|Jim W.||Read Story Here: Michele Bachmann, GOP presidential hopeful: I would ‘not do anything’ for children of illegal immigrants
This is exactly what is wrong with politicians using the “Christian nation” shtick. If your positions are directly in conflict with Christ’s teachings on the poor and needy don’t use Jesus as a campaigning tool in your bid for president. Bachmann, and the rest of them (cough Cain), need to admit they are far more Randian then they are Christian.
|Scott||”Randian?” Who’s Randy?|
|Jim W.||Ayn “Randy” Rand|
|Wendy||I cannot stand their hypocrisy! Thanks for sharing this article.|
|Scott||I totally agree with your statement that those who call themselves Christians in America are often more Randian (thanks for clarifying the word) than Christian in their attitudes. I haven’t really been following the campaigning stuff too closely, nor am I all that familiar with the candidate, aside from the general idea that she’s that tea party chick. Is Michelle Bachmann using Jesus as a campaigning tool? In the article you’ve linked to above, Jesus/Christianity isn’t mentioned.|
|Jim W.||I guess the article I linked to doesn’t have the references to how Bachmann uses Christianity in her campaigning. Just assumed people knew that she talked about her Christianity a lot on the campaign trail. Since her emergence on the national scene she has always been unabashedly religious right. Of all the politicians in the race Bachmann plays the “Christian Nation” card more than anyone else.Here she is a month ago campaigning at Falwell’s Liberty University weaving Christianity and her campaign together (she also throws in some good ol’ American Manifest Destiny theology as well):
This past weekend she campaigned in 2 churches and gave her Christian conversion story at these stops before handing out bumper stickers, Bachmann 2012 pins, and sign up sheets for campaign volunteers. Her campaign has said her focus leading up to the Iowa caucus is “Faith, family and the economy”.
|Scott||Jim, wow….you did your homework to answer my question. Thanks! Like I said, I haven’t really been following this stuff. (It seems to me very unlikely that I’ll find a mainstream candidate I feel I can endorse.) But to clarify, your position is that a candidate can’t be a Christian AND want to secure the borders, as the two positions are mutually exclusive?|
|Jim W.||I feel the same way regarding finding a candidate that I could actually endorse. We definitely need something different from what either the Dems or Repubs are putting on the table.As for securing borders, I think it is an important issue and one that can be addressed with Christ inspired solutions. It is also a complex and multi-faceted issue. Please understand that I am responding to Bachmann’s statements about the children of undocumented immigrants. The response I will outline here is to the single facet of the demographic majority of these immigrants, that of the economically poor immigrant who hops the border to find better employment and opportunity for their family and themselves.
Unfortunately candidates like Bachmann and a lot of the other candidates espousing a Jesus centered political agenda have not come even close to a Christlike response in my view. The rhetoric they often use paints a narrative that undocumented immigrants are the enemy…that they are criminals and undesirables that we should get rid of. That even when they are injured we should not offer a path for medical aid, even for the children. Such a view simply does not resonate with Jesus’ teachings in my understanding.Part of, and this very incomplete, a Christ like response to this issue would be to review who these people are and why they are coming here, then to respond appropriately, humanely and lovingly. For the most part the undocumented immigrants that come here from Latin America (will use L.A. going forward) are seeking economic and social refuge…especially the ones with children. The reason why people in this position jump the border is because there isn’t a legitimate path to citizenship for the poor and needy. Every time a politician says they are “pro legal immigration because we want the best and the brightest” (this includes Obama) part of the between-the-lines message is that we don’t want the poor and/or uneducated (because they are poor)… our current immigration policy reflects that position. Citizenship from L.A. is, for all intents and purposes, restricted to those who are educated, already have employment lined up and who, upon entry, would be members of at least the middle class. We do not generally accept applicants who are poor. There are certain times when we will declare an official exemption for humanitarian refugees, but this isn’t available for most all of those who come here undocumented. Since there is little opportunity for the poor in L.A. to economically move up the class system they feel like their only option, if they want to improve their lives and give their children more opportunities, is to hop the border. Yes, they are doing something wrong, but it is out of desperation and not out of greed, entitlement, or malice as many nationalists, like Bachmann, assert. From a Christ-inspired point of view I think there is a big difference between how we would respond to “foreign invaders”, as many Republicans have called them, and how we would respond to the desperate attempts of the poor to find a better life.
IMO a Christian response would be to create a process that would offer hope, opportunity, humanitarian aid and a legal pathway to citizenship for these economic refugees. Obviously we can’t just open the flood gates and I am not suggesting that we do. We need an immigration policy and process that has a path for these people. One idea would be to create a program through which they could participate in a public works program (kind of like the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s and 40s) that would both give society benefit (infrastructure maintenance and creation is a large need right now) and the immigrants valuable on the job training/a path to earned citizenship. Another possibility would be to partner with the agricultural industry, who right now is suffering losses as a result of recent immigration laws, to co-sponsor a work for citizenship program. As we open up the opportunity for these economically poor immigrants to have a legitimate path to citizenship the jobs of our border control will become much more efficient and effective. As a matter of demand, most human trafficking would become virtually obsolete once we have a reasonable pathway to citizenship for the poor. At this point most of the undocumented traffic over the border would be related to drugs and/or other serious criminal threats. Border agents would then be able to focus on the truly dangerous and violent offenders instead of chasing families through the desert.
In essence, my point is that if we are going to claim Christ in our public and political lives then we shouldn’t simultaneously turn a blind eye to our struggling neighbors to the south, nor should we be hostile to their desperate attempts to find hope in a world where such a thing is hard to come by. For me, the story of undocumented immigration parallels the Parable of the Good Samaritan. I think for too long we have taken on the role of the priest and Levite…my call is that we, if we are to respond to this issue in a Christ-inspired manner, take our proper role as the Samaritan.
|Kate||RE immigration — Jim, every other civilised country in the world has just as strict, if not stricter policies regarding who is permitted to come. Look up Canada or Australia, for example: you need to have savings, a job, be in good health, etc. This, in my opinion, is not unreasonable and has nothing to do with a “Christlike” or “unChristlike” attitude. It has to do with the fact that immigration is, and should be, based on the nation’s self-interest, not the desires of outside individuals. As Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
I’m all for supporting the poor and helping them better themselves, but not at the expense of prioritizing foreign poor over our own citizens. Looking the other way and pushing for lax immigration, in my view, only allows corrupt regimes to continue abusing their people. We need to be putting some pressure on these governments to change, and empowering people in Mexico, Cuba, Peru, El Salvador, etc., to be active citizens in their native lands.And yes, Bachmann bashes her Bible a lot more than she reads it, I think…!
By the way, calling someone an “undocumented worker” instead of “illegal immigrant” doesn’t change the reality of the situation. If I choose to drive my car without bothering to get a license, by all means, you can call me an “unlicensed driver” instead of a “criminal” but I’m still breaking the law.
|Jim W.||Thanks for the response Kate. My intent was not to compare us with any other country but rather to answer the question that was asked regarding the intersection of Christianity and illegal immigration. While it’s possible to say Christ and his teachings shouldn’t have anything to do with immigration, that is a presupposition that, as of now, you haven’t backed up. Writing it doesn’t necessarily make it “fact”. It seems to be a chosen world view which probably has strong points and weak points. My goal here was to show how a Christ inspired world view might address the issue. It’s up to the individual to judge whether a nationalist world view would be more apt at addressing the issue. We should not be mistaken though, these world views are not necessarily trying to achieve the same goals. The nationalist world view is, as you said, self-interested. The Christ-inspired world view would be seeking hope and solutions for people no matter which side of a line in the sand they happen to find themselves on.
What I proposed was a Christ inspired solution to the problem, within what I would consider a Christian world view. I would agree that your suggestions of influencing and empowering foreign nations/peoples would be good and would contend they are good components of a solution. However, historically we have been doing that for decades and it has not come even close to solving the problem. It has proven itself to be quite unsuccessful as a stand alone approach.
Please take note that the couple of suggestions I made were mutually beneficial for us and them. We have needs and so do they, I proposed solutions that meet both. They would be doing something for our country and we would be doing something for them.
Inevitably this conversation tends to move into an argument about “us vs. them”. The beauty of Christ’s teachings about how we treat the “other” is that he talked about them in ways that included them in our community. In the Christian perspective there is just an “us”…as humanity yearning to be reconciled to each other and to G-d. Political boundaries were of little concern. Calling those we would conveniently distance ourselves from a “neighbor” invokes images of shared community. Nationalist sentiments seek to create a sense of exclusive community (the us vs. them mentality), in my understanding of Jesus’ teachings he tries to create as sense of inclusive community that offers hope and acceptance regardless of social, economic, or political status. Jesus’ choice of using the Samaritan in the referenced parable was far from random, as I’m sure you know. I couldn’t think of a more apt equivalent for a modern-day undocumented immigrant in our nation. The Samaritans in his time were the outsiders who lived among them. They were those in his culture not accepted nor wanted by the “insiders” of the Jewish social structure. He seemed to be almost mocking the “us/them” mentality of his culture by placing the “other” as the hero of the story.
I hold a hope that we can build a society that doesn’t need to exclude the poor and the inconvenient in order to thrive. We need not neglect those presently here to welcome those who are coming. There is not any fixed law of the universe that says that we can’t. Building such a world is difficult but not by any means impossible.
As far as the language I use when speaking about undocumented immigrants, I do this because I don’t wish to brand anybody with a scarlet “I”. They are real people to me, each with individual stories and circumstances. I don’t feel as if I am in a place where I can judge or condemn them as wrong-doers. What is “legal” and what is moral/acceptable are not always in agreement. As I explained earlier, the situations that surround many of these people are quite extraordinary. Few risk death by traversing hundreds of miles of desert who aren’t desperate and running out of hope. Indeed hundreds die every year in the process. For your analogy to be fit you would need to be driving as a last-ditch effort for a better life for you/your family or to escape extreme hardship. If that were the case, I wouldn’t label you a “criminal” either.
|Kate||RE terminology, ok, I see your point. That phrasing tends to annoy me though because it always seems to come from people who are trying to be politically correct/act like we don’t have a genuine border security issue.
To be clear, I don’t have a problem with people who are fleeing outright persecution, particularly if we have an existing understanding in regard to violence in their countries (Cuba). I fully support legal immigrants, regardless of where they come from. And I think we have provisions in the system that allow some flexibility for certain situations. But that doesn’t mean we should throw all our rules out the window. At the same time, it angers me to see how companies exploit many of the people who come here, legally or not.
On the Christian principle of the thing, I guess we have some differences in overall view on this! While Jesus emphasized including outcasts and supporting the poor, he also focused on spiritual improvement, as opposed to being consumed by “getting more stuff” here on earth. (Matt. 8:20). He also spoke about respect for the laws of man as well as the laws of God. (Matt. 17:27, Matt. 22:21)
So when I see people who are fixated solely on obtaining wealth, willing to abandon country and their fellow citizens and even break the law for it, I have a hard time seeing support for that behavior as a “christlike” stance. That goes for the fat cats on Wall Street just as much as the illegals, in my book.
|Jim W.||Do you really think that a significant number of undocumented immigrants are driven by greed?|
|Kate||Re analogy, I see your point, but do disagree. Morally, we can debate whether there’s a difference, but the law typically does not recognize noble motives as an excuse for criminal behavior. A man fleeing a drug gang with his family and a drug lord hopping the border illegally are essentially one and the same in the eyes of the law.Honestly, having been in Mexico and seen conditions firsthand, yes, I think for many, greed, and even worse, laziness is a factor. If it were not, you’d see a lot more people willing to go through the proper channels, learn English, and take jobs that are not under the table.
Think about it: Why bother trying to get your education, be a hardworking citizen, challenge your government to change, protest injustice and make a difference in your own country when you can just sneak across a border to pursue an easy life?I don’t blame anyone for wanting a better life, Jim. I want a better life too. It’s human nature. But I don’t think it’s right for me to expect others to just give it to me, or for me to pursue it outside the confines of the law. I’m not going to hop the fence of a gated community and occupy someone’s property just because the people who live there are better off than I am, and I don’t think Jesus would be on my side if I did.
|Jim W.||I live in a city with a lot of undocumented immigrants. One thing you can’t really say about the demographic as a whole is that they are lazy…some of the hardest working people we have. The fact of the matter is that most of the impoverished don’t have access to education where they can learn English. Most don’t have the opportunity to find good jobs or transportation to Mexico City to protest the injustices. Here the current immigration laws make it impossible to get jobs that aren’t under the table.
Most of Mexico is quite unlike the places where Americans go on vacation. Just across the border from AZ in Nogalas there is a garbage dump. There is a make shift community of scrap-metal lean-tos that are densely populated. Every day when the trash is dumped the place is flooded with children searching through it for scraps of food to eat. That’s the reality that a lot of them face. I don’t think it’s an accurate assessment to say these people are too lazy to protest and wait for their society to change. In addition, again, it’s not easy to hop the border. It’s extremely dangerous and many die in the process. These actions are born out of desperation, not out of jealousy or greed.
It’s easy for us to judge the choices of the down-trodden or hopeless as immoral when we have the assurance, simply by the random chance of time and place of birth, that we will never have to take a step in their shoes. We cannot understand their hardship. Those from a place of privilege are consistently given instructions from Jesus to care for the poor. Jesus makes his expectation clear time and time again. It is not our place to judge them but rather to give generously from our abundance. There is not a single time recorded in scripture where Jesus condemns a poor person, judges them, excludes them, calls them lazy or wicked. He reserves those for those who don’t help the poor and down trodden.
In response to the assertion that we should always submit to the law of the land, this is not a global decree. Jesus, and the rest of scripture, make allowances for breaking the laws of the land. Consider for a moment the account of Matthew 12.
Having a law does not decide whether an action is permissible or not. It does not dictate morality nor which “side” Jesus is on. Jesus teaches here that legitimate need overrides the law. I fear that when we judge the poor and down-trodden from our place of contentment and privilege that we have “condemned the innocent”.
The difference between the undocumented immigrant and us occupying somebody’s house is the necessity. We have the ability to provide for yourself. We are not impoverished. We were fortunate enough to be born into a situation where we don’t have to dig through a garbage dump to find our daily meal.
|Scott||Wow, Jim, look what my question stirred up! My intention was not to spark a debate, but simply to understand your position. You’ve stated it quite eloquently. Mark your calendar, because on this day in 2011, you and I agree on a political point!|