The Jazz Theologian

The Jazz Theologian


Arizona Immigration Enforcement Bill

posted by Robert Gelinas

There’s a lot of debate about Arizona’s new immigration and enforcement bill.  Have you read it?  Here it is.

My question is not what you think of the bill, but what process should a Christian go through to determine what a Christian response is?  Don’t share your opinion on the bill but the process you went through as a Christian to come to that opinion.  What people did you listen to; what passages of scripture did you turn to; did you read it yourself?  


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Timothy

posted April 26, 2010 at 1:14 pm


“Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt.”
Comparison between the United States and Israel is too stark to ignore. We came to this land to escape harsh treatment, but then we inflict it on others. Another sad part of this is that most of these undocumented workers are Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ.



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Dale Wetmore

posted April 26, 2010 at 1:29 pm


Robert, that is an excellent question!
It is tempting as a decision process to take one’s opinion and then look in the Bible for ideas that support it. But something tells me that is intellectually lazy and perhaps mistaken.
And yet … the answer is in the Bible somewhere, isn’t it?
The story that comes to mind is that of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. In that case, King Nebuchadnezzar wished to weaken the culture of Israel by taking away its leaders … diluting and weakening Israel, so to speak. Is not likewise the U.S. diluted if it will not enforce its immigration laws? Does the U.S. have anything special that is worth preserving? Our rights to free speech, freedom of assembly … our right to petition the government for redress of grievances … are they worth saving?
In other words, is it better to help the poor by preserving what makes America special, or by letting them all move in with us? This is the spiritual ratiocination I find myself working on.



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Katrina

posted April 26, 2010 at 3:46 pm


What comes to mind for me is Jesus’ response when he was asked what the greatest commandments are and his response sums up how we should treat our neighbors. Is Mexico not our neighbor?
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29 – 31



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Dale

posted April 26, 2010 at 6:35 pm


Robert,
I guess I don’t really understand the question … I don’t understand where you’re going with it.
- Are you asking about the process to determine a Christian response to immigration laws and national borders in general? (Almost every nation has immigration laws, right? I can’t imagine you’re asking if all countries are immoral to have them.)
- Or are you asking about the process to determine a Christian response to American immigration laws? (But I wonder where that could go … ours are rather lax compared to other countries, are they not?)
- Or are you asking about a Christian response to enforcing an existing law? (Could you be saying that it is moral to have immigration laws, but not to enforce them?)



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Robert Gelinas

posted April 27, 2010 at 10:01 am


Dale,
I’m wrestling internally. We can’t divorce ourselves from our experiences and biases (me included). Thus, some Christians lean toward protecting against racial profiling and others lean toward protecting our nation of laws (not sure those are the best examples)–both for Christian reasons.
So it seems to me that part of reaching conclusions as Christians means that we need to do so in community with Christians who differ from us.
rg



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Daniel

posted April 27, 2010 at 10:19 am


There are two questions a Christian should ask when evaluating a dispute to determine what would please God:
1) Which side is just?
2) Which side is weak?
If you come from the political left, you favor the side who is weak. This is why the left, for example, favors bomb-throwing Palestinians over Israel. Israel is strong. The Palestinians are weak. Bad Israel. The law is of no consequence.
If you come from the political right, you favor the side who obeys the law. This is why the right, for example, does not care about the plight of the immigrant who comes to the US illegally. If they are breaking the law, they are wrong. Bad illegal immigrant. Your sob story is of no consequence.
As a Christian, I must side with those who embrace a just and moral law. The illegal immigrants should be humanely returned to their country. So it is with every other country in the world! To do otherwise would be to love evil just because it is weak. The devil is happy to cloak his evil in the appearance of weakness. We as Christians should be wiser than that.



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Bryan

posted April 27, 2010 at 7:03 pm


As a believer, we need to follow Christ’s commands to love our neighbor, but we also must look at this situation in the bigger context…not a fishbowl fueled by our own experience and biases.
We do need to love. Only by looking at the bigger picture and greater good can we love an illegal immigrant and still believe they should leave our country. Our immigration policies can only be made as we look at the bigger picture of our country and it’s security and safety. Agreement with these laws is not mutually exclusive of having compassion…loving and caring. As believers many times I think we get too caught up in our emotions and relationships and think of only our situation and not how it might effect the larger community.
We love by our response, our conversation and by being consistent. Christ calls us to love in the midst of doing hard things, in the midst of conflict, in the midst of differeing opinions.
We need to define terms to understand each other. Words/phrases mean vastly different things to different people. If we don’t define/explore what each other mean, most of the time in these arguments, we’re all talking apples and oranges. A greater depth of understanding leads to greater clarity in our relationships. How can we truely love others if we aren’t really hearing what the other is communicating?
Politicans convolute this argument with immflamatory words like “racial profiling”….then it’s off to the races (no pun intended) and all we see is a civil rights issues. Then we find ourselves asking how do we respond to “racial profiling as a Christian” when maybe the real issue isn’t racial profiling at all…maybe it is just enforcing laws already on the books….
Christ calls us to love. Maybe we need work on this definition too…



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Jeff

posted April 28, 2010 at 3:24 pm


My process? The process has been defined by the word “relationship.” When you know the immigrants, their families, their dreams and aspirations, the desperate situations they left behind, the price they’ve paid, the fear they live under, their hunger to work — then immigration reform is no longer just an issue, but a human story. When you know Jesus, even in the small way that I do, you know how he subordinated law to the needs of people, including outcasts and “sinners” — people he knew personally, ate and partied with in their own homes. (Mark 2:13-3:7)



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Rob

posted April 28, 2010 at 4:05 pm


I guess I have more questions too….
I tend to think of our country and laws as not only us vs. some ambiguous govt figure (e.g. tyranny), but instead the laws and leaders are a reflection of the composite of our nation. I still think we have input and that our votes count on the small scale and also the national scale. We do and should always scrutinize our systems of government, for the very least to get the salt-flavored and illumition of light infused into every thought to bring them captive.
I believe that beleivers are a part of a vast community from all times past, and global in scope, separated only politically. And the composite of the US has made laws to say some who come here without permission are “illegal …”, and to many other posts point, we must obey the laws that have been established. However there is the second commandment that we do love our neighbors as ourselves. Does love mean returning people who’ve violated our laws back to their countries? Does it also require us as a nation to go help those countries create their own version of the American dream? Are the motives of immigrants purely financial, or do they want to some day join our churches and be a part of our society?



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Dale

posted April 28, 2010 at 6:30 pm


The stories of the immigrants are quite moving. They make it clear that they suffer, whereas many in our country are quite comfortable. This makes me want to side with the underdog. But does the Bible teach us to choose between right and wrong? Or between weak and strong?
Jesus was forgiving of people who did the wrong thing, but he did call them on it. Jesus was certainly sympathetic to the weak, but his strongest sense was between right and wrong.



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Jim H.

posted May 2, 2010 at 4:49 pm


I think you could start the process at the beginning with what God’s Word says about us and our relationship with the “other.” Or how we are to relate to the strangers, aliens, etc.
God told Abraham, “you are to be a blessing. . . ” What does that mean? imply?
Or we could just start with Loving God and loving our neighbor as our self. Who is our neighbor? Is love for neighbor really limited to neighbors who look like me, who’s families have been here as long as mine, or whose families arrived here following the same process mine did 150 years ago, arriving from Finland and other European countries?
Seems to me any process you take leads to the same conclusion.
If you start with a a very simplified, truncated reading of Romans 13, I guess you could come up with an idea you should enforce certain laws regards of the process of how they were determined and are being selectively enforced. Then again, I guess you could justify what the Nazi’d did in the 30′s and 40′s – they passed and then enforced laws.



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Paul

posted May 2, 2010 at 11:00 pm


Wow…Jim H….you could take a “truncated reading of Romans 13″ and deal with the issue from there…but I won’t.



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