"I fail to understand why my fellow Baptists in Alabama were not (and are not!) chomping at the bit, getting ready to combat the immigration law."

2097 reads

There are 10 Comments

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I think the writer needs to rethink the situation starting with some more basic questions: what is a nation and what distinguishes one nation from another?
What is the meaning of a border?
What is the meaning of citizenship in a nation vs. presence in a nation of which you are not a citizen?

These are a few of the factors that make immigration law not parallel to the civil rights struggles of the 20th century.

(To make it more personal, I would love to ask some immigration-chaos advocates if they lock their front doors. Why? If someone is hungry and you have food in your kitchen why should it matter that they do not live in your house? Isn't it "Christian" to invite all to raid your kitchen at will?)

Shaynus's picture

http://www.aolnews.com/2011/03/08/alabama-house-bill-56-the-immigrant-tr...

There are some summaries of the law out there. I do consider this to be an unjust law, at least in this one particular.

Quote:
Knowingly transporting an illegal alien, even to a doctor, would become a crime under HB 56.

The burden should not be on churches, aid workers, or good samaritans to check the immigration status of a person before giving assistance. Human life is more important than any immigration status.

Robert Byers's picture

A law that criminalized unknowningly transporting an illegal would place a burden to check immigration status. A law such as this that only penalizing knowingly doing so carries no such burden.

Shaynus's picture

Robert Byers wrote:
A law that criminalized unknowningly transporting an illegal would place a burden to check immigration status. A law such as this that only penalizing knowingly doing so carries no such burden.

I know what you mean in a technical sense. The problem is that law enforcement doesn't always get intentions right. Those who take even apparent illegal immigrants for rides still face legal exposure. Anyone could claim a person knows legal status, and it's easy to see how the law would discourage helping a neighbor in trouble if that meant a possibility of going to jail.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I'm confused. The quote in post #2 says "knowingly transporting," then you complain that people would have to check immigration status.
If you don't check, you don't "know" ... so does the law say "knowingly" or not?

Shaynus's picture

The way a law is written is often different from the perhaps unintended consequences it creates. The law says knowingly, but if I pick the immigrant up, I would be opening myself to legal exposure. Someone (say an Alabama police officer who hates illegals) could claim I did it knowingly and I would be in trouble at least for a time. What is the standard for "knowingly?" How much do you have to know or not know?

The point is that laws such as this make people think twice about whether to do the right thing. It's unjust. I should be able to help save someone's life by taking them to the hospital, even knowing that they're here illegally. Immigration status should be worked out later, after the person is stabilized.

jlamarcrowder's picture

I'm from Alabama and support the immigration law. Most faith leaders in Alabama don't support it but I'm proud of Gov. Bentley. We are not doing illegal immigrants any favors by providing them aide which keeps them in poverty here in Alabama while our services as both the Church and community are rationed already to take care of so many needs. I'd never deny an illegal immigrant aide no matter the law but I'm under no illusions that doing so is actually helping the situation. I'd prefer the law be applied and Mexico or whatever nation take care of it's own citizens. We in the U.S. can't solve the worlds problems by fighting there battles and taking on people they don't want. We have too much national debt and a host of problems.

MarkClements's picture

I get that a college student at a Baptist school has an opinion but his article seems to beg a simple question--why should "faith leaders" or churches be involved at all? Individual citizens have every right (obligation?) to be involved in the political process, but "Baptists" and churches shouldn't be anywhere near this thing.

What possible reason could a church have for standing for or against an immigration law? We minister to anyone we can. We aren't INS agents and no one is asking us to function in that way. I understand the thorny complications of ministering to illegals and I get that it can be a matter of conscience. Pastors need to consider what they will do if they are faced with situations involving illegals. They should have a plan BEFORE they are faced with the situation. How will you minister? What will you do if they confide that they are illegal. Their plight can be heart-rending and you need to respond objectively, not in the emotion of the situation.

HOWEVER, churches should not be anywhere near this debate. If you stand up for illegal immigrants, what do you do with passages regarding the Christian and government? If you stand against, then you will leave yourself open to charges of being unloving or too tied to the government to minister to people. Entering this arena will brand you as an "issue" church instead of a Gospel church.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion on this hot topic but why would churches inject themselves into this debate? We need to be busy about advancing the Kingdom of Christ, not helping or hindering the government with immigration.

James Bliss's picture

I agree with Mark regarding church involvement in politics (not talking about personal, individual political opinions and beliefs).

There was a question/theme in another foundry discussion thread about the youth and their falling away or not coming to Church. Form talking with a youth I am very close to, it is obvious that a lot of the political activity which churches get involved in are discouraging the youth from coming to church. Rather than even give church a chance they immediately brand all churches the same due to the many politically active church leaders and congregations and the perceived hypocrisy which these young people see. Right or wrong, this is a reason I have observed. It has also placed a HUGE hurdle in my way of discussing Christ with this person. They immediately want to end the conversation rather than become engaged in it and mention the hypocrisy which they have seen, whether real or fancied.

As to right or wrong vs. the law. I have always attempted (failed some times) to choose the right thing to do. The existence of a law has never discouraged me (and rarely comes to mind) when a situation comes up regarding the law. Sorry to stretch this a little further than the literal, but let Caesar have what is Caesar's.

Further, into the political morass, the politically active candidates who hang their hats on various religious tenets have become an embarrassment. They divorce, cheat on their spouses, steal/embezzle, or something else which causes an appearance of impropriety to exist (whether real or implied). This results in a complete lack of credibility of the churches and religious people who supported this person, usually merely because of the support.

To cut to the chase, Churches need to avoid politics (did the early churches run to Caesar regularly for laws to be passed or protest in the streets their disagreement with Caesar's mandates?) and need to focus on doing the right thing (from an individual and corporate point of view) regardless of the consequences.

Anne Sokol's picture

I don't think being a gospel-centered church and getting involved in certain political issues is inherently oppositional. Maybe the one leads to the other?

It can be a really sticky issue. Here in Ukraine, we were asked to help a lady who had one child and was pg with a second. She was a foreigner and her husband a national. But she didn't have proper documents to be here (was illegal), so getting her real help through govt agencies was pretty much impossible. We ended up sending her to a Catholic home b/c the govt homes couldn't accept her (b/c of lack of proper documents).

During this whole deal, I had this moment of insight where God, in the OT, so often told the Israelites to care for the foreigners. I am a relatively wealthy foreigner, so I usually have no need for nationals to help me--I can pay for the help I need or return to my homeland. But for foreigners who are dependents, they take the category of orphans and widows--those we help who cannot help themselves or repay us, so we help them by faith, trusting God to supply for us all.

I know that illegal immigration is a major political issue, but there are spiritual dimensions to it also, so I wouldn't just brush it off as an un-gospel activity for a church to be involved in. I think the writer has this in mind.