Arizona, Xenophobia, Zeitgeist, & other "Z" sounds...

 After all their drama with legislation concerning a “crackdown” on illegal aliens, The State of Arizona is now asking for Predator drones to help patrol their borders:
NEW YORK ( -- Unbowed by a raft of boycotts over her immigration policy, Arizona Gov. Janice Brewer has requested helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles from the White House to patrol the border region with Mexico.
Brewer, in a letter to President Obama, asked that the National Guard reallocate reconnaissance helicopters and robotic surveillance craft to the "border states" from other parts of the country.  (click here for full story)
Since these attitudes (nationalistic, xenophobic, protectionist) are awfully problematic when it comes to most of the New Testament, and much of the Hebrew Bible, I thought we should try to help the Birthers and the Tea Partiers and the Anti-Immigrant groups some kind of work-around for pesky “hospitality” Scriptures.  For example:

Ezekiel 47:21-23 (New International Version)
"You are to distribute this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel.
 You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the aliens who have settled among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel.  In whatever tribe the alien settles, there you are to give him his inheritance," declares the Sovereign LORD.

Or this one:
Deuteronomy 24:14
Do not take advantage of a hired man who is poor and needy, whether he is a brother Israelite or an alien living in one of your towns.
I mean, what do we DO with those kinds of commands, if we want to “get rid of all the Mexicans” (as Mr. Garrison in South Park so eloquently entreats throughout the series)?

Here are some addendums I came up with...

Deuteronomy 23:7
Do not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother. Do not abhor an Egyptian, because you lived as an alien in his country.  Remember that Mexicans are not Edomites, so don’t take this too much to heart.  You probably don’t know any Egyptians either, so you’re covered. If you do know Egyptians, don’t abhor them, but remember that a discreet call to Homeland Security makes everyone feel safer in their neighborhoods.

Deuteronomy 24:19
When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.  But if the alien is the one doing the harvesting, at a fraction of your country’s legal wages, don’t worry about leaving anything behind, because the alien has stolen that job, and you’d probably gladly work for pennies on the dollar if he wasn’t.  It isn't fair, so don't bother worrying about gleaners.

Deuteronomy 27:19
"Cursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien, the fatherless or the widow." 
Recent archaeological digs have surfaced original documents that make clear this reference to “alien” is specifically extraterrestrial.  Justice for “human aliens” is a contradiction, because humans aren’t aliens, they’re people.  The ancient Hebrew text makes this point much clearer.

Jeremiah 7:5-7
If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever.  Thankfully, Americans already live in this land, having taken it violently from another group of aliens, and we have the military capacity to hold onto it whether or not God explicitly wills it. 

Malachi 3:5
"So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me," says the LORD Almighty.  Another extant text found among the Dead Sea Scrolls adds, “Just kidding, nobody really believers in sorcerers.  What is this?  A British children’s book?”  Which makes clear this is a rare case of Yahwehic Sarcasm – similar to when YHWH told the Israelites to cut off their foreskin. 

Here’s the real crux: if Christians accidentally developed a reputation for hospitality to “outsiders,” we might have to answer for things like asking the government to use military weapons and vehicles to enforce our borders against our 3rd World neighbors.  Moreover, if Christians began to be known for hospitality, we might have to allow homosexuals into our churches, we might feel compelled to embrace our Latino neighbors and make them feel welcome in our communities and pay them fair wages over the table, and we might have to nationally de-segregate our Sunday morning worship services.
If all that happens, Christians might come to be regarded as the sort of folks who do unto others what they would have done unto themselves.  It would be a disaster.  Because how, after all, can we be expected to LIVE like THAT??!!


WKen said...

When I was in college, I was a very staunch conservative. I thought that Christians were supposed to be.

But then two really important things happened -- I was saved into a real faith, rather than the shallow one of my childhood, and I read my Bible.

Not just the selected bits that I used to read. The whole thing.

I found that I couldn't believe in the politics that I had, and one of the main things was the approach that I had to illegal aliens. (Well, that and war, justice, capital punishment, gay rights, social welfare, ... you get the idea. My friends from back then don't recognize me now.)

Too many nominal Christians aren't reading their Bibles these days, and are letting political hacks guide them away from the love that God teaches and into this xenophobia. And they do it in Jesus' name.

I don't think He's pleased about that.

Peter said...

Well put, Ken. I was a staunch conservative in college too (only 9 years ago or so). I wrote a column in the college paper called "You Know I'm Right."

Your testimony is SO much like mine.

Thanks for sharing,

shallowfrozenwater said...

i'm Canadian, so my issues in this land of the north are different. i recently had a similar post to this one except i didn't phrase it nearly as eloquently. i too came from a conservative background but i'm not the man i used to be and i like me much better now.
blessings on your journey friends and stating what needs to be said.

James said...

The thing that is so sad to me, well one of the things, is that when people do not understand the proper christian response to immigrants and the marginalized they also betray a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of Christianity. The nature of the early church was one of exile and the essence of the incarnation is the idea that God would "immigrate" to be a man. These ridiculous anti-immigrant attitudes seem to be a symptom of a broader problem that most western Christians do not understand that the Christian life should be characterized by the reality that Christian=immigrant.

"we might feel compelled to embrace our Latino neighbors and make them feel welcome in our communities " I want to push back a little on this statement. Is the right step us making them join "our" community? Or, should we go and meet them in the communities that they already inhabit? What if hospitality is not welcoming, but joining? I think that it is all well and good to make our communities more welcoming but I wonder if it is enough? Even if we can create wonderful, welcoming communities we still make "them" come to us. We assume that "they" would even want to join us. Maybe what needs to happen is we need to leave and join them?

Peter said...

Thanks Shallow Frozen, well said. I think I like who I am becoming, too.

James, I appreciate that pushback, and I like where you're going: "What if hospitality is not welcoming, but joining?" Nicely put.

Also, assuming they would want to join us imples we are something worth joining. It's the perils of an "attractional" mindset, and its manifesting here on a cultural level, just as we habitually use it in our faith-settings, too.

If Christianity is truly a diaspora religion, then we must not only accept being foreigners - we should probably seek to remain foreigners. As in: as soon as we become the normative or dominant culture, we haven betrayed our alien identity.

Thanks dude.

Peter said...

But then, to bringing it back to the Arizona issue at hand: if we recognize ourselves as aliens, we recognize that we are no different than immigrants who come here from the south. Rather than protecting ourselves as the establishment, can we welcome them as extended family? Does that fit the paradigm?

WKen said...

That's a great point, James.

Peter has put up a number of posts on what white privilege or male privilege or such looks like ... I think it's not completely off-base to say that this is a symptom of sort of a Christian privilege in the US.

We're very used to being part of the culture in a way that Christians in China or Iran or many other parts of the world aren't.

But American culture really isn't Christian culture. That's a great, great point. Thanks for giving me that kick in the backside, too!

Existential Punk said...

i think Native Americans could have issue with us whites being on their lands!!!!

Peter said...

For sure, Adele. That really goes to James' point: that we aren't "owners," we are foreigners - who, in truth, took this land by force. Does an "alien" mindset help us better contribute to the process of reconciliation?

Existential Punk said...

i think if people would actually read their Bibles they would see we are to be kind to aliens! Leviticus 19:33-34:
How do you treat the alien
living in your country?

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