An Ungodly Immigration Policy?

Mark Tooley is President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (www.theird.org) and author of Methodism and Politics in the Twentieth Century. Follow him on Twitter: @markdtooley.


The 1.1 million-member United Church of Christ (UCC) is trying to raise $50,000 for a media campaign, including a newspaper ad in the Phoenix newspaper The Arizona Republic, to blast that state’s new immigration enforcement law. Church prelates hope the ad will appear on May 29, when reputedly 500,000 will march in Phoenix against the law.

As America’s most left-wing Christian denomination, the fast declining UCC’s zeal for political activism perhaps compensates for its lack of evangelism. Having lost about half its members in recent decades, and several hundred congregations in recent years, the 1.1 million member denomination, at least as expressed by its elites, unapologetically plunges ahead with the latest causes du jour.

“God’s love knows no borders” the proposed ad will sermonize, as though that point were the issue. The UCC’s top bureaucrat for “Justice and Witness Ministries” is also prominently quoted in the ad draft, asserting:  “It is now legal for Arizona’s law enforcement to single people out because of the color of their skin, the language of their ancestors, their place of, or even the way they dress.”  She further snidely alleges:  “When racism raises its ugly head and our nation’s core justice values are at stake, fear cannot be an excuse to remain silent.”

When the Religious Left alleges racism, it’s usually because it has so few other arguments at its disposal.  In the mid-20th century, liberal Mainline Protestantism waged serious moral campaigns against authentic racism, and on behalf of other admirable causes.  Now an embarrassing shadow of once prestigious religious institutions, left-leaning Mainline Protestants have exhausted most of their Christian moral capital.  When they speak politically, they typically only spout bumper sticker slogans that slam their targets as racists, militarists, or exploitative profiteers.

“This law is nothing less than a modern day Jim Crow law of the 19th and 20th centuries,” virtually shrieked UCC President Geoffrey Black in the immediate aftermath of the Arizona law enforcement law’s passage.  He insisted:  “The immigrant rights struggle is a contemporary civil rights struggle!”  In typical fashion, he did not differentiate between illegal and legal immigrants, making his own sweeping ethnic assumption that all Hispanic immigrants, and their U.S. born descendants, essentially think alike.  That many legal immigrants themselves favor immigration law enforcement is a possibility not recognized by the Religious Left, which is too busy advocating its mainly WASP theoretical version of multiculturalism to ponder what immigrants themselves actually want.

Rev. Black claimed the new Arizona law will mandate “racial profiling of persons of color” that will assault the “rights of women, men and children, citizens and non-citizens alike.”   But what of the rights of women, men and children of all races in Arizona who expect a lawful society that regulates who can enter their state from outside the U.S. border?   Of course, the main victims of uncontrolled illegal immigration, who are legal immigrants, and the native born working class, do not typically constitute the constituency of the upper middle class, and almost all white, Anglo UCC or other Mainline Protestant denominations.  The UCC is among the most blue blooded of America’s old-line churches, having descended literally from the Pilgrim Fathers and the New England Puritans.

Like its 17th Puritan preacher ancestors, the UCC loves to inveigh against perceived evils.  But while the Puritans primarily were concerned about the sin in their own hearts, the theologically modernist UCC is mostly focused on lambasting perceived sin in other people’s hearts.  “We urge our brothers and sisters in the United Christ of Christ and our faith partners to resist hate, and insist that just immigration reform embodies our Christian understanding to love our neighbors,” Rev. Black implored.

“We call upon the President of the United States and members of Congress to enact comprehensive immigration legislation that protects the rights of all who reside in the United States.”  Do illegal immigrants have the same rights to residence and government services as citizens and legal immigrants, in the UCC/Religious Left perspective?  Apparently so.

Reportedly, the UCC has already raised most of what it needs for the Arizona Republic newspaper ad.  Now it wants some additional dollars for Spanish language ads.  Few UCC members are Spanish speaking, and Arizona’s Hispanics are overwhelmingly Roman Catholic and Evangelical, primarily Pentecostal.  No liberal-led mainline denomination has successfully appealed to large numbers of Hispanics.  And the UCC lost much of its Spanish speaking membership when its Puerto Rico Conference officially withdrew from the UCC in 2006 to protest the UCC’s support for same-sex marriage.

“Across the church, we have heard eagerness that the United Church of Christ respond publicly in Arizona with a message that resonates both pastorally and prophetically to this unjust new law,” Rev Black explained to his denominational news service.  “At the same time, we need to prepare a long-term response strategy that prepares us for the multiple legislative battles over immigration that will take place in the coming months and years.”  The UCC naturally is concerned about immigration law enforcement proposals in other states.  Rev. Black has encouraged “meaningful and respectful” debate on immigration even as he has called his labeled his opponents as racist and hateful.

Meanwhile, the UCC’s Southwest Conference has urged, by an apparently narrow vote while meeting in Sedona, Arizona, a virtual economic boycott against Arizona to punish it for immigration law enforcement.  “We are profoundly disturbed by the passage of the harshest anti-immigrant legislation in the country by the Arizona Legislature,” this conference wrote in a public letter President Obama and other officials. “It is legislation such as this that codifies racial profiling and creates an atmosphere of suspicion, hatred, and scapegoating of immigrants and U.S citizens.”  The Southwest Conference represents about 50 congregations mostly in Arizona and New Mexico.  Its meeting “immediately went into a time of prayer for the soul of Arizona and all people who reside here” upon learning of Arizona’s “unjust and racist law,” against which it pledged “non-compliance.”

Posturing by Religious Left elites like the UCC’s prelates will not likely affect the enforcement of Arizona’s immigration law.  But the UCC’s vapid and histrionic rhetoric further expose the moral vacuity of the Religious Left’s emptying churches.

  • watchful

    God's love knows no borders? Good. I'll still be able to love love them when they go home. What we should be marching in the streets for is that Mexico start taking care of its own downtrodden, uneducated and uninsured. It's a little like parents who expect other people to raise their children. The parents should sacrifice for their own children. Instead they send them off to Uncle Sam to raise them. Mexico needs (as it has since its beginnings) to start developing a middle class.

    Mexicans ARE NOT OUR RESPONSIBILITY.

  • DeadReckoning

    Arizona writes a law to do what the Federal Government in its mandate will not do. A third of the country is irate over the Arizona law. Would seem the people who are insensed about this law are looking in the wrong direction.

  • sflbib

    The federal law is stricter than the AZ law; California's Prop 187 is stricter than the AZ law. So why are Lefties all worked up over AZ law and not federal or CA law? It's because they know what everyone knows: federal law is not being enforced; CA is well-known for ignoring the will of the people; AZ law will be enforced.

    P.S. If their convictions were were half what they claim, the UCC would not have met in AZ.

  • blotto

    First, the UCC should lose its 501 c 3 tax exemption and be listed as a political organization. Second, if the UCC really wished to help illegal immigrants, instead of raising money for a march, it would raise money to house, school, care for and hospitalize the illegals. They should put their money where their mouths are.

    But like the rest of the left, they are using Christian symbols in a cynical and dishonest attempt to aggregate power to the left. They are to Christianity what HIV is to good health.

  • Mik

    The Rehnquist court voted 9-0 for a federal law that allows police officers to stop anyone, anytime without probably cause and ask for ID and proof of legal status in the US. Where were the protesters? The AZ law is much weaker than the federal law.

  • glenkille

    Workers of New York……union and non-union………refuse to work on this disgusting mosque (in Arabic 'mehrab' meaning, "place of battle") near Ground Zero. Out of respect for your city, the victims of 9/11 and your country. No workers, no mosque……………….(readers please pass this on and post on any and all websites. We can stop this insult)

  • USMCSniper

    You know what the illegal aliens response to all of this is? " Besame el culo! We don't need no stee-e-eenking green cards gringos!"

  • Supertx

    Where is the compassion for those who are being kidnapped, threatened and even murderd by drug and human smugglers? Seems like we might need to give that just a wee bit of consideration…

  • Thunder

    There is no "New Arizona Law" – it is the existing federal law restated, dorks!
    A country without border is not a country…..prove me wrong.

  • guest

    The Mexican Immigration law is racist and seeks the harassment of people of the color white. We should use the Mexican laws here so we won't have a double standard.

    The cops know exactly who they are looking at, usually by name BTW. They pick the same people up time and time again. Gang members, Drug dealers, crack heads, etc.
    What a pile of crap these people are pushing. They would be the most vocal if the shoe was on the other foot!

  • Jane Larson Baer

    REagan said, "a Country with no borders is not a country."

  • Marcus

    Tell Mexico to set an example first, like opening up it's southern borders, so the flow of illegals, more drugs, weapons, and drug gangs, can enjoy the peace and freedom of life in Mexico. Right now, Mexico is actively trying to control its much smaller southern border for many of same reasons the U.S. is trying to control its own.

    "Guatemala's problems have made it a paradise for drug traffickers. They thrive in the chaos, where they can easily bribe officials as they move cocaine north from Colombia toward the United States."
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?stor

    We either work together, avoid hypocrisy, and respect the law, or we all become victims.

  • http://immigration.civiltalks.com/. Katherine

    The crucial thing we should consider while fighting against illegal immigration is the illegal labor. People pass the border illegally because they are guaranteed to get a job here!!! So first of all entrepreneurs should stop taking illegal employees, using cheap labor and increasing their profits. And the situation will change drastically!!! What will illegals come for if they know that there is no job here for them!

    Share your opinion at http://immigration.civiltalks.com/

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/zsqpwxxeh zsqpwxxeh

    If the Arizona law is racist then, as it only restates federal law, the immigration law of the U.S. is racist. As the Mexican immigration law is much harsher than U.S. law, then it naturally follows that the Mexican laws are double racist. And so on. All countries have laws regulating legal and illegal immigration. According to you, then, every country's laws are racist, and any attempt to enforce them is a racist act. That is an absurd argument.

    Unless you show me the provision of either federal or AZ law that allows/permits/encourages actual racist acts, I'm going to have to call your remarks basura.

  • nosophist

    There are folks who have had bad experiences with white folk, and it shows in dealing with them. Anytime I contemplate going where they will be congregated, I consider that fact in preparing for being there. I'm sorry that you, who are a naturalized citizen of the U.S., will (potentially) be questioned under this new law. I am glad you have joined us here. Please bear with us. As a nation, particularly in the State of Arizona, we have had bad experiences with some folks–a large number of folks–who look and sound a lot like you, but who are in this country illegally. While seeking them out, we may occasionally question you, but no offense is intended. I was once arrested, handcuffed, taken in and questioned, because my appearance was similar to the description of a purse-snatcher. It never crossed my mind that there was anything racist about "looking for a tall, thin WHITE guy", and I reject any such suggestion now, not only in the case of my arrest, but also in the enforcement of Federal Law under SB1070s in Arizona.

  • LBC American

    Do you really think that if you repeat a lie enough times that people will believe it? A drivers licence or state ID that is easily obtained by a US citizen will satisfy law enforcement. If you want to assign blame for your fear of being mistaken for an illegal alien then blame the millions of foreign invaders that look like you, not the people trying to enforce the law.

  • Tony

    I'm a third generation Texan who's forefathers came from Mexico. After reading the bill passed in Arizona, it's not racist. Read the bill THEN tell me it's racist. Don't make the same mistake many politicians are making, including Obama, who haven't read the bill. They're voicing opinions based on their own biasis instead of researching the subject as any intelligent person will do. If you chosse to remain ignorant, that's cool, but you make the rest of us Latinos look like idiots.