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
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), 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.’” 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.”
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. 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. 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. 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:
 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/.
 "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.
 "National debt: Why entitlement spending must be reined in," http://money.cnn.com/2011/09/05/news/economy/national_debt_spending/index.htm
 "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/.
 "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/.
 William Shirer, Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1960), 249.
 "One-Third for the Poor Campaign," http://www.christianciv.com/One-Third_campaign.htm.
 Federalist Paper #51 agrees with this Biblical teaching: “If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”
 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), http://mises.org/journals/jls/13_2/13_2_7.pdf.
 James K. Hoffmeier, The Immigration Crisis: Immigrants, Aliens, and the Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2009).
 "The Case For Unilateral Free Trade And Open Immigration," http://fff.org/explore-freedom/article/case-unilateral-free-trade-open-immigration/.
 Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett, When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor
. . . . or Ourselves (Chicago: Moody