Guest Blog by Daniel Darling I’m currently working on a project which includes a chapter on the prolife movement. As a committed prolifer myself, I liken the maturity and success of the defense of the unborn to William Wilberforce’s successful crusade against the slave trade in 19th Century Great Britain. Polls are consistently showing that a majority of Americans, even women, are against the practice of abortion. And younger generations are even more prolife than their parents. But I wonder if the immigration issue will become part of what is an expanding prolife portfolio for younger evangelicals. Today’s young evangelical activists are not only passionate about defense of the unborn, but they are equally as passionate about the scourge of human trafficking, the problem of child nutrition in developing countries, the problem of child poverty at home, and the need to care for AIDS victims around the world. Here’s hope that support for the undocumented worker in the United States follows. Now, before you deluge me with a bunch of anti-immigration rhetoric, know that most evangelicals, myself included, support stepped up border enforcement. Which is why we’re happy with the Obama administration’s unprecedented commitment. But where we split from the rank-and-file conservative movement is that we don’t view the undocumented immigrant as the enemy. We don’t view them as a threat. Yes, they did break the law and we believe there should be penalties for that. But our faith demands that we find a humane way to treat with dignity and respect the millions who are already here in our border. Many of them live in the shadows, in poverty and in fear that their families might be broken up and that their children, Americans by birth, born and raised here, might not get the opportunities to succeed that other immigrants receive. Their worst fear is that they might be sent back to a violent situation (such as is now too often the case in Mexico) where their lives would be threatened. I find it personally interesting that we have had such compassion for adopting or sponsoring children from around the world through organizations like Compassion International and others, but some quarters of the conservative movement want to strip the rights away from immigrant children in our midst, children who are here because of the sins of their parents. There is a growing concern in the evangelical movement to move away from the standard, boiler-plate talking points of the conservative fight and stand up for the refugees within our borders. Furthermore, Christians who take seriously the Great Commission must view the increasing immigrant population in our communities not as a threat, but as a great opportunity to fulfill the Great Commission. God is literally bringing the nations to us. Studies show that they are highly likely to be open to an evangelical gospel presentation. So our generation’s question must be, Will we extend our hands or will we show them a clenched fist? Will we side with the inflammatory anti-immigration rhetoric or will we follow the Scriptures and affirm the dignity and worth even of the “illegal” that might live next door? I’m hopeful that as Americans continue their steadfast support of the unborn, they will demonstrate that their hearts are big enough to hold another type of refugee, the undocumented immigrant.
Daniel Darling is the Senior Pastor at Gages Lake Bible Church in the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. His writing has been featured by Christianity Today, Focus on the Family, and On Faith (Washington Post/Newsweek). He is a regular columnist for Crosswalk.com, Enrichment Journal, and Lake County Journals and is a blogger with patheos.com. He is also the author of several books, including, most recently, iFaith: Connecting with God in the 21st Century (New Hope Publishers, 2011). Please note that the views expressed do not necessarily represent those of everyone associated with G92 or any institutions with which the blogger may be affiliated. If you’re interested in writing a guest blog, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tagged with: abortion • Compassion International • conservative • Family • Gages Lake Bible Church • human trafficking • pro-life • Scripture • undocumented immigrants • William Wilberforce
I recently watched a documentary on Auschwitz. They talked a lot about the propaganda that inundated the people of Germany for years before the Jews were arrested and sent to the death camps. I thought “how could they believe the lies?”. Then I realized that we as Americans are facing similar lies daily from politicians and the media. Telling us that the undocumented workers are the enemies of the middle class. Telling us that they are a sub-human class, that they are greedy and bring moral and economic decay to our communities. We must be careful to remember “the least of these”. And to do unto others as we would have them to unto us.
Mr. Darling, you are wrong. The rank-and-file conservative movement does not view undocumented immigrants as the enemy. We view the problem as the inability to have a sensible immigration policy because our political elites find it convenient to ignore immigration law; it is they who are the enemy. If you know any “rank-and-file” conservatives and you pay attention, I think you’ll find that the real “anti-” anger is directed at these political elites; even the hardest-line restrictionists sympathize with the plight of immigrant families.
Similarly, I find it interesting that so many Christians are so quick to judge that anyone who disagrees with their preferred public policies as “uncompassionate”, or that true compassion necessitates a capitulation of sovereignty and rule of law. That kind of false thinking is one of the things that created the mess we have. On the other hand, real compassion and concern for justice is precisely why the immigration issue is difficult; otherwise, the problem wouldn’t be very hard to solve at all.
You employ the same false dichotomies that President Obama likes to use: “Will we side with the inflammatory anti-immigration rhetoric or will we follow the Scriptures and affirm the dignity and worth even of the “illegal” that might live next door? Will we hate them or pass the DREAM act now? You shouldn’t be so sure of the righteousness of your policy conclusions.
I believe Bible-believing Christians must reject this logic. Should we not try to avoid perverting justice for the benefit of the poor and the sojourner while also not oppressing them? (http://esv.to/Exo.23:1-9, http://esv.to/Deut.16:18-20, http://esv.to/Pro.31:1-9)
We can be for enforcement AND sensible immigration policy AND affirm the dignity and worth of the illegal immigrant who lives next door. This is the rank-and-file conservative movement position.
Thanks, Daniel for a thoughtful, moving piece that calls for a consistent pro-life stance on multiple issues. while Christians of good-will may disagree on the exact ways to deal with the immigration issue, I appreciate your heart and your willingness to defend the lives of the vulnerable. Keep up the good work.