Sen. Hillary Clinton has said House-passed immigration enforcement legislation “would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself.”
Thus the New York senator made her contribution to a string of liberal Bible-babble: Democratic Chairman Howard Dean’s calling the Old Testament book of Job his favorite New Testament book, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s assertion that many Democrats “do” politics according to the gospel of Matthew (whatever that means), Pelosi’s charge that voting for the GOP budget was a “sin.”
Not exactly the way to round up traditional-values Christian votes, folks. A hint: It would help if you (1) actually believed the Christian Scripture is God’s true and inerrant word, rather than manipulating it as a political prop; and (2) actually read the Bible and got to know the 66 books, the 150 Psalms, the Ten Commandments, the four Gospels, etc.
Like Clinton’s gaffe, the U.S. Catholic hierarchy is engaging in this brand of bearing false witness. Roger Cardinal Mahony and his ilk have grossly mischaracterized the same provision in H.R. 4437 that Clinton referenced. Mahony distorted the anti-human trafficking measure as “criminaliz[ing] even minor acts of mercy like offering a meal or administering first aid.” That’s patently false. He then stated “the church supports” the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill.
In fact, the House measure would require someone both to know or willfully remain ignorant of someone’s immigration status, and to give assistance that helps an illegal alien “remain in the United States.”
Beyond such lies and distortions about specific legislation, what is a biblical basis for Christians to approach immigration issues?
First, God ordains civil government. It’s his agent to protect innocent citizens under a specific jurisdiction’s authority. Jesus taught that people should render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. Proverbs 24:21 instructs us to “Fear [honor] the Lord and the king. . . .” Romans 13 says, “For there is no [civil] authority except from God. . . .”
It follows that government may legitimately decide immigration policies. Even the Catholic bishops, who work alongside Leftists like the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Council of La Raza for open-borders policies, claim to agree that “sovereign nations have a right to control their borders.’
Oft-misquoted passages such as Exodus 22:21 (“Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt.”) don’t inform or speak to how those foreigners were admitted to the nation in the first place. Somebody has to decide who and on what conditions foreigners may enter a nation. That’s the civil government’s job.
Second, some conduct may not be inherently evil, but is regulated to ensure order, fairness or safety. Moral implications attach to certain conduct because it’s set in law. Circumventing that regulation is immoral.
For example, it’s not inherently evil to drive on the left side of the road. But because our law requires everyone to drive on the right, it isn’t only illegal to drive on the left here — it’s also immoral, because it disrupts public order and disrespects law itself. That’s why breaking the law is considered an offense against society.
Like the difference between a hike and trespassing, crossing the desert isn’t inherently wrong, but crossing an international border in the desert is an immoral act — because it’s unlawful. The same holds for overstaying a visa, perpetrating a fraud for an immigration benefit and the like. To say otherwise is wholesale rationalization.
What about desperate aliens just looking for a better life? Proverbs 6 teaches that the higher principle of law and order outweighs even the most desperate circumstances. In that passage, someone who steals because he’s starving still must make restitution; he stole something that belonged to another.
So, why not just grant amnesty? The bishops and their cronies imply that a wave of the wand legalizes the 12 million illegal aliens. Presto change-o, the law now says you’re all legal!
But amnesty abuses the rule of law. It rewards lawbreakers for their lawbreaking instead of holding them to the consequences set forth in the law they originally broke. Proverbs 24:23-25 condemns such miscarriage of justice: “Whoever says to the guilty, ‘You are innocent'” shows “partiality in judging.”
Isaiah 5:20 is even more direct: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.” Willfully sneaking into another country isn’t an innocent act. It’s not even a victimless crime. It reflects intentional sin.
In America, where Judeo-Christian principles inform the structure of our public institutions, mass immigration and legalization proposals seem contrary to “the consent of the governed.” Hawking amnesty and profligate “guestworker” programs risks not only the economic well-being of our poorest fellow citizens, but also shows favoritism to the wealthy — something both Old and New Testaments decry as sin.
It would be helpful to this debate if biblically ignorant politicians held their tongues and Big Religion sought honest biblical direction before staking positions on policies that clearly fall within the realm of prudential judgment.