The Religious Left has discerned that Christianity and Judaism demand virtually open borders by the United States, if not by other nations. So naturally, many liberal church elites have quickly and angrily lashed out at Arizona’s new immigration law, ascribing to its backers the contempt that much of the Religious Left seems itself to have for many average Americans.
Arizona’s Episcopal Bishop Kirk Smith huffily declared: “Today is a sad day in the struggle to see all God’s people treated in a humane and compassionate manner.” And he tut-tutted: “It seems that for now the advocates of fear and hatred have won over those of charity and love. Arizona claims to be a Golden Rule State. We have not lived up to that claim.”
It’s doubtful that the Episcopal Church in Arizona has been very successful in broadening it’s WASPy flock to include many immigrants. Still, Bishop Kirk presumes to be their spokesman and moral leader on behalf of the Golden Rule: “We will continue to work as hard as we can to defeat this law and to work toward just and fair laws that protect the rights of all human beings. We all know that our immigration system is broken, but it cannot be fixed by scape-goating the most vulnerable of those among us.”
Not content to defer to the local bishop, the Episcopal Church’s lobby office in Washington, D.C. also irritably chimed in against the Arizona law, bemoaning that the “lack of fair and humane immigration reform opens the door to misguided and divisive state and local attempts to address immigration enforcement.” Of course, the Episcopal lobbyists want a national amnesty that would override state attempts at immigration enforcement: “We urge Congress to provide a solution to a broken immigration system that separates families, spreads fear and keeps millions living in the shadows. Every day, members of our congregations see the unacceptable consequences of our broken immigration system. We urge the Senate and House to enact bipartisan immigration reform that reunites families, protects the rights of all workers, and provides an opportunity for undocumented immigrants to earn legal status.”
Of course, like the rest of the Religious Left, the Episcopal lobbyists simplistically portray their open borders policy as “Christians…[who] are called to embrace the stranger and to find Christ in all who come to us in need.” And like the Religious Left, they assume that solutions to vast social problems can be solved by sweeping legislation. “With strong leadership in Congress, we are confident we can solve the broken immigration system. We encourage members of Congress to join faith leaders to stand up for immigration policies that renew the dignity and human rights of everyone.”
But what if the open borders and amnesty that the Religious Left typically advocates in fact do not “renew the dignity and human rights of everyone” and instead only create more social disruption whose chief victims are ultimately low income native born and immigrants who lack the economic privileges of most Religious Left elites, especially Episcopalians? In typical fashion, the Religious Left does not ponder unintended consequences and instead assumes that good intentions and political correctness are sufficient.
Evangelical Left Sojourners chief Jim Wallis wants evangelicals to follow the old Religious Left in distilling the Gospel down to the Left’s latest political demands and prejudices. “The law … is a social and racial sin, and should be denounced as such by people of faith and conscience across the nation,” Wallis intoned. “It is not just about Arizona, but about all of us, and about what kind of country we want to be. It is not only mean-spirited — it will be ineffective and will only serve to further divide communities in Arizona, making everyone more fearful and less safe.”
Arizona’s new crack down on illegal immigration may or may not have faults, but will it make lawful Arizonans “less safe? Security and effective law enforcement are not typical strong emphases for Wallis or the Religious Left generally. Instead, they often prefer name calling and charges of bigotry. “This legislation feels reactionary and hateful,” claims Church World Service chief John McCullough, who heads the National Council of Churches’ relief arm. “It is a clear representation of the politics of division and exclusion.”
Even more hyperbolic was National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference chief Samuel Rodriguez, who has also successfully pressed the National Association of Evangelicals to adopt a liberalized immigration agenda. “Today, Arizona stands as the state with the most xenophobic and nativist laws in the country,” he pronounced, almost as a curse. “We need a multi-ethnic firewall against the extremists in our nation who desire to separate us rather than bring us together. Shame on you Arizona Republicans and shame on you Senator John McCain for endorsing the legislation.”
Rodriguez claims to represent virtually all Hispanic evangelicals, and naïve Anglo evangelical churchmen obligingly accept his claims, not considering that many Hispanic and other legal immigrants also have concerns about law enforcement, security, and open borders’ impact on their own ability to advance economically. Instead, the Religious and Evangelical Left idealize immigration as merely a bumper sticker social justice issue dividing forces of light from bigoted forces of darkness. Contrary to their claims, the Almighty has not directly revealed His preferences for U.S. immigration policy. But traditional Christian and Jewish moral teachings about human nature and statecraft offer better guidance than the slapdash pseudo-thinking of the Arizona law’s seething religious critics.