No matter how much a devout Christian wants to rant and rave about “the law” calling undocumented migrants “thieves” and “robbers” the truth is their status as undocumented migrants cannot keep them out of Heaven. Abiding by unjust laws of the United States is not a requirement of God’s love.
Many on the Christian Right have become nearly as worked up about undocumented immigrants as about abortion and same-sex marriage. You could hear that in the speeches at last September’s Values Voters Summit — the annual beltway gathering of key Christian Right groups — and on talk radio before and since. While nativism has long run deep with many conservative white Protestants, this open flirtation with anti-immigrant politics involves a recent, dangerous, shift among the Christian Right’s leadership.
It’s interesting finding this article after doing some research on Chuck Baldwin’s views and platform – as he seems to fit the bill of Christian Right. Baldwin is a pastor to a large congregation and is running for president as nominee for the Constitution Party. One of his platform agendas is illegal immigration and he cites John 9:1 as an example on how God does not like people who do not “enter through the front door.” (As with many other anti-migrants he enjoyes the house analogy with front doors, back doors which aldo has obvious anti-homosexual overtones.) Somehow entering the United States is now akin to entering Heaven. While I like the United States, and feel fortunate to have been born here, as many do, it is not comparable to Heaven. And it is quite ironic that the chapter just before this one speaks of Jesus breaking the Sabbath to give a blind man sight. Essentially he broke the law to help a man who could not see. Furthermore the same chapter Baldwin cites reads:
I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also.
If a Christian’s goal is truly to get into Heaven then one must ask if it is more important to do the good dead or to follow U.S. laws which are unjust. If breaking the law will keep us out of Heaven there are many hurried drivers that are simply hurrying towards hell. It is not up to us to judge others, but it is up to us to feel empathy for others and help them. If those with Baldwin’s views cannot find it within their hearts to help those migrants here without documentation then let us hear how they will help them at home. Surely any compassionate Christian feels some duty to help others.
But it seems some Christians are too busy telling us why we shouldn’t open our arms and hearts.
A 2006 Pew Research Center Survey revealed that 63 percent of conservative white evangelical Protestants-the base constituency of the Christian Right-view immigrants as a threat to “traditional American customs and values.” In a survey of its own constituency, the FRC reported that 90 percent of “values voters” believe deportation of “illegal immigrants” to be consistent with “the requirements of Christian discipleship.”
What’s interesting is the spread of Christianity has been in full effect for many hundreds of years. So while teaching those people in other countries to become Christians, which includes the ‘values’ mentioned above, is perfectly acceptable and encouraged the idea of these people coming to the United States and being able to exhibit them is not. Well, at least not unless they follow U.S. immigration law and enter through the “front door.” Fundamental ideals of Christianity are good ones that mimic a general sense of common decency and morals. I do not see how these ideals can allow the vilification of others who are truly looking to be a part of something which allows them to survive.
Truly laws are only made because people cannot be trusted. Laws do not deter crime any more than a border fence will deter undocumented immigration. The reason for this is because we cannot simply put up walls and refuse to face the reality that others are in need. Maybe it’s because God is telling us to wake up and pay attention. And just as Americans have given their lives to protect freedom migrants are giving their lives asking for help – they’re telling us we cannot turn our backs on their need.
God is telling us too.