Welcoming the stranger

Separate items, common thread:

1. Evangelical conference preaches support of immigrants

Evangelicals are gathering at Cedarville University to talk about the importance of showing compassion to immigrants, whether they are documented or not.

The evangelical Christian college in Greene County, east of Dayton, is hosting the G92 Immigration Conference, headlined by a list of high-profile evangelicals.

The conference began last night and continues today and Saturday.

The name G92 comes from the 92 passages in the Old Testament in which the Hebrew word ger occurs. The word is translated into stranger, alien and sojourner.

The idea is that, “as Christians, principles of Scripture should guide how we think about immigration,” said Carl Ruby, vice president for student life at Cedarville University. He hopes the conference encourages “a mindset to minister to these people,” he said.

2. Colin Harris, “Immigration Issue Far More Than a Legal Problem

“What part of ‘illegal’ don’t you understand?” is a popular piece of the narrative that supports the hard-line perspective of the legislation.

One wants to reply, “What part of the Gospel’s clear admonition to offer hospitality to the stranger don’t you understand?”

Is it a legal issue, or a faith issue? If both, then which should have priority among people of faith?

Reducing the issue of immigration to a matter of legality (as in the prevalence of referring to our undocumented neighbors as “illegals”) seriously oversimplifies the economic, social and theological dimensions of this arena of our common life.

3. Timothy B. Lee, “America’s Illegal Pioneers

Today’s undocumented immigrants exemplify the American character far more than those who angrily insist that they wait in line until we fix our immigration system. Like generations before them, they have followed the American dream and are waiting for the law to catch up with them. It would be un-American to hold that against them.

 

  • Erl

    This is a story I try to tell often, when the immigration debate comes up.

    My great-grandma Mollie was an illegal immigrant. She came over in the boat from Europe (having crossed it to escape Imperial Russia) and when she got to Ellis island, they detained her in quarantine and were going to send her back. Her family in New York arrived, they bribed the customs agents, and she was let through.

    Illegal immigration isn’t new. It’s part of my American story too. Grandma Mollie lived and died chasing the American dream–and achieved it: generations of children and grandchildren, each more educated, more successful, more fortunate and assimilated than the last. 

    It’s only right that I extend the same sympathy I’d ask for her to those who live her struggle today.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    One wants to reply, “What part of the Gospel’s clear admonition to offer hospitality to the stranger don’t you understand?”

    You know, on the subject of illegal immigration is the only time I think I’ve ever heard a right-wing evangelical say “Yeah, but church and state are SEPARATE!”

  • Anonymous

    You know, on the subject of illegal immigration is the only time I think I’ve ever heard a right-wing evangelical say “Yeah, but church and state are SEPARATE!”

    Mom has a couple little booklets from the Patriot Post that have the Declaration and the Constitution and a few other things, with an introduction. I flipped through the introduction with an eye to stealing one of the booklets (she doesn’t need more than one, after all), got to the part where it scoffed at the notion of separating church and state, and dropped the booklet in disgust.

    One of these days I am going to figure out how to explain to her the problem, from a minority-religion or no-religion point of view, with not separating dominant-religion and state.

  • Jenny Islander

    I caught the tail end of a piece on NPR about solving the problem of a metric buttload of foreclosed properties on the federal government’s hands.  Proposed solution: Sell them to immigrants on very attractive terms.  One of the people interviewed pointed out that Vancouver’s housing situation looks “like 2006″ because as soon as an existing house becomes available, an immigrant family snaps it up, plus the construction industry is feeling no pain.  When he drives 147 miles south to Seattle, the contrast is not flattering to the U.S.

  • Anonymous

    vice president for student life

    At first, I thought this said, “Student Vice President for Life,” and I’m thinking, “I guess dictatorship (or assistant dictatorship, at least) isn’t dead, after all.”

  • http://aris-tgd.dreamwidth.org/ Aris Merquoni

    … Okay, this is off topic, but as soon as I saw this week’s Dear Sugar I thought of this blog: http://therumpus.net/2011/10/dear-sugar-the-rumpus-advice-column-88-the-human-scale/

  • Lindenharp

    EllieMursaki: I don’t know what your mother’s religious affiliation is, but I assume from your comments that she’s some variety of Christian, probably Protestant.  You might point out that during the colonial era (when Church and State were joined at the hip) Protestants were persecuted by other Protestants for belonging to the “wrong” denomination.  Here’s a site that details the early history of the Baptists in America.  (I found the site by Googling, and have never heard of the site owner, but he has links to online historic documents.)  That may engage her sympathies more than the situation of modern religious minorities.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the advice. She’s Catholic. I can try pointing out the history of Catholicism in the US, but I doubt it’ll help.

  • Erl

    My school handed out similar booklets from the CATO institute–for Constitution day. I wrote them about it and they said they’d change; I’m going to check this year and make sure. It really is pretty low to publish the founding documents of the republic along with your perspective on what they mean–especially when that perspective is inaccurate, of course. 

  • Anonymous

    You don’t get it. Protestant Christians don’t care about other religion minorities because they are “wrong,” and so very much deserve to be persecuted. Trying to point out that they were once a persecuted minority will only illicit the response, “They persecuted us because they were wrong!” It will never cross their minds that persecution is inherently wrong; they only care about who is on the wrong end of it.

  • Rebekah

    As a Cedarville alum I am really glad they are doing that conference, despite only graduating this year I wasn’t aware this was happening. Last year they had guest authors that wrote the book Welcoming the Stranger (highly recommend for either christian or non, they focus on the history and problems in the immigration system in America) as well as a panel and I thought they did a superb job of talking about the issue in a clear fashion while looking at the issue from a gospel-centered view.

  • Anonymous

    Protestant Christians don’t care about other religion minorities because
    they are “wrong,” and so very much deserve to be persecuted. Trying to
    point out that they were once a persecuted minority will only illicit
    the response, “They persecuted us because they were wrong!” It will
    never cross their minds that persecution is inherently wrong; they only
    care about who is on the wrong end of it.

     I think that brush may be a little too broad for the paint job you’re trying to do. Just a thought.

  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jasdye

    That happens to me whenever I point that the prophets and Moses demanded that the government take care of its people…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    The history lesson approach is really tough. It’s a good idea, but a lot of the people who say things like that are too young to really have been around when they were on the receiving end of racism. Telling someone that they were foreigners in the land of Egypt packs less of a punch when the people who really were the ‘foreigners’ died a hundred years ago and never met them.

  • P J Evans

    It’s worse than that: the proposal is to give buyers of houses worth more than a certain amount immigration visas (but not work visas).
    (This is in the same house that just voted against funding teachers and firefighters because it would require taxing millionaires just a little more.)

  • Anonymous

    It’s a personal experience thing. I’m not saying that they do this with absolute consciousness, but that’s the gist of their argument. It is, in fact, the logic of all persecutors; no one engages in any kind of mass disenfranchisement because he thinks his victims are in the right.

    I’m saying that merely pointing out that they were once persecuted too isn’t going to work. I know, because I’ve been barking up that tree for years.

  • Anonymous

    That’s kind of my point: you’ve got a very broad and undefined “they” which, in your original post was “Protestant Christians.” Insofar as it is true of Protestant Christians as a group, it’s at least equally true of Roman Catholic Christians as a group, Mormons as a group, and (I’m going to guess) Eastern Orthodox as a group. Indeed, pretty much [any other group you care to name]–as a group.

    I don’t dispute that many people (in any persecuting group) are always going to say, “It’s different when our ideas are being suppressed, because they’re not our ideas–they’re [our God's] ideas.”* (Or the equivalent for those in non-Christian groups.) I spend a good amount of time with people who think like that.** 

    I’m saying that making such a broad-brush claim about “Protestant Christians” is an extremely hasty generalization, first, because it’s at least equally true of most other religious groups engaged in any kind of persecution–and with the current discussions of marriage equality, that’s most of them–and second, because actually some groups of Protestant Christians are doing rather well in the “trying to be aware of their privilege” sweepstakes. United Methodists come to mind; the ELCA Lutherans are trying pretty hard as well. And many, many Episcopalians (if they count as Protestants).

    Possibly when you say “Protestant Christians,” you’re thinking super-conservative fundamentalist/evangelicals? A subset of the whole. 
    ____________________________
    *Or, as my brother-in-law says, “not what we believe; what the Bible says.”
    **”good” seems somehow the wrong word there.

    (Edited for clarity.)

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, I probably meant my native Evangelicals. My bad.


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