Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Some thoughts on the Colorado Council of Churches letter

Thanks to each of you who made comments on the letter from the Colorado Council of Churches. Good job! I learned something from each of you.

I said I would post my comments when I blogged again. Oh, golly. Where do I start?
  • "human created political borders"? Is it somehow wrong to have borders to our nation? The Council makes it sound as if it's a bad thing. Shame on us. And a nation's borders are only "political"? What about defining geographic boundaries for each nation? This isn't a bad thing--it's a practical thing. And we have a right to protect our borders and national security. They are not just political boundaries.
  • "A child of God may do something illegal, but no child of God is illegal"? Everyone with a brain understands using the term "illegal" in this context means a person who has come into our country illegally.
  • "the intrinsic value of every human being..." The immigration laws of the United States do not devalue human beings who immigrate legally. They don't even devalue people who come illegally. Nor does it devalue anyone when we want them to do it right and obey our laws. No one wants illegal immigrants to be mistreated. Wanting them to obey our laws is not mistreating them.
  • "...advance the perspective and public policies which reflect the Gospel message of love, inclusion and compassion for all of God's people." Our immigration laws and promoting legal immigration in no way opposes the Gospel message of love...etc.
  • Our laws (and demanding people obey our laws) in no way fails to "recognize the humanity and value of everyone within our borders, whether they are here legally, or not" as the Council's Statement implies.
  • None of the four points from Scripture seem on point. What about Romans 13:1-7?!
  • We have no problem being kind to people who are different than "us." It is not unkind to want them to obey the laws of the United States.
  • "inclusion" That word always makes me uneasy. It implies we must include everyone. Sounds good on the surface. But we are required to include people who do wrong. No, they may be included when they begin to do what is right.
  • I don't know of anyone who is treating people who are in this country illegally in a wrong way. Wanting them to obey our laws, wanting our law enforcement to enforce our laws is not treating people without mercy, unfairly, without kindness, and without justice as the letter implies. As a matter of fact, we want true justice. However "justice" in the church language nowadays seems to mean everyone gets treated the same. People how don't earn as much money need to have the same as people who earn more or the world is so unjust! (Um, sounds like socialism to me.) We can't act with justice (in immigration) or else we're being unjust. Let people break any law (whether man's or God's) and we must treat them as if everything's fine. Just love them...and everything will be fine. Don't make they do what is right, obey any law because that's mean. Just love them...
  • The Council successfully implied anyone who disagrees is a racist, filled with hatred, a bigot, and is prejudiced.
  • Then we get to the part about how we are all immigrants or descendants of immigrants and some have really treated others badly in our past. Oh, can't forget that. And, um, ...what's the point? Oh yeah. To induce guilt. Nice tactic.
  • "...we are no better than how we treat the stranger amongst us." We treat strangers pretty well! Even if the stranger amongst us entered our country illegally.
  • "...support legislation and policy that approaches immigration issues with compassion and respect toward all people..." Uh, that's what we have now. We just want those policies enforced. It's interesting to me they include law enforcement in their list of everyone who struggles. Law enforcement officers have taken an oath and have sworn to uphold the laws of this land and protect this nation and the people in it, yet the Colorado Council of Churches is saying they should not honor that oath of office, should not uphold the laws of this land, and should not protect this nation from those who enter illegally even though among them may be some who intend to do us harm. The Council wants our law enforcement people to overlook our laws. How crazy is that?

These are weak arguments. They attempt to support wrong-doing and use common tactics to try to force the rest of us to agree:

  • using guilt and shame to quiet those who think differently
  • using inflammatory words like racism, hatred, bigotry and prejudice to imply that is what we are if we disagree

The Council promotes "love" in a way that implies that those of use who disagree with them are not loving. And since when does love exclude obedience? Those who take the laws of man--and breaking the laws of man--so lightly no doubt have the same regard for the laws of God.

"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, and agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.

"This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor."

Romans 13:1-7, New International Version of the Holy Bible


Tomás Aquinas said...

Good day to you, ButtsAboutIt.

I am struck by the overwhelming negativism in your blog. I agree that there are many things about television, Hollywood, and so on that leave much to be desired. However, I do not see the level of 'assault' on Christians or moderate Americans as you.

I do not agree that we should not be picketing. Why not? We have that right. And, the ACLU will protect that right.

Using guilt and shame are tactics that churches have successfully used to control adherents, for generation upon generation.

Regarding the Council of Churches' call to law enforcement: Do you feel as strongly about law enforcement standing by their oath when they offer protections to pro-abortion speakers? Muslims? Neo-Nazis? You cannot pick and choose when you will honor an oath that you have taken.

Would you agree that the Council seems to have entered upon the introductory stages of liberation theology?

Would you mind expanding your views on these matters?

Thank you.

Tomás Aquinas said...

Another thought, based on your scriptural reference from Romans at the end of your article.

How do you reconcile Paul's exhortation to obey authority in the case of communist regimes? Fascist regimes?

Paul makes no differentiation in the auhority's ideology.

How do you feel about complying with Paul's exhortation to pay taxes when you know that a great proportion of your taxes will go to social welfare programs of doubtful value?

At what point does civil disobedience become a mandate from God as opposed to mere secular criminal behavior?

damomo4 said...

Disagreement doesn't mean dishonor, or even disobedience. It's simply a difference of opinion.

As a member of the church, our lives are said to be Christian. As a citizen of the United States we are said to be Americans. In both instances, we belong, because we are members or citizens of a bordered entity. Those who are outside the borders, be they legal, spiritual, or physical, don't have the same rights, privileges, or accesses, as well they should not.

Clearly a definition of boundaries, the differences are not so much a good or bad thing as simply what is.

Those who enter our borders illegally are not necessarily bad, their method of entry is wrong, unjust, and must be corrected. The individuals themselves are not bad. They are rather inconsistent with the boundaries or limits of the land.

Obedience to the laws of the land doesn't make you a bad person, it makes you a respectful person.

God honors that respect. The law of the land doesn't come above God, it comes with God. We should respond as Christians to wrong with prayer and an attitude of servitude. How can we better serve God in this instance?

Tomás Aquinas said...

I am not sure if you were making a general statement or replying to some of my questions.

Paul was not writing about complying with the laws of the United States. He was writing about submitting to secular authority. He lived in a time when secular authority was often oppressive. Perhaps he should have listened to his own advice. He would still have his head.

What do you say to missionaries to countries with oppressive regimes, who enter and conduct missionary work in violation of that country's laws? Is that acceptable? How is it consistent with Romans?

I do not believe that the United States immigration laws are unjust or inhumane. It seems that this Council of Churches disagrees with my view. They do not seem to see US immigration law as congruent with God's will.

Are they wrong? Who determines when the laws of nations are consistent with God? This is why I asked about totalitarian regimes. Paul made no differentiation in 'quality of regime'. He just talks about secular authority.

I ask again: Is this council engaging in liberation theology? Is liberation theology bad? Martin Luther King Jr did not think so. What about your Berrigan Brothers? Benedict has long opposed liberation theology and has gone to great lengths to keep the Jesuits -long known for their propensity for this type of activity- on a leash, yet recently has been softening his position. I wonder why that is.