I wholeheartedly believe that our Christian principles, applied to politics, have a broad application. However, sometimes it seems people only employ their Christian consciences on narrow social issues like abortion and homosexual marriage. However, I see application of our beliefs in a host of other areas in the public arena. Our morals and Christian heritage demand dignity for workers in the workplace, environmental stewardship, racial reconciliation, restorative justice in the courtrooms, and of course a just immigration.
I have stoked many heated responses with my critique of the new Alabama GOP’s anti-immigrant bill. (Note: I only commented on the unwise consequences of the bill and did not present my philosophy of immigration. You can be the most zealous advocate against immigration and still find the current bill troubling and irresponsible. In fact, it was the Alabama Association of County Commissions’ objections, not exactly your local La Raza affiliate, which I highlighted.)
In that vein, I found this short address by Micheal Gerson well expressed.
The immigration debate is a good example of how Christians can disagree on large, emotional issues, but it also reveals some moral lines that can’t be crossed.
Like on tax policy or health care reform, there is no single, Christian position on immigration reform. Nations have every right to control their borders and to set standards for entry and citizenship. People naturally differ on how these goals are best achieved. In a democracy, we resolve these disagreements through civil debate and elections.
But there is something about this issue that brings out the worst in some people. There are politicians who feed the suspicion of strangers for their own gain, or encourage disdain for whole cultures. There are voices on the radio and the Internet that are overtly racist, calling immigrants, in recent instances, “leeches” or the “world’s lowest primitives.” This is not policy disagreement, it is nativism. And it is not a Christian option.
Many people of good will take a strong stand against illegal immigration based, among other reasons, on the rule of law. But that is not the only principle that Christians honor. There is also the imago dei—the shared image of God—that does not permit individual worth and dignity to be determined by national origin.
This commitment does not translate simplistically into open borders. It does mean, however, that immigrants should not be used as objects of organized anger or singled out for prejudice. This belief in universal dignity does not dictate certain policies in a bill. But it does forbid rage and national chauvinism.
When God views his children, he does not check their passports. The Christian faith teaches us to welcome the stranger, not to demonize him. It teaches that our common humanity is more important than our nationality. It teaches that all of us, ultimately, are strangers in this world and brothers to the bone—and all in need of God’s amnesty.