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A Biblically Informed Response to the Evangelical Immigration Table

“I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing” (Hosea 8:12).

By Mike Warren
mike@christianciv.com

 

The Evangelical Immigration Table has issued an “’I Was A Stranger’ Challenge” to read a list of forty Bible verses that they provide that relate to immigration.  They appear to be using “table” in the sense of “forum,” but their website makes it clear that the discussion has already ended, and those invited to the Table have already decided that the implication of those Bible verses is that there should be federal legislation that gives illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship, which is what they call for on the website.  Curiously, their promotional video does not mention anything about citizenship.  The video consists of a number of religious leaders who are participants in the Table reading portions of the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25, in which Jesus identifies His followers in terms of those who provide charity to the stranger and others in time of need.  Jesus says to provide food, water, and clothing to the destitute, and visit those who are sick or in jail.  But He says nothing about citizenship in this parable.

So the Evangelical Immigration Table must believe that there is some relationship between granting citizenship to illegal aliens and the Bible’s command to provide charity to the stranger, yet their legislative call to action only mentions the citizenship issue.  What exactly does this Table think the relationship is?  And what are the logical implications of their legislative call to action for this nation’s way of caring for the poor? 

Although they are not supposed to receive federal welfare (but still do),[1] many illegal immigrants take advantage of many other government entitlements, and this has had a destructive effect on schools, hospitals and other community resources where there are large illegal immigrant populations.[2]  The experience of California, where scores of hospitals have had to shut down because of debt from treating illegal immigrants, will multiply across every state in the Union if the immigration restrictions are lowered.   Of course, there are many hard-working illegal immigrants, and even though they don’t pay income tax, they pay other forms of taxes; yet that does not negate the destructive effects of large numbers of illegal immigrants being on the government dole in one way or another.

Currently in the United States, entitlements are drowning our federal government in debt.[3]  The debt problem cannot be solved without reigning in entitlements.  The Table’s call to legislative action promotes a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens, but says nothing about legislation to change our entitlement system.  The effect of granting citizenship to the illegal aliens when a large percentage of them are poor and uneducated can only be to further expand the costs of the current entitlement system.  Even though granting them citizenship means that more will pay federal income tax, those additional taxes cannot make up for the increased costs to the entitlement system that the pathway to citizenship will bring.  Whatever tax revenue that illegal immigrants in California have generated, the revenue was obviously not sufficient to keep those hospitals operating.

So despite the fact that the Table’s legislative call to action says nothing about government welfare, by leaving the current system in place, the group is implicitly endorsing an expanded welfare state.  Consequently it should be no surprise that the group Sojourners, led by the admitted Marxist Jim Wallis, is included as a member of the Table.  Although they tried to hide it, it should not be surprising that the Table is funded by the National Immigration Forum, which is funded by George Soros, the billionaire atheist global manipulator, Democrat Party funder, and big-government advocate, since Soros also funds Wallis' Sojourners.[4]  The Table cannot claim that their legislative proposal has nothing to do with how our nation cares for the poor, since they themselves highlight that issue by using the parable of the sheep and the goats as their signature Bible passage.   Nor can they credibly claim that their call for a pathway to citizenship does not have the effect of increasing the costs of an entitlement system that is bankrupting communities and the U.S. government.

Jay Leno recently made the joke that “illegal immigrants” should be called “undocumented Democrats.”  The joke is funny because it is true.  Granting illegal aliens a path to citizenship will expand the voting base of the Democratic party, and thus advance the agenda of the Democratic party.  About two-thirds of Latinos believe in the welfare state.[5]  And while the Republican Party is not innocent of this, the Democratic Party is the party most committed to replacing America’s Christian foundations with secularism.  It’s true that many illegal immigrants are Roman Catholic and not in favor of homosexual marriage, but that cannot hold up to a few generations of them being educated in government schools, which are dominated by secularist ideology.  Because the secularists control the education of the children, they own the future.[6]  As Hitler recognized, government education is a valuable tool for promoting a statist ideology:  “When an opponent declares, ‘I will not come over to your side,’ I calmly say, ‘Your child belongs to us already. . . . What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.’”[7]  Therefore another implication of these Christian evangelicals demanding a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants is that it will accelerate the erosion of Christianity in the United States.  That is the opposite direction that the Great Commission commands – to disciple all nations to obey all of Christ’s commands (Matt. 28:18-20), which includes Christ's comand to obey the moral law of the Old Testament (Matt. 5:17-19).

Does caring for the poor require Christians to support citizenship legislation that undermines Christianity?  No.  The reason that these evangelical leaders are promoting self-destructive legislation is that they don’t know the Scriptures and they reject parts that they do know.  As God said through Hosea, “I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing” (Hosea 8:12).  These evangelicals of the Table have jumped into the public arena with a superficial understanding of God’s law. 

For the conservatives who have endorsed the Table, their ignorance of God’s law is a product of a pietistic theology that, for over a century, has rejected the teachings and obligations of the law of God in favor of preaching that is mostly limited to getting souls to heaven.  As God also says through Hosea, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; . . .  you have forgotten the law of your God” (Hosea 4:6).   Many modern Christian leaders don’t know very much about large portions of the Bible or understand them because they don’t think that they have to, and that’s because those parts are not seen as relevant to their limited view of the goal of Christianity of getting souls to heaven.  Those Christian leaders endorsing the Table obviously don’t know the Bible very well because they quote Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats to support their position, but that parable teaches nothing about criteria for citizenship or the state’s duty to relieve poverty. 

The liberal church leaders who endorse the Table do so because of their low view of Scripture.  They view the Bible as man’s interpretation of God (contrary to what the Bible teaches about itself – Deut. 18:22, Jer. 23:16, 2 Peter 1:21), therefore it is a fallible human document, which allows them to think that they have the right to reject parts of the Bible that they don’t like and redefine its terms to fit the latest trends in pop culture.

A meditation on the forty Bible verses of their “’I Was A Stranger’ Challenge,” plus others that the Table did not include, should lead Christians to the following conclusions about the Bible’s teaching on immigration.  The Table will agree with some of them, but ending the welfare state will surely be “counted as a strange thing.”

  1. Loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself summarizes the law of God in the Bible (Lev. 19:18, Matt. 7:12, Matt. 22:39, Mark 12:31, Rom. 13:8-9, Gal. 5:14, James 2:8), therefore following God’s law is the most loving means of addressing the immigration issue in the United States.

  2. Racism is contrary to God’s law and should play no role in immigration policy (Num. 12:1-12, Acts 10:34, Acts 17:26, Gal. 3:28, Rev. 7:9-10).

  3. God’s law does not allow the civil government to fund a welfare program.

    1. A tax rate of ten percent is described as tyrannical and a rejection of God in 1 Samuel 8.  A tax rate below ten percent would not allow any significant funds to be directed toward a welfare program after the police functions that the Bible commands the civil government to perform are adequately funded.

    2. God’s law protects personal property rights, such as the command not to steal, not to covet a neighbor’s property, and penalties for stealing or negligently damaging a neighbor’s property, but contains no right to receive welfare from the civil government.

    3. The civil government is specifically commanded not to show favoritism to the poor or rich (Lev. 19:15), contrary to the socialist view that the poor should be given special entitlements by the civil government.  The many passages that demand equal and just treatment for the alien (Exo. 12:49, 22:21; Lev. 19:33; Num. 15:15; Deut. 1:16, 24:17, 27:19; Ps. 94:6, 146:9; Jer. 7:5, 22:3; Eze. 22:6; Zech. 7:10) refer to laws of personal property rights that should be enforced for all people regardless of the level of their wealth, including the same standards of punishment for anyone violating those laws (Lev. 24:22).  The Biblical demand for equal treatment cannot be a demand to provide government entitlements that the Bible rejects as illegitimate.

    4. The only measurements of tax liability in the law of God are a flat income tax (the tithe) and a head tax (Exo. 30:11-16).  There is no Biblical precedence for a graduated income tax.

    5. Since God’s concern for the poor is often expressed in His law, the lack of a command to the civil government to fund poverty relief is no oversight or argument from silence, but an expression of God's deliberate method of addressing poverty.

  4. The Bible gives individuals, families, and churches a duty to relieve poverty, but none of the commands for poverty relief in the Bible are directed to the state.  Individuals who can work but don’t should not receive handouts (1 Thess. 3:10-11), and families that can take care of their own should not be burden on the church (1 Tim. 5:8).  The methods of poverty relief in God’s law include the hard labor of gleaning crops (Lev. 23:22), picking and eating while you are in a standing crop (Deut. 23:24-25, Matt. 12:1), zero interest collateralized loans (Exo. 22:25-26), charity from individuals (Prov. 14:21, Acts 10:2), special offerings collected by churches (Acts 4:34-37, 2 Cor. 9:5), and the "poor tithe" collected every third year solely dedicated to providing food for the poor (Deut. 14:28-29).[8]

  5. Individual charity is a mark of being a Christian:  Matt. 25:34-40; James 1:27,2:15-16; 1 John 3:17-18.

  6. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7).  As the sovereign Creator and Ruler of the world, God is the source of all knowledge, and the absolute authority of His word should be honored in all areas of learning.  “For from Him and to Him and through Him are all things.  To Him be the glory forever” (Rom. 11).  Since God is the source of all knowledge and should be honored in all things, education should be Biblically based.  Also, the Bible gives parents the obligation to educate their children in the fear of the Lord (Deut. 6:7, Eph. 6:4), and while this responsibility can be delegated to other teachers, God’s law does not command the civil government to fund education.  Tax-funded secular public schools in the United States are training children that they do not need to honor God in all things and that God is not necessary for knowledge.  When this is not done explicitly, it's done simply by ignoring God and Biblical knowledge.  Such an education system can only turn a nation’s population, both immigrant and native, legal and illegal, away from God over time, bringing greater and greater judgment on the nation over time.

  7. The civil government has the greatest power of violence of any institution in society, and high taxes fund this power of violence.   Given that we have a government of men, not of angels,[9] restricting taxation is necessary to limit the abuse of the state’s power of violence in the hands of sinful men (Deut. 17:14-20, 1 Sam. 8:10-14).  God’s law warns against the dangers of centralization of political power from Genesis to Revelation:  The Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1-9), Egypt in the time of Moses (Exo. 1:11-14), the four beastly kingdoms beginning with Babylon (Dan. 7:17-25), and the seven-headed, ten-horned Beast of Revelation that represents the kings of a beastly empire that make war with the Lamb of God (Rev. 17:9-14).

  8. God’s law does not include immigration restrictions, but neither does it include a state welfare system.[10]  To end immigration restrictions while also providing guaranteed state welfare is to allow immigrants to drain the nation of its wealth and expand a system of wealth redistribution that violates God’s law. 

  9. The Bible gives business owners and laborers the right to freely contract the price of labor (Matt. 20:12-15 – contrary to minimum wage laws).  On the other hand, the business owner has a duty to pay as agreed, especially in regard to poor day-laborers (Deut. 24:15, Mal. 3:5).

  10. When a nation obeys God’s law, immigrants will be attracted to that nation; therefore increased immigration is a Christian goal (Isa. 2:1-4; Micah 4:1-4).   But if God’s law is not being followed by a nation or it’s immigrants, increased immigration becomes a curse in many respects, like a slow invasion that gradually destroys the nation (Ezra 9:10-14).  Immigration under the current welfare system is like allowing thieves to brake into your house, steal your food and run up your credit cards; allowing this lawlessness is not what Christian hospitality demands (Exo. 22:2).

  11. The Bible commands respect for the governing authorities (Rom. 13:1-7), as long as they don’t command disobedience to God (Acts 5:29).  Specifically in regard to immigration, the patriarchs of the Bible encountered immigration restrictions in their sojourns, and they respected those laws (Gen. 23:3-4, 47:4-6), showing by their example that respect for immigration laws is a Biblical value.[11]

 

The protection of personal property rights and low taxes commanded by God’s law creates a free market economy, which, according to free market theory, provides the greatest prosperity for the greatest number when there is a free flow of goods and labor across political boundaries.  We can see this at work within the United States where people are free to move between states and work where they can find a job.[12]  This is the ideal to which we should strive in regard to international borders.  But major changes in Mexico and the U.S. would have to happen for that ideal to be realized in regard to their shared border.  The civil government has a duty to protect personal property, which it fails to do when it allows immigrants to collect welfare benefits or allows criminals to immigrate, which is the problem the U.S. faces with many Mexican immigrants.  Immigration under a socialist system results in the tragedy of the commons, where everyone takes as much as they can because no one really owns the public goods.  Immigration under our semi-socialist, semi-capitalist system in the U.S. results in immigration being semi-beneficial and semi-harmful.  Ending the socialist part, so that immigrants pay their way except for temporary help from private charities, would make immigration a win-win deal for everyone.

Granting citizenship to illegal immigrants without strong border security or contraction of the welfare state, as the Evangelical Immigration Table advocates, will bankrupt the nation both financially and spiritually.   The welfare state will not be rolled back until the Christian church carries out its responsibility of caring for the poor.  This involves teaching the obligation of the poor tithe (a one-third tithe annually solely for the poor), and establishing other private charity that encourages and requires work and personal responsibility to the greatest extent possible in a given situation.[13]  Both immigrants and citizens need to be attracted to Christian schools so that they learn the biblical worldview, which is the only basis for responsible freedom.  Public schools may be the only option for some Christians at the current time because not every family is able to homeschool, and there may not be Christian schools in the area that are affordable or significantly Christian.  But Christians should at least work toward the goal of allowing the secular, government schools to wither away as children from all races are attracted to Christian education.[14]  Churches should encourage Christian schools to use their facilities during the week while they stand empty, and they should dedicate significant scholarship funds to help the poor attend Christian schools. 

If we end the welfare state, we can end nearly all immigration restrictions, and then citizenship will not be tied to a humanitarian crisis because immigrants will be free to become residents of the United States and earn a living even if they are not citizens.  They just won’t have the right to vote until they complete the citizenship process.

In summary, the Biblical solution to the immigration issue includes the following:

  1. Providing private charity to immigrants that replaces state welfare.

  2. Educating immigrants in Christians schools rather than public schools.

  3. Evangelizing immigrants through charity and education.

  4. Protecting the personal property rights of all people of all income levels, whether citizens and non-citizens.  Ideally this would mean the end of immigration restrictions to allow a free flow of labor and capital across political borders, but protection of personal property rights requires strong border security until the welfare state is rolled back and cross-border criminal activity can be controlled by other means.

 

 

[1]   Tony Lee, "USDA Flyer: We Don't Check Immigration Status For Food Stamps," 4/26/13, http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/04/26/USDA-to-Illegal-Immigrants-You-Can-Qualify-for-Food-Stamps.  Phil Galewitz and Kaiser Health News,  "How Undocumented Immigrants Sometimes Receive Medicaid Treatment," 2/13/13, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2013/02/how-undocumented-immigrants-sometimes-receive-medicaid-treatment.html.  Stephen Dinan, "Bungling bureaucrats dole out billions in tax credits to illegal immigrants," 10/14/13, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/oct/14/tax-credits-to-illegals-likely-from-midlevel-repor/.

[2]   "Illegal Aliens a Drain on U.S. Taxpayers, Report Says," http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/immigration/item/12431-illegal-aliens-a-drain-on-us-taxpayers-report-says.  
"Undocumented LA County Parents On Pace To Receive $650M In Welfare Benefits," http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2013/09/16/undocumented-la-county-parents-projected-to-receive-650m-in-welfare-benefits/.  
"Illegal aliens cost California hospitals more than $1 billion annually," http://www.examiner.com/article/illegal-aliens-cost-california-hospitals-more-than-1-billion-annually.  
"'Gwinnett Medical Center is operating in the negative,' in part, because of illegal immigrants," http://www.politifact.com/georgia/statements/2011/may/11/renee-unterman/illegal-immigrants-hurt-hospitals-bottom-line-geor/.

[3]  "National debt: Why entitlement spending must be reined in," http://money.cnn.com/2011/09/05/news/economy/national_debt_spending/index.htm

[4]  "Evangelical Group Misleads On Funding Source For Immigration Ads," http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/06/20/Evangelical-group-misleads-on-funding-source-for-immigration-ads.  On Soros funding to Sojourners, which Wallis lied about, see:  Dave Urbanski, "George Soros Sends $150,000 To Jim Wallis’ Left-Wing Group Sojourners," http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2011/10/12/george-soros-sends-150000-to-jim-wallis-left-wing-christian-magazine/, and Chelsen Vicari, "Why Liberal Evangelicals Are Lying To Millennials," http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/why-liberal-evangelicals-are-lying-to-millennials/.

[5]  "Great News: Republicans May Be Tempted to Embrace ObamaCare to Win Over Latino Voters," http://pjmedia.com/tatler/2013/04/01/great-news-republicans-may-be-tempted-to-embrace-obamacare-to-win-over-latino-voters/.

[6]  Gary DeMar, Whoever Controls the Schools Rules the World (American Vision, 2007).  Also see the Exodus Mandate organization at www.exodusmandate.org.

[7]  William Shirer, Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1960), 249.

[8]  "One-Third for the Poor Campaign," http://www.christianciv.com/One-Third_campaign.htm.

[9]  Federalist Paper #51 agrees with this Biblical teaching: “If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”

[10]  Gary North, Healer of the Nations:  Biblical Principles for International Relations (1987) and Gary North, “The Sanctuary Society and Its Enemies,” Journal of Libertarian Studies 13:2 (Summer 1998).

[11]  James K. Hoffmeier, The Immigration Crisis:  Immigrants, Aliens, and the Bible (Wheaton, IL:  Crossway Books, 2009).

[12]  "The Case For Unilateral Free Trade And Open Immigration," http://fff.org/explore-freedom/article/case-unilateral-free-trade-open-immigration/.

[13]  Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett, When Helping Hurts:  Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . . or Ourselves (Chicago:  Moody Publishers, 2012).
[14] Starting a day care that grows into a pre-K thru 12 school is usually the best way to begin. See Ellsworth E. McIntyre, How to Become a Millionaire in Christian Education (Naples, FL:Nicene Press, 1997).