To whom much is given, much is expected

Q: Illegal immigrants are flouting U.S. laws, but does affluent America (or Arizona for that matter) have a larger moral … Continued

Q: Illegal immigrants are flouting U.S. laws, but does affluent America (or Arizona for that matter) have a larger moral or spiritual obligation to help illegal immigrants who are trying to better their lives? What about religious obligations to welcome the stranger? Are we our brother’s keeper?

While I don’t thank God for being an American, since I don’t believe there’s a God to thank, I do appreciate some humanistic biblical passages, like Luke 12:48, “To whom much is given, much is expected.”

I recognize how fortunate I am to have been born in a country and into a family where I had ample opportunities to attain a decent education and standard of living. What should we do about those to whom much is not given, whether born in this or another country? Those opposed to helping illegal immigrants also seem less charitably disposed toward some of our least fortunate Americans.

(To give but one example, Americans who want to abolish estate taxes use the misnomer “death taxes,” and have as a silent mantra, “To whom much is given, much more should be given.” Passing tax-free wealth to the next generation of family members who have been financially privileged since birth is nothing more than welfare for the rich. In fact, any estate can provide more than adequate tax-free support for family members, as long as the remainder of the multi-millions goes to charitable causes.)

As bad as things are for some of our poorest Americans, they are worse for illegal immigrants, who live in the shadows of our bountiful American plenty. As a humanist, I believe I should be my brother’s and my sister’s keeper. It is pure chance of birth that many of us, myself included, are not sneaking into other countries to find jobs because our own country can’t provide the work we are willing to do to feed our families.

We cannot open our borders to everyone, but we can provide a rational process consistent with available jobs. We know we can employ millions of illegal immigrants, because we already do. They are grateful for even the most menial jobs (dishwashing, farm work, lawn care). Further, the status of illegal immigrants keeps their wages so low that most Americans think such work is beneath them.

Some Americans take pride in having pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. Let’s at least give immigrants some bootstraps with which they can pull themselves up. It’s the humanistic thing to do and, I believe, a precept in most religions.

Herb Silverman
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  • WmarkW

    The economics of illegal immigration is that while they might be good for America as a whole, they’re a drain on the states and localities in which they live. Hence, the federal government doesn’t have much incentive to enforce the border, it’s a burden on a state like Arizona to have to provide them bilingual education and guaranteed health care.A community near me started an illegal crackdown after residents complained about Hispanic-looking men:slaughtering chickens in their backyardDon’t try lecturing THEM about how good illegal immigrants are for America in its entirety.

  • fhay26

    I agree with the sentiment about the need to help those in need, which is what Dr. Silverman is discussing. What concerns me, however, is that he doesn’t deal with the monetary costs associated with this problem and how to pay for it. He also implies that it is my duty to undertake this financial burden and that the government has the right to take from me, whether I like it or not, to give to someone else; whereas I see it as a need for my charity which only I can choose.

  • LorettaHaskell

    It has always been interesting to me that many individuals who complain that they are unfairly taxed do not want to acknowledge the advantages they have received in birth and education. They complain that they are supporting a community of foreigners less committed to enterprise and equity than themselves. Their attitude is often accompanied by a lack of understanding and empathy toward the difficulties that modern-day immigrants encounter in our country. How will we get along if the hard-right political perspective on immigration makes its way into law? I am certain America will not be the better for it.

  • Athena4

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A large influx of people from a foreign country comes to America because of economic problems in their home country. They flood into American cities, crowding into small apartments, bringing crime, refusing to assimilate into the wider American culture, and have loads of babies. Men work in construction and fight our wars. Women work as domestics or child care. That is, when they can get work, because “real Americans” have put up barriers to their employment. Mexicans in the 2000’s? Nope. Irish in the 1840’s-60’s.

  • fhay18

    Amen, Herb. This is such a complex problem beginning with a religion that forbids use of birth control. Do we just throw compassion out the window?

  • dangeroustalk

    As an atheist I hear a lot of Christians tell me about God’s absolute views on various issues. Oddly enough, God can seem to communicate his view on those issues very well. For example, on the issue of illegal immigration, there are some extremely vocal Christians on both sides of the debate. While different Christians can quote various Bible verses to support whatever position they choose, this issue really goes to the heart of religion itself. To put it simply, religion is a form of tribalism. It is a way of solidifying the in-group and demonizing the out-group. In the case of Christianity, the out-group might be accepted if they completely change who they are and are converted into the in-group. You can read the rest of my response to this topic:I will be responding to every issue posted in the ‘On Faith’ section. If you would like to be notified when my new response is up, please subscribe.

  • dnamedley62108

    Herb,Now, I read what you said about how you are a humanist and atheist, so you probably don’t want to hear about how I believe in the God of the Bible, but I assume you would be open minded enough to read this.I am 24 years old and I live in Southern Arkansas–you are probably thinking Bible Belt kid, right? Well, I guess you could say that.Anyway, I’m trying to keep this short and sweet, but I believe this verse was taken out of context. When Jesus was teaching this, he did not mean for this to be used in the political arena. He basically meant “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”We all want to be treated fairly in life. I do not believe in mistreating any race, Latinos for that matter, but the Bible does say that people are to obey the laws of the land. If Latin Americans want to be respected in this country, they should at least try to go about it legally. I mean all the other immigrants have to do this don’t they?I believe in working for what you get and I think they should do the same instead of thinking that we owe them a free ride.Anyway, I am sorry to hear that you do not believe in God. I guess humanists are their own gods being that you do not believe in sin, so I guess you see no need for a Savior. Bottom line–this is what all of humanity’s problems boil down to. We all need a Savior because we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 8:28).Whether you believe it or not, God loves you and sent His son to die for you, for me, and all of mankind.”If you change your mind about God, and want to accept Him as Savior just ask Him. (Romans 10:13) If you would like to know more you may email me at

  • pelicanwatchcb

    Once again, secular humanists prove far more ethical in their treatment of others than the majority of religionists. Thanks, Herb.