George Washington: A Guide for Immigration Policy (or is he?)


I’m currently reading Ron Chernow’s biography of George Washington, and it is astonishingly good (I believe the proper word is “magisterial”). In the book, I’m currently in the late 80s (the 1780s, that is), in the odd period after the War, but before he was drafted into Presidential politics. He’s having old friends visit him at Mount Vernon while he’s doing renovations after its long wartime neglect.

One of those friends was Washington’s first real biographer, David Humphreys–an aide of Washington’s during the War. He liked Humphreys so much that after the British defeat at Yorktown, Washington had him take the British flags from the fort and deliver them in person to Congress as the sign of victory.

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Evangelicals on Immigration: finally doing something right.

barbed-liberty-flag-wallLast Thursday, after so much grueling debate and a tough amendments process, the Senate passed a comprehensive Immigration Reform bill. Now the bill moves from the grown-ups to the children in the Legislature, the House of Representatives, where Republicans are already playing politics with the issue, most likely thinking it will just magically “go away” like other reform attempts have.

But, the New York Times published a great article about how the pressures on the House are different this time. It was really encouraging.

The encouragement did not just come from Immigration Reform’s potential, but where Evangelicals have found themselves in the debate. In the article, there were these amazing lines:

Asked why he thought the overhaul had a fighting chance in the House, Ali Noorani, a veteran of many immigration wars, pointed to a big green mobile billboard that had circled Capitol Hill every day this week.

Its flashing message was “Praying for immigrants. Praying for Congress.” Groups of evangelical Christians prayed on the Capitol lawn for the Senate to pass its bill. Mr. Noorani’s group, the National Immigration Forum, has worked with Southern Baptists and other large evangelical denominations to coordinate prayer campaigns and run pro-overhaul spots on Christian radio stations in states where lawmakers might be persuaded to change their views.

“In 2007, we weren’t even on the radar,” said the Rev. Samuel Rodríguez, the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, an evangelical group. Mr. Rodríguez said he had been on the road continuously, addressing primarily non-Hispanic Christian conferences to spread the message on the overhaul.

Now, you may be an Evangelical and may be thinking “hey, I don’t agree with that bill!”. That’s not really my point. Evangelicalism has never been as monolithic or homogenous as many of its leaders have wanted it to be. I am under no illusion that all (or even most) Evangelicals find themselves actually agreeing with the Senate reform plan.

What’s more astonishing to me is that regardless of the nuances and complexities of thought among Evangelicals on this issue, this is the reputation Evangelicals are having in this discussionThis is what the wider world sees. This is what has been noted in America’s paper of record as the primary takeaway that the world needs to have when fitting in the force of Evangelicalism and Christianity into the broader narrative of this story.

Of the many forces this article talks about that push this discussion forward (religious, electoral, business, labour, etc.), I love that American Christians have the pride of place here as the first “force” listed.

For once, Evangelicals are being known for taking the lead in actual cultural change and not stalwart reactiveness to the force around them.

Yes, I know there are other potential factors: many Evangelicals might be more concerned with maintaining Republican dominance by “winning Hispanic votes” through this effort. Some may be reacting to their own demographic changes in the South, instead of their own heart and theological changes.

But still, it’s telling that none of these alternative narratives are offered in this piece.

I am certainly not one of those Christian twentysomethings that think that theological convictions have no place in one’s political beliefs, nor do I think that “laws” are inherently morally-neutral. All politics and legislation reflects one’s morality (just look at a nation’s wallet to see where their heart is) and, ultimately, their theological convictions. For once, I’m proud of American Christians as they interact politically on this issue.

As Christians, we are called to love Neighbor before Nation. Whatever “damage” you think these poor, marginalized people do to America economically, politically, or demographically, we are called to have more concern for their welfare than the welfare of the abstract idea of “our country”.

That’s not to say that illegal immigrants are not “breaking laws”, but as Christians we are not called to primarily relate to others based how obedient they have been to civil authorities or not. The main thing that dictates how we relate to them is the image of God in which they are made. And this has been sorely lacking in the Evangelical presence in this discussion.

There are few–if any–illegal immigrants that come to this nation with any malice in their heart or hostility in their intentions. At the very least, they deserve compassion before condemnation–especially from Christians. Even if you ultimately think they should legally be carted away, should not the first concern of Christians be to love them? Or at least not demonize them?

Illegal immigrants in America are some of the closest we’ll ever get to a single group that fits almost every criteria for those to whom Christian should offer support, deference, protection, and resources: the outcast, foreigner, poor, needy, alien, outsider, downtrodden, despised, and poor in spirit.

Supporting immigration reform is the easiest way that I can think of, in our current political situation, for Christians to follow-through with this oft-neglected dynamic of Christian faith. It’s one of the clearest ways that Christians can act “Christianly” in a direct, political way.

So learn about the bill, contact your representatives, and then pray for our leaders and those who will be most affected by their actions. And then go out and try love your neighbor some.

What do you think about the immigration bill? How does your faith guide this decision? How do you feel about Christians being known for this advocacy?

[image: “Barbed Liberty” by myself]

A Call for Economic Reform & Justice in Exports {2:The Good News}

Part 1 of this essay outlined Obama’s current economic aspirations and the current, seemingly unrelated economic injustices America perpetrates in its dealings.

Liberty and Justice for All… Americans

And this is where I wanted to take this. For rapid supply-side economic investment to work, there needs to be people not only “demanding” your American-made exports, but people that can actually purchase them! Obama’s export plan is meant to boost America productivity while he travels all over the world, signing economic deals with other nations (as he mentioned the other night in his State of the Union address).

A President cannot create demand; countries can want our products as much as they want, but if, because of American protectionist economic policies, they do not have the resources to purchase these things, then we will only succeed in flooding the market with useless manufactured goods and therefore lowering the global cost of these goods, which will end up hurting America. Continue reading

A Call for Economic Reform & Justice in Exports {1:The Bad News}

[“Part 2: The Good News” of this post is also up]

Now, I know that these two posts will probably not get that much traffic, and not many will read all of it; it doesn’t fit the “niche” of this blog nor its usual readership. But I just had to get these thoughts out. For those that mainly read my writings for the “religious” angle, there’s some of that at the end and, ultimately, these issues (and their solutions) really are fundamentally theological. How we look at God and how He deals with us, His world, and where He’s taking both of them really affect how the Church is the Church to a broken world. So I encourage all of you that would normally not read something like this to go ahead and take a stab at it. Leave your thoughts. Push back a little. Help me understand this better.

The Current Plan

On my way to work yesterday, I heard a very interesting interview on NPR with Andrew Liveris, CEO of Dow Chemical and author of the new book Make It in America: the Case for Re-Inventing the Economy (which I’ve just started reading, and I must say, is pretty remarkable). In the interview, he focuses on manufacturing, talking briefly about the role of manufacturing in bringing about President Obama’s recent strong emphasis on exports in job creation. Continue reading

Weekly Must-Reads {01.09.11}

Last week I experimented with a little feature on my new favorite bookmarking service, Diigo, where it would automatically write up a weekly blog post containing all my bookmarks for the week and the comments I posted and quotes I highlighted.  Well, I went in blind and the post last week was a little messy.  So, this week, I took some time to clean it up a bit.  This week’s articles range the gamut from abortion to blogging.  If you click the links, they will take you to a special annotated version of the page where you can even see the little sticky notes I left.  Please read any of these articles that interest you and please–if you could–let me know what you think down in the comments.  Thanks.

U.S. teenager tortured in Kuwait and barred re-entry into the U.S. – Glenn Greenwald –

I really don’t think the Founders wanted us to be terrified of our government.  Just think of it: you as an American citizen–with no legal record of any kind–could be studying abroad and have this happen to you.  This guy had NO indication that he could end up here.  This is like some crazy movie.  I’m actually scared of my country.

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