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Immigration

Dear Franklin Graham, Please Leave the Ministry

Seriously, sir – it’s time to go. You seem more interested in political ranting than in doing any real ministry. Let’s take your recent rant calling for America to stop allowing Muslim immigrants into the U.S. You said:

FranklinGrahamWe must reform our immigration policies in the United States. We cannot allow Muslim immigrants to come across our borders unchecked while we are fighting this war on terror. If we continue to allow Muslim immigration, we’ll see much more of what happened in Paris—it’s on our doorstep. France and Europe are being overrun by young Muslim men from the Middle East, and they do not know their backgrounds or their motives and intentions. Islam is not a peaceful religion as George W. Bush told us and as President Barack Obama has said—that is just not true. Our president and our politicians in Washington need to wake up before it’s too late. This is not the time to be politically correct. Our nation’s security is at stake. The future of our children and grandchildren is at stake. We should not allow any political or religious group who want to destroy us and our way of life to immigrate to this country. Right now let us continue to pray for the victims and family members of the ‪#‎parisattacks.

I have three major problems with your statement.

First, your statement is about American policy and has nothing to do with ministry. You head the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. You are not a voice of a conservative political caucus.

Second, you are conflating politics and faith. You give a very harsh political statement about immigration policy and end it with a call to prayer. Are you NOW trying to switch back into the role of spiritual leader? If you want to play politician, leave the ministry. If you want to be a spiritual leader, stop using a ministry platform to push political ideology.

Third, your attitude is explicitly contrary to the Bible. Yup – I’ll say that part again. Your statement is in direct opposition to the attitude of the Bible. The Bible actually has a lot to say about foreigners. For example:

The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” (Genesis 17:8)

“I am a foreigner and stranger among you. Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead.” (Genesis 23:4)

The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you.” (Exodus 12:49)

“Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt. (Exodus 22:21)

“Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt. (Exodus 23:9)

 “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.  You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:33-34)

Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. (Jeremiah 22:3)

You see, God’s people have been foreigners before. We’re supposed to understand what it’s like to be displaced – living in a world that is not our own. Because of our understanding we’re supposed to be sympathetic to the foreigner and alien. But instead of looking to treat them well, you look to treat Muslims with fear and disdain.

God COMMANDS that we treat well the foreigners living among us. I Turkey syrian refugees kurdsknow, I know, you’re technically talking about immigration, not the foreigners who are living among us. But let’s follow your line of reasoning to its conclusion. What about the Muslims who are already within our borders? You would seem to advocate removing all of them, because we can’t possibly know all of their backgrounds, motives, or intentions.

You say, “This is not the time to be politically correct.” You should change that to say, “This is not the time to be biblically correct.” I’d love to see your proposed plan to airports receiving flights from other nations:

Are you a Christian? Welcome to America! Are you a Muslim? Go, home, terrorist!

Your rhetoric is cheap and encourages both fear and animosity towards non-Christians. Please stop the charade and stop claiming to represent Jesus to the world. Run for office.

Leave the ministry.

You’re Breaking the Law But You Want the Church to Protect You?

Breaking the Law

Recently I read an article from MSN about a man who was ordered to be legally deported out of the U.S. back to Mexico. Instead of surrendering himself to the authorities, he took refuge in a church and sought sanctuary. As it stands now the government is not immediately taking action.

For some reason I can’t get Homer Simpson out of my head yelling out, “SANCTUARY! SANCTUARY!” and Reverend Lovejoy muttering to himself, “Why did I ever teach him that word?”

In all seriousness, though, I get that how we deal with illegal immigration is a hot topic for many.

The Bible calls us to treat well the foreigner in our midst. At the same time, I believe that Christians are called to be law abiding citizens (when the law doesn’t conflict with the Bible).

I understand the desire to help people, but I don’t think that the church should be getting involved in politically assisting people who break the law. I’m not cold-hearted, and I would see exceptions being granted for unjust, unethical, or immoral laws, but for all intents and purposes, we should not be assisting criminals – even in the name of grace and mercy.

Our primary purpose as the church is spiritual, not to protect people from the law. I’m reminded of the baptism scene from “O Brother Where Art Thou?”

Delmar thinks that his earthly crimes are no longer held against him because of his baptism. Later on his companion has to tell him that, though God may have forgiven him, the state will take a different view.

Ed Stetzer once wrote, “When you mix faith and politics you get politics.” We in the church ought to help the disenfranchised and show kindness to those who hurt and suffer. I don’t think the church should get involved in the political arena as much as it has been (especially in the U.S.). Where do we draw the line? For what crimes will we offer sanctuary? When will we turn people away?

It’s hard to balance demonstrating love and practically governing a nation. I don’t pretend to have all the answers on this issue, and I recognize that good Christian people will have different opinions. So I’m asking you:

What do you think? (keep it civil, keep it nice, and keep it from being racist…)

Related Post:
Christianity and Immigration Reform

Obama, Christianity and Immigration Reform

Image courtesy of twobee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of twobee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The news is reporting that Mr. Obama is moving to shield millions of illegal immigrants. It seems the Left and the Right are back at it – fighting for their particular view of what is right.

Before I even began to write this post I knew that immigration reform is a very charged topic. I also no that there is no monolithic Christian perspective on the issue. In fact, immigration is largely a national issue and not so much a spiritual one. That is to say, the bible never addresses how to handle immigration reform. The Bible DOES talk about foreigners and aliens and how to treat them. The Bible also addresses how to help those in need. Those are the issues we’ll look at today. Do you remember that movie Short Circuit from a while back? It’s about the robot that comes alive and has personality. The movie is filled with issues of identity: identity we give ourselves and identity given to us by others.short circuit On of my favorite scenes has two of the main characters talking and one asks the other about his identity – his heritage.

The white guy asks his (seemingly obvious) co-worker from India: “Where are you from?” To which his colleague responds: “Pittsburgh, originally.” 🙂

The passenger had a whole heap of presupposed ideas about his friend’s identity. This is part of our problem when it comes to immigration. We assume an “us vs. them” attitude. In the Old Testament we find that God gladly welcomes foreigners and aliens into the community of faith. Not only were they welcome but God saw to it that there were treated fairly and without discrimination.

God loves Foreigner?!?
God loves Foreigner?!?

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. ~ Leviticus 19:33-34 There is no room for an “other-than” mentality – they become us. Many Americans seem to hold to an immigration policy that embraces this wrong thinking. Heck, we still struggle with oppression and discrimination among natural-born citizens. The foreigner doesn’t stand a chance.

But God’s people are supposed to act fairly and inclusively no matter what. The New Testament letter of James tells us that our words need to match our actions. If we believe in a God that cares about people then so should we. It does no good to wish someone well if we fail to back up those words with our actions. I know that James wasn’t addressing international politics but I do believe that his words ought to make us think twice about how we behave towards foreigners looking to move to America.

While it may seem that I am in favor of flinging wide our national borders to any and all comers, I am not. I think that legal immigration should be embraced. I think that illegal immigration should be quashed. During the Exodus, when God freed Israel from slavery in Egypt, God made a provision to care for foreigners. The only stipulation was that Israel’s law would apply to the foreigners as well. In this case it meant circumcision. That’s a steep price to pay for citizenship! If foreigners want to legally immigrate and make our laws their laws I believe we should welcome them whole-heartedly.

Where I personally draw the line is when people look to circumvent laws for their own betterment. When all is said and done I know there is no easy answer or fix to immigration reform. I know that Christians will approach the issue from several perspectives and reach differing conclusions.

Regardless of how America addresses the issue as a nation, I believe Christians need to wrestle with these Bible verses and ask if we’re treating people the way God would want us to treat them. And remember – go back far enough and we’re all from somewhere else (even the “Native Americans”).

How about you? Have you given any thought to how God wants you to treat foreigners and aliens?

Related Posts:

You’re Breaking the Law But You Want the Church to Protect You?

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