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Mysterious Ways

Sept. 11 changed everything.

Before 9/11, for example, most Americans probably didn’t worry too much about Finnish theologians infiltrating America’s nondenominational seminaries and infecting our unsuspecting, red-blooded American theology students with their Scandinavian theories of pneumatology.

We were such innocents then.

Fortunately, your Department of Homeland Security is on the case. Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, a systematic theology professor at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., has been deported to his native Finland.

Here’s the Religion News Service report:

A renowned Finnish theologian and tenured professor at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., has been forced to leave the United States because he did not qualify under new visa regulations for religious professionals.

In what may be one of the stranger cases involving stricter visa regulations in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Veli-Matti Karkkainen was unable to appeal government decisions that denied him an extension of a visa and a work permit, prompting a July 31 deadline for him, his wife and two daughters to leave the country.

“If a theology professor from Finland can’t stay here, there is something wrong with the administrative process,” Karkkainen, a professor at Fuller since 2000, said in a telephone interview just before his departure.

Ted Olson of Christianity Today explains how Fuller and Kärkkäinen ran afoul of the new visa regulations:

A seminary must now be directly tied to a single denominational body for the U.S. government to consider it legitimate. Since Fuller is interdenominational, it apparently no longer counts. …

There are many unanswered questions. Will the new rules affect other Fuller faculty members? Kärkkäinen is not the school’s only non-American. And what about other seminaries? Many of the country’s top evangelical seminaries, including Dallas, Gordon-Conwell and Asbury, aren’t directly tied to a single denominational body. Will they also be prohibited from hiring scholars from abroad?

So, no, the Department of Homeland Security hasn’t done much in terms of making our ports safer. And security at our chemical plants is still largely voluntary and inadequate. And first-responders are little better equipped to handle an attack than they were on Sept. 10, 2001. And the guardsmen and reservists who might otherwise respond to such an event have all been shipped overseas.

But the threat of Finnish scholars coming over here and writing monographs on the third person of the Godhead? DHS is all over that.

So sleep soundly America — the Department of Homeland Security is on the job.

(P.S. note to Ted: Dallas? Is that a joke?)

  • Lemur

    This may be a stupid question, but isn’t it INS’s job to deport people who have missing or invalid visas? Maybe DHS doesn’t think it has enough to do.

  • Keith

    INS is now under DHS. it’s all part of that busy shuffling of the federal beurocracy that Bush did about two years ago to make it look like he was doing something useful and decisive.

  • John

    OK, Fuller isn’t a legitimate seminary, but LaHaye and Jenkins are legitimate writers? Just how deep does this rabbit hole go?

  • Peatey

    INS was but is no more.
    BCIS came but it went.
    USCIS, name grows more!

  • Brandon

    Next thing you know DHS will subpoena all the library records of anybody reading theological monographs on the Trinity. My question is, where will I be deported to for this heinous infraction? South Dakota?

  • James

    USCIS it may now be, but the notepaper still bears the INS or BCIS logos. Seemingly at random. Retro-cool immigration, perhaps? Or maybe the government just can’t keep up with itself.
    Wait, did I say maybe?
    James. fortunate recipient of a visa.

  • Sirriamnis

    In my own blog on Livejournal I document the hassles and hoops I went through trying to get Canadian Dental Residents set up with their Visas and everything. Including one poor girl who was told that she had to have her WA state license to get her Social Security Number and TN Visa, when she had to have the Social Security Number in order to get the license.
    While at other border crossings, several of our Canadian Residents got everything they needed simply with a letter that stated that we were indeed bringing them on as Residents for one year.
    The Social Security Office is now under Homeland Security. And there are apparently no standardized rules for handling this sort of thing at the border. We’ve asked for the rules so we know what to do, and have not received them. It not only varies from border crossing to border crossing, but from border guard to border guard what is acceptable. I guess in years past there was one woman at the Blaine, WA crossing who just categorically denied every Asian-Canadian Dental Resident we had. They finally took to calling and finding out when she wouldn’t be there, and going then, sometimes in the middle of the night.
    Andnow they are going to give the border guards more power. Why do I think this is a bad idea? (article in the Seattle Times)

  • Scott

    Can we get everyone at Fuller deported? :-)

  • http://www.greenflame.org/archives/2004/08/11/fuller_prof_ordered_to_leave_us.php Greenflame

    Fuller Prof Ordered to Leave U.S.

    Full article at Weblog: Fuller Prof Ordered to Leave U.S. – Christianity Today Magazine. Interpretation of what a religious professional is and the Homeland Security departments definition of “approved” seminary for employing them forces Finn Veli-Matt…

  • http://www.gutlesspacifist.com/gp/archives/002128.html The Gutless Pacifist

    Score one for the Homeland

    Slack writes about the Mysterious Ways of the Department of Homeland Security. Sept. 11 changed everything. Before 9/11, for example, most Americans probably didn’t worry too much about Finnish theologians infiltrating America’s nondenominational semin…

  • http://cleave.blogs.com/pomomusings/2004/08/homeland_securi.html PoMoMuSiNgS

    Homeland Security…? Yah.

    My goodness. I just ran across this on Slacktivist’s blog (who also has a wonderful series of posts where he rips on the Left Behind books). But apparently, a Finnish systematic theology prof from Fuller, Dr. Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, has been

  • April

    OK, that is just ridiculous! What’s next? Canadians? And I’m a quarter Finnish, so that particularly irks me. (Not that I’m partial or anything; it just hits a little closer home.) It’s interesting to see how our attention is diverted from the real problems (which are buried so deep that no one really knows what they are).

  • Wendi

    It’s not that they don’t know the real problems. It’s that doing anything about them would make their corporate sugardaddy’s angry. So they have to go for the stupid dumb stuff that makes no sense so they look like they are doing something.


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