President Obama’s end-run of Congress to give around 5 million illegal aliens quasilegal status seems to be giving more and more Christians pause. The combination of acting outside the constitutional bounds, exercising what amounts to legislative powers reserved to Congress, plus the president’s bald-faced misuse of Scripture in an attempt to justify his highly questionable action may be backfiring.
When he announced his executive initiative to legalize millions of illegals, Obama cited Exodus 23:9, which is one of several similar reminders to Old Testament Israelites of their own sojourn in Egypt: “You shall not oppress a stranger; you know the heart of a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
But one of the many Christians to take issue with this abuse of the Bible for crass political purposes criticizes such bogus proof-texting. Baptist seminary professor Mark Coppenger writes that “in invoking Exodus to push his immigration policy, . . . [Obama] . . . ran roughshod over context.” A former pastor of mine has often said that biblical “text without a context is a pretext.”
Coppenger cites important differences between the ancient Israelite circumstance and that of the largely Latino population unlawfully living in America and getting unjust reprieve from a rogue White House acting in unlawful ways. “Moses used enslavement in Egypt as his reference for oppression, hardly comparable to a flight back to Mexico City. And what of other passages, such as Romans 13:1-7, which honors the rule of law?”
Among the deeper thinkers on such matters, Kelly Monroe Kullberg of Christians for Biblical Immigration contrasts the president’s unbiblical lawlessness with “thinking of the whole counsel of Scripture for cultural stewardship.
“The Bible teaches wise welcome, not blanket amnesty. Biblical teaching would give first consideration to foreigners applying to come to America as blessing, and lawfully (4 million have applied and are waiting). I believe blanket amnesty of many millions more is unwise. Amnesty is unkind to nearly 20 million Americans who are currently looking but cannot find a job. Wisdom and kindness would bring millions of jobs to America before more competition for scare jobs. Biblical wisdom would protect Americans from open borders and the risks associated with amnesty; illegal entry into the country by violent Islamists, narco gangs and those who knowingly enter with dangerous diseases like Ebola. Our goal is not hostility, but hospitality.”
The brilliant observer Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, notes that Obama’s religious fig leaf coalition’s radical antisovereignty and proamnesty stance has made it complicit in Obama’s unconstitutional power play. These zealots are “dismissive if not contemptuous of skeptics lacking enthusiasm for their prioritization of mass legalization over greater security, deriding them as virtual bigots. In fact, these skeptics include large numbers within their own religious constituencies.”
This sort of clear, biblically informed thought shines a spotlight on Obama’s cynical pretext. Such scrutiny is forcing even those who have collaborated with this administration on mass amnesty to ease back. As USAToday reported, the president’s unilateral move “threatens to fracture a broad, and rare, coalition of religious groups.”
Now, some of his political enablers have disagreed with Obama’s methods.
“Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said the president's move could tear apart that coalition and halt the momentum it established for passing a plan through Congress.” As Moore understates it, “It certainly didn’t help.”
Moore, who has embraced the George Soros-funded Evangelical Immigration Table alongside globalist Catholic and mainline Protestant bishops and theologically bankrupt activists such as Jim Wallis of Sojourners, writes in TIME that “this is an unwise and counterproductive move.”
Southern Baptist Seminary President Albert Mohler, who has to date bought into the Southern Baptist Convention’s recent conversion to a “we can’t deport them all so let’s legalize them all” false doctrine and paper-thin policy, um, “analysis,” even distances himself from the Obama power play. “What President Obama is threatening to do is to offer policies that will cover twice as many people [as the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act] without legislation – solely by his executive authority, or what he claims is his executive authority.”
Not all in the religious community have awakened from their antibiblical soft-headedness on immigration and amnesty. For instance, Miami’s Catholic bishop is fine with Obama’s abuse of power: “All these people upset with Obama making this decision just have to take a deep breath."
And Rev. Gabriel Salguero of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, who joined Obama on his Air Force One flight to Las Vegas to sell this authoritarian amnesty, voiced support for the illegitimate means of granting amnesty.
But a proamnesty politician, Florida Republican Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, tells USAToday he believes “the president's decision could blow up the tenuous religious coalition that will be critical to any progress in Congress.” As Diaz-Balart sees it, “the president now, I think, has really driven a very, very large wedge into it.”
Tooley, the watchdog protecting faithful biblical Christianity, offers an alternative for once Obama’s shameful ploy is reversed. “Maybe in the wake of the failure of legislation for mass legalization, followed by executive amnesty, more sensible parts of the religious immigration coalition will consider a modified approach. How about prioritizing border and visa security, advocating a legalization process only after some level of security is achieved, and a broad consensus then becomes possible? How about making theological arguments for security, for walls that protect, for rule of law, and for sustainable immigration based on enlightened national interest?
“And how about a new ministry focus that helps potential illegal immigrants consider other constructive options besides quitting their homelands and violating U.S. law?”
The executive amnesty falls short of biblical prudence. Obama’s end-run of Congress fails each of the four criteria I have identified elsewhere for ascertaining whether a public policy accords with biblical prudence. This executive amnesty doesn’t advance order in our nation, it not only doesn’t advance justice but it advances injustice, it goes well beyond the biblical duties for civil government, and isn’t carefully crafted to meet its goal in the least expansive manner and achieved by means that promote consensus among the citizens of our nation.
Thankfully, there are God-fearing Christians in our nation who are willing to speak up when the emperor has no clothes. Like Elijah, Moses, Jesus, Paul, Peter, and others, some American Christians are willing to speak truth to power. The president has thrown down the gauntlet. God willing, this disgusting abuse of power will continue to be called into question by more and more Christians.
JIM EDWARDS is part of NumbersUSA's Capitol Hill team and coauthor of The Congressional Politics of Immigration Reform
Updated: Tue, Dec 16th 2014 @ 10:05am EST