they go home? Studies show that the close to 12 million undocumented immigrants, many of whom already pay taxes and Social Security, want to continue to contribute to the system. Comprehensive immigration reform should require these immigrants to pay back taxes, learn English, and wait in line behind the people who entered legally. The system as is does not allow for this integration nor does it address unscrupulous employers who exploit cheap labor. A new system that requires these immigrants to integrate and employers and employees to pay taxes will add hundreds of millions of dollars to the economy. The status quo does not in any way address this challenge; reform does. Reform can help the economy.The U.S. can have the creative genius to make this a win-win for all.

The culture question: This is going to fundamentally change U.S. culture. Will America be radically different?Studies show that most immigrants want to learn English and contribute to the larger mosaic of U.S. culture. In addition, the United States has always been a nation of immigrants that allows for diversity without balkanization. This is one of the great values of the U.S. “E pluribus Unum- out of many one.” Moreover, history shows that cultures are enriched and deepened through respectful mutual encounter.

The moral question: How do we balance respect for the rule of law and compassion for all people? This is a fair question. I think we should respect the law and that’s why any reform should include requiring: Paying back-taxes, penalties to employers who may have circumvented the system, and borders being controlled and supervised in humane ways. Nevertheless, what do we do with the 12 million men, women, and children that are already here? Deportation is not reasonable and it remains beyond our economic capacities. In short, reform must include both respect for the rule of law and a way that integrates all people in common sense ways.

The faith question: What does the Church or my faith have to do with it? Simply stated, as a Christian I am mandated to love my neighbor as myself without prejudice to origin, color, or creed. Jesus himself reminds Christians to “welcome the stranger” in Matthew 25. In addition, the Torah of the Hebrew Scriptures reminds us continually to be kind and merciful to the stranger, widow, and orphan. In the end a nation is judged by how it treats the most vulnerable among them. My faith compels me to speak with the immigrants and their families.

Immigration reform is a moral issue that requires us to live up to the highest of our values. This is not an easy issue but I will march because I believe that our country has the moral capacity to welcome immigrants. If Christ welcomed me unconditionally should I do any less with others? So on Sunday in a peaceful manner I will repeat the words on Lady Liberty written by Emma Lazarus with tens of thousands of my fellow human beings : “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

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  • Norski

    Matthew 25 is a call to charity, not a call to forgive law breaking behavior. Apparently these “Christian Activists” fail to see the difference between welcoming the legal, law abiding Stranger and welcoming the law-breaking Illegal Immigrant. Have they forgotten Christianity expects and equal dose of responsibility and accountability for every exhortation of love thy neighbor?Conversely, I am unaware of any place in the Bible where God says go forth and commit crimes – identity theft, fraud, illegal entry. Nor have I found a passage that says the ends justify the means.It says in the Bible that “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him”. Maybe I missed something, but to date I have not seen any Illegal Immigrants come forward and turn themselves in to authorities, saying forgive me. Instead, I see many unrepentant Illegal Immigrants who have plenty of excuses as to why they broke the law, who continue to use false documents, who have plenty of demands to change our law, and who are quick to demand their rights. Is not breaking the law because you covet something your neighbor has a sin? Is not identity fraud bearing false witness and thus a sin? Thus is not forgiving unrepentant sin the same as condoning that sin, and thus participating in that sin? Or are those Ten Commandments and other pronouncements against breaking the law like Romans 13: 1-2 or 1 Peter 2: 13-14 or John 10:1 or Leviticus 19:11, 15, & 17 just pesky guidelines to be ignored when inconvenient?

  • Cryos

    I do have an issue with this statement; it no longer applies. “So on Sunday in a peaceful manner I will repeat the words on Lady Liberty written by Emma Lazarus with tens of thousands of my fellow human beings : “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!””When this statement was made you had to provide for yourself and the nation had no substantial debt. Bringing in the poor and the hungry, uneducated, not speaking the language with no job skills now equals slavery for working americans due to all the welfare and assistance programs. I do agree with most of your other points although I think the more liberal elements are looking for amnesty; not putting illegals in the back of the line.

  • Revnerd

    Or, Norski, how about that pesky passage from Leviticus 19:33-34? The law of the land violates it. So, believers must decide when and where God commands them to disobey.The Bible says: “We must obey God rather than man.” Acts 5:29.If the law of the land is unjust, or a direct contradiction to the God’s word, then Christians have a moral responsibility otherwise. Leviticus 19:33-34, Matthew 25 are pretty clear that God will judge the nation that doesn’t love everyone “as their neighbor.” In the Leviticus passage, God reminds the Jews that they were a people fleeing from oppression, poverty and seeking freedom. God reminds them that He provided respite for them, even had them destroy the Amalekites for not providing respite, when they were fleeing their homeland. Then God says, when you have dispossed the people, you MUST give equal chances to any alien or stranger who comes to you. He calls them neighbor.We have dispossed the indeginous population -without any divine mandate- and now we refuse to give respite to others? Given the “Sheep and Goats” warnings in Matthew 25, I believe that God’s principles of Social Justice take precidence. For me, and feel free to believe as you would, but those “pesky scriptures” are pesky because they remind me of what Matthew 7:20-23 says: “We can recite correct theology, preach teach, even do miracles in the name of Jesus and still not know Him.”What does it mean to know God? Look at Jeremiah 22:15-16.Let us not fall for a Civil religion that confuses Patriotism with our deep faith. Believers are first and foremost members of the Kingdom of God and participation in that Kingdom commands mercy to every neighbor, even the ones marginalized as “illegals.”

  • PSolus

    Quite a bible battle going on here.Too bad it was written so poorly that even the bible-believers can’t agree on what it says.

  • usapdx

    To all of you that came to the USA correctly by USA law and became USA citzens , I welcome you and hope you have a happy new life in YOUR new country, the U.S.A.. To all of you that sneaked into the USA are illegal and violated the USA law. You are a libility not only to the USA but the American taxpayer. The only person that profits from you is your illegal employeers that pay you scab wages as you take employment from Americans. The groups that speakout for you which is a politcal matter and turn around and pay no taxes account they claim to be tax exampt by tax exampt law have violated the laws rules. It time the American people tell their members of congress to repeal the tax exampt law account of all the violations. The 14th amendment was written for people that enter the USA NOT BY THEIR OWN FREE WILL. Read Dred Scott case of 1857 by Chief Justice Taney. In the U.S.A.,we have a goverment of the people, by the people, and for the people. No religon is of this goverment but we are a nation under GOD which is GOD of all religions.

  • Norski

    Revnerd – If you want to get technical, Leviticus 19:33-34 is fully supported by our treatment of Legal Immigrants. You know; those people who do not violate the law to come to the USA and live among us. Many references in the Bible support sanctions against those who choose to commit crimes, including those crimes necessary to remain illegally in the USA.As for the passage in Acts 5, you have completely taken it out of context. Here is the full passage: 27Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28″We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” 29Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! 30The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree.At my church we were taught that quoting the Bible out of context to create a false impression is sinful. But it goes even further than that. Luke 20: 45 Then, in the hearing of all the people, He said to His disciples, 46 “Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, 47 who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.”And as for Jeremiah, I have also read the following verses:Romans 13: 1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.1 Peter 2: 13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lords sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.John 10 Parable of the Good Shepherd: 1 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber.Luke 17: 3Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him,Leviticus 19:11 – “Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not deceive one another.”Leviticus 19:15 – “Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.”Leviticus 19:17 – “Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt.”The day that you begin rebuking Illegal Immigrants for having broken the law and begin demanding that they face the consequences of their illegal actions is the day your hypocrisy begins to diminish.

  • FarnazMansouri

    I am not amused. You folks are in competition with Vatican Nation to add to your legions of lunies. You are using desperate people and alienating many Americans in the process.Shame on you.

  • YEAL9

    Gabriel Salguero is unfortunately just another “Mythian”.To wit:All followers of religion are actually “Mythians” considering the mythical foundations of the major religions i.e. there was no Abraham, no Moses, no Noah, no Easter, no virgin birth, no Moroni and no Gabriel and therefore no angelic revelations to Joe Smith, Mary or Mohammed.

  • YEAL9

    Gabriel Salguero is unfortunately just another “Mythian”.To wit:All followers of religion are actually “Mythians” considering the mythical foundations of the major religions i.e. there was no Abraham, no Moses, no Noah, no Easter, no virgin birth, no Moroni and no Gabriel and therefore no angelic revelations to Joe Smith, Mary or Mohammed.

  • Counterww

    REVNERD-You are trying to pound a square peg into a round hole. There is only so much money. We are in the worst recession in 60 years.That said, I don’t have a problem , with a program, as long as the borders are enforced. No more influx, we can’t afford it.CCNL- SHUT UP already.