Immigration Reform and Evangelicals

From Carl Ruby:

I (Carl Ruby) belong to a group called the Evangelical Immigration Table, a loosely connected group of evangelical Christians who are advocating an approach to immigration that is rooted in Judeo-Christian principles like respect for the dignity of life, the rule of law, and the importance of family. We are asking fellow evangelicals, and people of other faiths to advocate comprehensive immigration reform adhering to the following six principles;

  • Respect for the God-given dignity of every person.
  • Protection for the unity of the immediate family.
  • Respect the rule of law
  • Guarantee of secure national borders
  • Fairness to taxpayers
  • Establishment of a path toward legal status and/ or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents.

Like King, we believe that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”  And like King, we agree with Thomas Aquinas’s notion that human law should be rooted in eternal and natural law. King argued that, “law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.”  Like King, we long to live in a world that looks a little bit more like heaven.

My core beliefs about Christianity have not changed, but my sense of how I should live out my faith has.  My faith is no longer just about having my personal sins forgiven, but also about working to soften the effects that sin has on others.  Christian faith sometimes looks like Billy Graham, who proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ, calling people to personal repentance and faith.  But other times it looks like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, whose faith in Christ demanded that he stand up to Nazi atrocities at the cost of his life.  And sometimes it echo’s the words of Martin Luther King who wrote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly….Anyone. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider.”

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Rick

    “Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider.”

    True, but I hope they address the issue of the countless who have gone through the normal legal channels and have waited long to enter our country.

  • Tim

    The debate over immigration is not about immigrants as such nor even their impact on the economy but about the future racial demographics of the nation and what that will mean for our national politics. To put it crassly, Democrats feel that if they can legalize enough blacks and browns to sufficiently change the racial demographics of the voting public then they can achieve lasting political dominance on a national scale for exactly the same reason that they’ve become dominant in California (i.e., changing racial demographics). Hence, the reason why Democrats are pursuing immigration “reform” even the economy is still anemic.

  • http://www.kevinglenn.podbean.com Kevin Glenn

    Great post! This is an issue I’m wrestling with as well on my blog.

    I’d be interested in feedback on what I’ve posted so far…I certainly don’t have the answers, but my goal is to bring awareness and to encourage an informed and civil dialogue between Christians who disagree on this important issue.

    http://www.abpnews.com/blog/author/kevinglenn/#.URKO6R08CSo

  • Robin

    Not sure what is actually being proposed here, but if it is just acceptance of the current comprehensive immigration proposal it necessarily falls short. Pro-immigration activists have stated that the enforcement provisions are simply in the proposal to pacify legislators, but that they will not be enforced. Regarding the DREAM act the union leader for ICE (immigration enforcement) testified yesterday that immigrants are being coached on how to answer immigration questions to falsely qualify them for the DREAM act and that it has made immigration enforcement impossible.

    I have no problem with Christians saying that, in a Democracy, concern for the downtrodden should trump nationalistic or security concerns and Christians should advocate for open borders. That is where I lean. But to claim that rule of law and border security are compatible with a loose immigration policy is optimistic at best and dishonest at worst.

  • scotmcknight

    Robin, thanks. You always bring legal perspective. Do you advocate for “open borders”?

  • Robin

    I always feel a little uneasy when this issue comes up, because I am a rule of law guy, but when I read the OT and NT I think Jesus would have definitely been closer to open borders than closed borders. I can’t see him patrolling the border for immigrants who were trying to escape poverty. I can’t see him uprooting families that are already here, and I can’t see hi separating children from their parents.

    Maybe if we were still under a monarch or tyrant I could see him advocating obedience to our rulers, even if they were perpetuating this activity, but in a democracy I think he would have an open borders attitude, even if it wasn’t the focus of his activity.

    The only thing I want to guard against is pretending there is no inherent conflict between rule of law, border security, and open borders. There is a conflict, and I think Jesus would lean toward the open border side.

  • Tom

    I really like this including the protecting the borders part. There was an article in USA Today about how things are getting less violent in Mexico now that the borders are more secure.

  • http://ofdustandkings.com T. E. Hanna

    I have to agree with Robin. Being a “rule of law” guy stops when that “rule of law” become a pretense for injustice. As the article stated, sometimes faithfulness looks more like Bonhoeffer (or Martin Luther King Jr) than it does Billy Graham. When we live in a country that consumes 40% of global resources, places military bases on foreign soil all around the world, whose citizens at the poverty line still remain in the top 10% of the wealthiest people on a global scale, who impose our culture on the world at large… I think at that point we surrender the right to refuse the poor who cannot even hope to attain citizenship under the “rule of law” as it currently stands.

    For Christians, this is more than just an immigration issue, it is about our theology of hospitality.

    I recently did a post looking at this in a little more detail. You can read it here: http://ofdustandkings.com/why-christians-should-care-about-immigration/

  • Mark E. Smith

    Will a path toward citizenship include some sort of punishment for breaking the law by entering the country illegally?


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