Posted: September 7th, 2010 | Author: Peter | Filed under: Jesus, community, culture, evangelical, fear, future, inequality, make the world better, oppression, politics, race, synchroblog | 6 Comments »
CHRISTIANS AND THE IMMIGRATION ISSUE – 9/8/2010
Congress continues to debate immigration reform, with Arizona as the infamous example of where we – as a society – are quite capable of ending up. As people of faith, we have to work harder in developing a clear witness to issues of isolationism, protectionism, classism, xenophobia, hyper-patriotism and social militance. We have to do better.
I tend to think of Oregon (and the Pacific Northwest) as generally progressive and politically Democratic. Unfortunately a recent report showed that 61% of Oregonians agree with Arizona’s immigration law. The truth is, however liberal-minded we are, Oregon is far from diverse. I’ve told this story before: I recently had a woman tell me about her brother who owns an orchard: “with all the laws they have protecting migrant workers, the housing they require makes it nicer than than our own homes!” That’s right: having functional plumbing, electricity and insulation means her brother’s migrant workers were living better than him.??That’s the rhetoric from conservatives. But white liberals love to talk about acceptance, compassion and multiculturalism. We get very uncomfortable when that starts to hit our own homogenous neighborhoods (a “novelty” of diversity rapidly becomes a “problem”). In Who Will Roll Away the Stone, Myers writes:
For Christian theology, the privileged space of entitlement is first and foremost problematized by the gospel itself, which contends that its truth is better perceived by those on the margins than by those at the center. This stands to reason: Those who have been dispossessed by a social system are by definition less possessed by that system’s illusions about itself. (17)
The contemporary zeitgeist cannot be trusted to protect the vulnerable and marginalized. I’m quite skeptical when the appeal is: “the majority of Americans believe…” or especially “the majority of Christians believe…” because the majority is painfully fickle, moved more often by fear and self-preservation than by moral clarity or spiritual enlightenment.
As a Christian, I believe that Jesus Christ demonstrated God’s weakness, love, redemption, renewal and liberation. I believe that spiritual awakening in Christ must lead us to advocate, opening prison doors and setting captives free. Because the Body of Christ does not function by magic, but by liberated people, powered by the Holy Spirit, continuing the work of liberation.
To reference Desmond Tutu: As a Christian, I believe that I am in bondage until my sisters and brothers, neighbors and enemies are truly liberated. I cannot be human if I cannot affirm the humanity of others. I cannot be human if my neighbors are not allowed their humanity. All of my efforts to liberate, liberate me. Jesus said, “Whatever you have done to the least of these, my brethren, you have done unto me.” So God is liberated to be God when we liberate each other.
What does liberation have to do with border policies? It all comes down to what we believe our fellow human beings DESERVE. If we believe people deserve human rights, then we must be ready to extend them those rights, ourselves. If we cannot extend those basic human rights with whatever small capacity we have, we cannot claim to support them.
Jesus’ flesh-and-blood ministry challenged the economy of empire, and the culture of class isolation. But in America, most of us are still drunk on a dream of self-made-destiny and prosperity. We think we’re entitled to something that never existed. We strive for it at the expense of the most vulnerable. These are our neighbors, for Christ’s sake!
?”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.