No Mandate from God on Immigration Reform

No Mandate from God on Immigration Reform March 15, 2013

Recently Mark Tooley posted a piece I entitled “For Evangelicals, the Temptation of Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” in which he criticized a movement amongst evangelical leaders to endorse comprehensive immigration reform, however noble their intentions might be.  Matthew Soerens, who focuses on immigration issues for World Relief, posted a response I entitled “Evangelical Support for Immigration Reform is Biblical, Not Political.”  Quite a conversation ensued in the comments.  Below is Mark Tooley’s response in turn to Soerens:


God, Immigration and the Vocation of the Church

By Mark Tooley

Matthew Soerens diligently responded to my column without really addressing my key questions as to the vocation and mandate of church leaders to aggressively push specific legislation to which scripture and church tradition don’t speak specifically and for which there is not consensus among their own memberships.  He complains that most evangelical clergy don’t preach from the pulpit about immigration without considering that they prioritize the gospel over important but still subordinate political issues.  He admits that the Bible doesn’t offer direct counsel on U.S. immigration policy but still seems to insist that its thrust can point in only one direction on this issue.  He exclusively credits “population control” groups for repeatedly blocking the legislation he seeks without fully explaining why Congress should bend to such a narrow constituency.  He cites business, labor, law enforcement and “most” Americans as supporting his goal, again without offering a political rationale for the continued resistance.  He links the  “population control” groups to abortion, and complains that one board member of my organization works for one such group.

That board member is actually a pro-life Anglican who previously spent years working for evangelical renewal and pro life advocacy in the United Methodist Church, whose officials are pro choice, pro population control, and also share Soerens’ political goal of legalizing illegal immigrants.  By most accounts, pro-choice and pro-population-control philanthropies like the Ford Foundation and George Soros are heavily financing the push for mass legalization, exponentially outspending donors on the other side.  Last year the National Association of Evangelicals, the parent group of Soerens’ group, was revealed to have received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the pro choice Hewlett  Foundation.  NAE’s longtime political spokesman Richard Cizik, who shares Soerens’ immigration views, publicly supported population control as part of his environmental agenda while still with NAE.   Jim Wallis’ Sojourners, a prominent part of the evangelical immigration coalition, has received generous funding from Soros.

My own group has no official stance on immigration legislation.  Our staff and board include different views.  Where we are largely agreed, and what has motivated our work for 32 years, is a concern that the institutional church not confuse the Gospel with debatable political specifics.  Ecclesial bodies, when addressing contemporary issues, are typically wiser to speak of broad principles rather than lobby for specific legislation, a vocation often better left to lay persons.  There also needs to be discernment by church representatives about core Christian teachings versus questions of prudential judgment.  And dogmatic church stances on civil legislation not supported by church members undermine credibility and integrity.

Soerens and his colleagues in church groups backing sweeping legislation that would offer mass legalization of illegals are undoubtedly sincere.  But they would do better to perform their political advocacy independent of church institutions, backed and funded by supporters who unequivocally share their views.  There could then be a vigorous debate in which people of faith hopefully would avoid the always constant temptation to claim God’s mandate for their politics.

Mark Tooley is President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy.

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  • Noah172

    Hear, hear. More power to Mark Tooley for his brave stance against the politically correct tidal wave. Christ had no political agenda, and resisted those, whether his enemies or his own followers, who attempted to foist one upon him. A politicized Christianity is no Christianity, but rather Pharasaic Judaism or Islam.

  • Rick

    “There could then be a vigorous debate in which people of faith hopefully would avoid the always constant temptation to claim God’s mandate for their politics.”

    Oh please, we all read the Bible and then base political decisions on what we read. Soerens sees immigration as informed by the Bible’s teachings on the alien, stranger, the poor, and the unjustly treated, and then frames a political response to immigration that reinforces the Bible’s emphasis on compassion, generosity, and openness. If you want to label that liberal, go ahead, as it simply recognizes that the Left, typically, beat evangelicals to a compassionate response decades ago.

    If you see problems with Soerens’ approach, then by all means outline a more closed-border, rigid response that reflects your view of Scripture. And the people, both secular and not, will decide which response is more compassionate and realistic.

    • Noah172

      “Oh please, we all read the Bible and then base political decisions on what we read.”

      Did Jesus do that? The Hebrew Scriptures contain a multitude of verses that Jesus could have plausibly cited in support of a Zionist military rebellion against Roman rule in Palestine. Many of his own followers wanted just that, as did many of his Jewish opponents (Pharisees, Zealots). Indeed, even today many Jewish and Christian Zionists cite the Hebrew Scriptures to justify their political agenda.

      Yet Jesus would have none of it. On the hottest political controversy of his time and place he was neutral, sharing his gospel with Romans, Pharisees, Sadducees, Samaritans, Zealots, and others.

      “Soerens sees immigration as informed by the Bible’s teachings on the alien, stranger, the poor, and the unjustly treated, and then frames a political response to immigration that reinforces the Bible’s emphasis on compassion, generosity, and openness.”

      Soerens offers no historical context to these passages. Did Israelites allow foreigners to enter their lands uninvited, commit other crimes against Israelites, undermine the economic position of Israel’s lower classes to the benefit of the elites, and not resist these evils? Come on.

      • Pat Madison

        Israel does not today. They have Draconian Immigration Laws. Only jewish People can live there..immigrate there ..become a citizen…or a refugee. Christian Arab Children…whose families did not leave Israel during the 1947 War are citizens..but like Black Americans during jim Crowe..they must attend seperate but equal Schools. Christian Children do not attend school with Jewish children in isreal. illegal Immigrants from Africa..are deported at the point of the Gun. Immigration lawyers are not something allowed to exist over there.
        it is odd that in the USA From George the ACLU to the Southern Poverty Law Center…most of the Big jewish Foundations spend heavily to Have Open Borders for the USA. For the USA but not for Israel. I think that shows a lot of the intent in this amnesty is BUSINESS oriented..NOT religious.

      • It’s too bad that Soerens doesn’t have the same compassion for the legal citizens of this country that have lost their jobs ( to illegals) and their homes and are living poverty level so that people that have illegally invaded their country can have a better quality of life. Soerens attitude is criminal and disrespectful to the legal citizens of this country.

    • Bobby

      I’m not sure that your comment addresses Tooley’s objection.

      I have no problem with laypersons relying on religious reasoning to arrive their political views. But Soarens goes a step further, and suggests that the Bible is so clear on these issues that the consciences of other Christians ought to be bound on the question. This is improper, especially where the Biblical evidence in support of an issue is rather thin.

      Frankly, the Bible just doesn’t say a whole lot directly about this issue, and certainly doesn’t say enough to permit Christians to bind the consciences of other Christians on any particular stance.

    • Pat Madison

      The Living Bible…Romans 13 ‘Obey the government for Gos id the one who put it there. There is no government anywhere that God has not put in power. So those who refuse to obey the law of the land are refusing to obey God and punishment will surely follow. For the policeman does not frighten proplr who are doing right, but those who are doing evil will always fear him. So if you want to always be afraid, keep the laws and you will do well. The policeman is sent by God to help you. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for he will have you punished. He was sent for that purpose.
      OBEY the laws for two reasons, first, you will be punished if you do not, and second JUST BECAUSE YOU KNOW YOU SHOULD.” WORD FOR WORD FROM THE BIBLE. IS THAT DIRECT ENOUGH?

    • R

      Valid biblical points and concepts all – directed at individuals to execute, NOT Governments.

      Not once did Jesus ever communicate this to the government officials of Rome, when asked on a matter of taxes his answer was “give unto Caesar what is Cesar’s and give to GOD what is GOD’S”

      The current push to amnesty is nothing more than a set of legalistic moves like those once designed by the Pharisees to remove people from the directives of GOD by false freedoms found in their man made temple rules. These leaders sought with the same passion what our leaders of the current amnesty philosophy today are championing.

      THOSE temple leaders were the ones Jesus spent his time challenging, for the white washed temples of corruption they were.

      Seems we have our temple leaders today.

  • gabbyur12

    To God, love is obeying His laws. “If you love me, obey my laws”. When we obey, the consequences of our actions are in the hands of God. When we decide we must take matters into our own hands, we are one, telling God we don’t trust Him to protect us, and two, accepting that the consequences of our illegal actions are our responsibility. Don’t blame God when things go wrong in your life. There is no excuse for disobeying the law. Let your light shine wherever God has placed you and trust Him to provide. If you do, He will. If the Mexican people would turn back to God, He would heal their land. And if the American people would turn back to God, He would heal our land also. We cannot stop the lawlessness destroying our nation until we turn and obey and enforce our laws.

  • Pat Madison

    One of those “anti-immgration” groups spoken of so dontemptoursly on this board and in Congress, was founded in response to the 1996 Amnesty (came) reform (still waiting) Comm. chaired by the distinquished black Representative to Congress, Rep. Barbara Jordan. She was close to the King Family and knew of their concern that massive immigration would hurt black Americans more than any other. Dr. King said. “They will hire the immigrant, and not the native born black citizen.”This month, a letter from Coretta Scott King to Ted Kennedy, Orrin Hatch, John McCain, Charles Schumer, Joe Biden..the usuals..Begging them not to legalize illegal aliens since the unemployment rate among black people was so High. NUMBERSUSA answered this call, and Mr. Beck….with no Govt. support..lead a rag tag team into trying to protect the most vunuerable of American Workers. For Thanks..He is demonized. He has been attacked by Hispanic Activist in broad daylight….at a “festival”. The SPLC has castigated him and NumbersUSA as “Hate GRoup’ ..and I should say..Mr. Beck marched with Dr. king. And he..sent his kids to public school in Washington D.C. none of these TY ministers can say the same. So….It is ok to have pity for people leaving a nation..MEXICO mostly, with an Unemployment rate of economy bigger than Brazil..REMEMBER YOUR JOB AT FORD? IN MONTERRY NOW. YOUR JOB AT MARS CANDY? AT MATAMOURS. UNIFORMS FOR THE TSA? IN MEXICO CITY NOW. HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF JOBS FOR MEXICAN…REMEMBER WHEN OUR JOBS WENT THERE? STILL THERE. AND THEY HAVE E-VERIFY. AND THEY USE THEM. These Wolves in Sheep’s clothing..looking for more fannies on we can hear another story about another man of GOD with seven jet planes….four mansions.becauxe God wanted it. DO We Ever Learn.? AND ROMANS.13:7 OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND FOR EVERY GOVERMENT IN THE WORLD WAS PUT IN PLACE BY GOD.’ THAT IS A COMMAND. NOT A SUGGESSTION.
    NONE OF THESE C’MINISTERS’ KNOW THE MIND OF GOD. NONE OF THEM HAVE COUNSELED WITH THEM.. and they traffic with George Soros..who in his autobiography said he did not believe in God..but felt Godlike himself.

    • Lauren

      Very well stated. Numbersusa is a great NON-partisian, NON bashing illegal/legal immigrants group that works to curb illegal and legal immigration, especially while MILLIONS of Americans and LEGAL immigrants are hurting financially and otherwise. It is outrageous and borders in my opinion on TREASON and that ANY US elected official is not representing the best interests of their constituents: AMERICANS and LEGAL IMMIGRANTS!

      Please get involved — know who your elected officials are at the local, state and federal level. Find them at non partisan website: Also, sign up to have fax on your behalf faxes re: immigration issues to your state and federally elected senators and rep’s! Please get involved now and ask others to do the same. America is not the country our founding fathers fought for and died for. How pitiful that our elected officials keep voting for things that most Americans do NOT want and are hurting them. Speak up or your country will no longer be the great nation it once was! Get others involved. Ring your elected officials phones off the hook, email, write letters, etc. To do nothing is essentially COMPLIANCE. SILENCE IS THE VOICE OF COMPLICITY!

  • Immigration, both legal and illigal, is a policy that will further depress wages in the occupations where the extra foreign workers will compete. And those occupations are disproportionately ones where the American workers in them already are making poverty or near-poverty wages.
    I understand that you can make a mercy case for the 11 million illegal aliens. On cannot support anti-poverty funds which are insisting on adding millions more new immigrant workers while 20 million Americans can’t find a full-time job.
    It is better to to go back to the tight-labor conditions of the 1950s and 1960s when most people who had a full-time job could support a family above poverty. It was a country in which every job that needed to be done was a job of dignity — not a society in which we import peasant workers to do disgusting, low-paid jobs.

  • HappyClinger

    The Bible instructs us to do what is right. Breaking the law is not right, whether one is a believer or not. It’s sin. Loving others means we do not allow them to break the law; we make them follow it. Doing what is right is what builds people up. People know right from wrong. The most loving thing we can do is to encourage them to do what they already know is right – in this case, make them get in line.

  • Bill

    The way I perceive it, their is nothing to debate about immigration reform in the U.S., and Christ would have not liked you breaking the laws that are on the books in any nation , either they be good or bad. God allows things to happen to his people and their nation that reject him and his laws. If that means having other Illegal invaders enter in to destroy and pillage the land , then it was brought to Gods people as consequences for their sins, in other words you vote for what your heart seeks after. if the nation as a whole votes immorally and allows mass murdering of innocent babies then that’s the way it will go.

  • I am up set that a leader of SBC would take the side of LAW BREAKERS , Shame Shame . I am a
    Christain and a gives over 10% . but this makes me think that supporting the SBC is true waist of GOD”S money.He does exspect us nto support LAW BREAKERS AND TURN A BLIND EYE . I am so
    Suprised by this leaders disregard for the rule of law.

  • Frank

    The Bible is very clear about every situation, if one wants to find the truth, not the answer that fits your own reasoning. Jehovah God and Christ were very explicit about “keeping the law”, and the only dispensation is from God through grace. Aren’t we talking about “law breakers” when we say ” illegal immigrant”? I am an Evangelical Christian, anti-abortionist, Christian who speaks for me. I am tired of those who call themselves the same speaking for all evangelicals. It’s not their God-given right! To be kind and generous to illegals is charity, not a government responsibility. Charity should come from the church. Granting immigration status to illegals is neither charity or Biblical.

  • Rita Taylor

    I’m not a biblical scholar but I do believe using (out of context) God’s word to obtain your political agenda is a misuse of what God would have me do. The Islamic faith using Sharia law states Mohameed calls them to Jihad against their enemies which are citizens of different faiths. Does this make it politically correct? I think of the city of Sodom which God destroyed…..many illegally come to our country(breaking our laws and bring with them he violence of their homeland. If intentions are just do not break the laws of a country and then demand they support you, provide care, food and money. Live just and follow the laws of the country thereby respecting it and come through legal channels, learn our language and pay taxes as citizens do.

  • Christ would not want us to support people that break the laws of someone’s country, lie, cheat and steal.

  • joe

    The Bible states to obey the laws of your land, and for evangelicals to aid and abet lawbreaking, such as illegally trespassing on ones property or country certainly isn’t scriptural. If they’re starving to death in mexico it wouldn’t hurt to hand them some food over the fence. All countries have immigration laws and they should be enforced here as much as it is anywhere else.

  • Tony

    The reason the church is pushing so hard for these illegals–just like politicians it deals with $$$ — since they no longer send masses of “converters” across the world they have a steady flow of money and people who breed like rabbits and therefor money is the main issue. The church also provides assistance to illegals once they cross the border, in violation of the law, which the church does not follow. The church is no longer about god it is about finance, power and control–their own internal government, policies and army. Church was, at one point, about the growth of the soul/spirit and the well being of the people. Now it is how many we can get into the pews, how much money we can make and how many children we can “initiate” into that special order.

  • My Grand Parents on my father’s side learned to speak English while they were at Ellis Island becoming legal Americans. My mother’s parents were native Americans. My mother’s Grand Parents were hunted and killed by the U.S. Cavalry. They were Black Foot Americans.
    No one should be in this country unless they are here completely legal. If we break the law in this country as Americans we pay a price! That is the way it is for Americans. If you break our laws to come into our country. You must be punished NOT rewarded, as it is now!!!

  • Don England

    Thank you for an honest perspective on immigration and the Church. These Church leaders are causing more harm to the Church with their public political pandering, at a time when persecution of Christians is on the rise. What gets me most is you don’t hear from them about the harm caused to Citizens and legal immigrants by the very policies they advocate for. What about the high UN-employment among citizens, what about the daily news articles about rapes, molestations, murders, ID theft and many other crimes committed by many of those here illegally? These leaders do not and should not give the impression that they speak for their respective members, they don’t. I hope and pray that sanity prevails and the CIR is soundly defeated, despite the choice of these Religious leaders decision to line up with the big money, power hungry politicians and their backers on this issue.

  • I disagree with evangelical leaders who profess that allowing legalization of these people who have violated our immigration laws would be the godly thing to do. We cannot take in the world. A recent U.S Forest Service report stated that if we continue immigration levels at the current rate we will deplete all of our natural resources and land in the United States by 2063. We allow in more immigrants than all other countries combined in the world. Having a bleeding heart for these people is fine, but we a cutting our own throats by overpopulating our country. Go to Numbersusa and get the true story on the terrible burdens of uncontrolled population growth.

  • Nick

    Rather than look at What Would Jesus Do, I would put it, What Would Jesus Not Do….let illegal aliens waltz over the border, break the Rule of Law, get jobs, welfare, healthcare, schooling, earned income tax credits, housing, use Matricula cards as ID, go to college at the same rate as legal resident, use ESL (English as a second language) in K thru 12 classes, to take their sweet time to learn English, get driver licences…and the list grows larger every Amnesty-since 1986….Nope, I think Jesus would back out of this one, and let us humans use common sense-and do the right thing…come here legally, or not at all!

  • Shiloh

    It’s really a shame that church leaders have no clue that the Bible they profess to know and teach does indeed speak of immigration and certainly of honesty, keeping the laws of the land, stealing, lying, cheating and every sin related to breaking into a country illegally and taking what isn’t yours, no matter the reason.
    When the Bible refers to the stranger and the alien, it is speaking of non Jews who have decided to live in the state of Israel at the time, to become a citizen of that nation and to embrace their faith and their God. We learn that those aliens/strangers were to be treated with care and love and provided for until they could provide for themselves. They were given special consideration while they learned the customs of Israel and of the Hebrew faith. They did not come to Israel to steal and cheat, to lie and take what wasn’t theirs. There is no example in the Bible that tells us to allow people to invade our country, live off our tax dollars and receive special treatment where they are allowed to break laws that citizens are held to. Church leaders should be ashamed of themselves. They are being used as fools by those who want to destroy our nation and they lead their flocks to the slaughter as well. God divided the world into nations with separate languages at the Tower of Babel. He created borders for the new nations. There was a reason for all that. Read your Bibles and quit destroying our nation with false claims that the Lord never made!

  • MMort

    What part of ILLEGAL does the Christian church not understand? If the immigrants came here through proper channels we would know their background, their profession, their family ties, how they are prepared to live in our country without taking tax payer funds, etc. That is how Christians should look at the whole prospect of support for these people. We already know there are many who are criminals and commit crimes just to get into our country. They make money doing jobs that our unemployed could do and send these back to their country. Employers are breaking laws to pay them, often in cash, so it can’t be traced. It all stinks to high heaven. Be sensible when you start quoting scripture. Jesus spoke to the intelligent and the common man and was easily understood. All of these immigrants are not good people- face it!

    • This is NOT “the Christian Church” so watch what you write. These are a SMALL GROUP of liberal, pro-illegal alien activists posing as “Christian leaders”. Most Christians don’t approve of a lawless flood of illegal immigrants into the country and this small group obviously care more about pandering to criminals, AT YOURS AND MY EXPENSE, and their whining than saving the country.

  • PJ

    I believe CHRIST commanded his followers to adhere and obey the government and its leaders (unless they command you to break GOD’s laws) as he is the one who puts people in places of authority either to bless or punish nations for their choices. We saw this many times in the OT when Israel would be punished for NOT obeying GOD and then blessed when they listened to the LORD. Therefore, the law of the land states what you must do in order to immigrate or work as a foreign national in this country and all laws are to be obeyed or you deserve to be punished like any other criminal. foreign countries such as Mexico, Haiti, and many African nations are not impoverished because others are not trying to help but because of their leaders who steal from their own people and live a lavish life while their fellow country men are starving to DEATH!! Our immigration policies are some of the easiest and most generous in the world!! We need to know who is coming and going through our border due to national security…we need to employ our fellow Americans (especially veterans) before we employ foreigners…and YES people will do those jobs ( don’t start with that cop out!!) Our unemployment if you look at the U6 information the government puts out is between 12-16% this used to be the official numbers until the late 70’s – early 80’s. Why should I as a tax payer pay for free health care for illegal aliens? Free lunch? Free Breakfast? Free Housing? Etc. Etc.

  • Robin Olson

    The church pushing illegal immigration is not worthy of the respect for the law. Allowing mass lawbreaking also spills over into not following gospel teaching.

  • W. Dow Jones

    Scripture tells us that the laws of governments must be obeyed:
    (Mat 22:21 NKJV) They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
    The current laws of our USofA on immigration are NOT being obeyed in regards to immigration! Therefore those in the government of our USofA who are NOT following the laws are just as guilty as those who enter our USofA illegally. We have a process in our USofA to change the laws. That process must be followed!

  • The Bible says that God created nations with borders and it also says that we are to obey the laws of the government. The parts of globalism and universalism that say that people should be allowed to come to the U.S. (or any other country) without express permission, as well as force a country to change its basic culture and language to suit the newcomer (instead of the newcomer assimilating to the host country’s culture and language as done in past generations) violates the Biblical right of nations to continue to exist, as well as ignoring the Bible verse about the laws of the government. The Bible verses about “loving the stranger” does not mean that a nation is to open the doors to everyone and anyone to come here and do as they please. That verse was to Isreal, and Isreal had plenty of rights in order to insure its own survival in their own land as a national and spiritual people. Immigrants to Isreal in Bible times did not have greater rights than Isreal did, and they were not allowed to culturally and linguistically “remake” Isreal into their own image, either. Yet this very thing is a danger that the U.S.A. faces today.