Saturday, March 18, 2006
Leviticus 19
You may have read recently that Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and other leading Republicans have recently been pushing for a crackdown on undocumented immigrants in America. The proposed bill (H.R. 4437), if successful would turn our approximately 11 million dishwashers, landscapers and nannies into "aggravated criminal felons" and seek their immediate deportation, a move which would naturally send our economy into an immediate tailspin. Not only this, but the bill would also turn priests, nurses and social workers into criminals for "aiding and abetting" these immigrants. In other words, it would become criminal to do what the Bible tells us to do in helping the poor and the foreigners among us.

The Bible is full of commandments to care for and welcome the foreigners that come to live among you. Leviticus 19:33-34 puts it in the clearest terms possible:
"Do not exploit the foreigners who live in your land. They should be treated like everyone else, and you must love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. I, the LORD, am your God."

That's why it blows my mind that a Wheaton College graduate, a supposedly evangelical Christian like Dennis Hastert (who also happens to be from Yorkville and is my Representative in the House) could so blantantly and hard-heartedly disregard the words of scripture by so strongly advocating for this legislation. He claims to be a Christian, someone who supposedly honors Christ's explicit words to "be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate." And yet he would not only push to uncompassionately break up families and kick out political or economic refugees; he would even make it a crime to offer these people a cold cup of water and basic human compassion. Tell me, is this what Jesus would do?

Now some might say to me, "Well, these people are illegal immigrants. They're breaking our laws. They don't deserve to be here." And yes, they are breaking the law by being here. But there are such things as unjust laws. And unjust laws deserve to be challenged through civil disobedience. The Civil Rights demonstrators of the 1960's were breaking the law too, because the law was evil and wrong. And today, many Christians oppose abortion laws, and actively seek to oppose and overturn them. If we are more than willing to fight for the rights of the unborn (a category not explicitly mentioned in scripture) why are we not equally passionate about fighting for the rights of the foreigners among us (when there are literally dozens of passages commanding this very thing?) Do we care more about "what's best for America" (despite the fact that America actually depends on this immigrant labor) than we care about the values of the kingdom of God? Do we care more about what the laws of our land say than we do about God's law?

I thought evangelicals were supposed to be people who cared about what the Bible actually says... but as Rich Mullins once said (tongue-in-cheek) at Wheaton's chapel, "I guess that's why God invented highlighters, so we can highlight the parts of the Bible we like and ignore the rest."

Of course these extremist actions on the part of the Congressional Republicans have produced a predictable backlash. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants have risen up in protest across the nation. Over 100,000 immigrants marched in downtown Chicago last weekend, bearing signs that read "My Mexican immigrant son died in Iraq", "I'm a dishwasher - not a criminal", "Don't deport my parents", and most poignantly "We are America". Personally I think the Republicans have just shot themselves in the foot. Until now the Latino vote was mostly Republican, but now, with about 348,000 legal immigrants in Illinois alone currently eligible to become US citizens and gain the right to vote, odds are they won't continue to feed the mouth that's trying to bite them. Even out here in Kendall county, already 25% of Hastert's district is Latino. Perhaps he would do well to pay attention to the motto of the march: "Hoy marchamos! Manana votamos!" "Today we march! Tomorrow we vote!"

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posted by Mike Clawson at 12:47 AM | Permalink |


At 3/19/2006 08:07:00 PM, Blogger glenda

The command Jesus gave from the Sermon on the Mount to love God and Love your neoghbor has apparently given way to the new belief that "Money Talks." As a social worker, I will refuse to follow this if it becomes law where I live.


At 3/19/2006 11:23:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

Good to hear it. As a pastor I too will practice civil disobedience regarding this law if the opportunity arises.

BTW, welcome to my blog. :)


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