So, I confess I helped perhaps a couple of dozen illegal aliens yesterday at my neighborhood church. It is a United Methodist congregation. The bishops of my church nationally are actively lobbying to give permanent U.S. jobs to those illegal aliens. But I want those jobs to go to unemployed Americans. Why do my bishops think they are more ethical and humanitarian than me because they lobby against jobless Americans? And why did I help the illegal aliens?
How many of you have found yourself in a situation where you either knew, or were pretty sure you knew, that you were being hospitable or even helpful to an illegal alien -- through a religious group, a civic group, in your neighborhood or just in an individual happenstance?
Were you being hypocritical to offer that individual kindness while working hard with NumbersUSA and others to try to push these immigration lawbreakers out of the country?
How does you particular group/church/etc. deal with likely illegal aliens who present themselves for the possibility of humanitarian care or civility? I'd like to know.
SALVATION ARMY HAS A PRETTY GOOD STANCE
I don't know if you read our story last week about the Salvation Army distancing itself from the National Association of Evangelicals on its pro-amnesty policy.
The Salvation Army is one of the big denominations in the NAE. But it put out a statement that it most definitely does not endorse the NAE's pro-amnesty stance. It said that it serves the needy "without discrimination" and will provide the same help to illegal aliens as it does to U.S. citizens. But it won't get involved in telling our government that it should give permanent work permits to the illegal aliens so they can have jobs instead of unemployed Americans. Good for them!
My guess is that most of us by now have been in the same situation where the government's refusal to enforce immigration laws under Bush the first, Clinton, Bush the second and now Obama has so filled our lives with immigration lawbreakers that it is very difficult not to be engaged in a human relationship of some kind or another with somebody whom we could, if we wanted, turn in to the authorities. Of course, the authorities would likely do nothing if we did.
Illegal aliens pass through my life not just in the soup kitchens but in my daily life and have even been in my house as guests as a result of just normal circumstance (but never as somebody I hired). Like many of you, I live in a local economy absolutely corrupted by the presence of masses of illegal workers.
INDIVIDUAL EXPERIENCES SHOULDN'T RULE -- POLICY SHOULD BE MADE ON THE OVERALL EFFECT
But back in my church basement where we fed 300 poor neighbors yesterday, my bishops would only see the people whom they would assume are illegal aliens. They lobby for THEM.
My bishops wouldn't see the rest of the room, filled with people born on American soil who are unemployed, down-and-out, badly in need of a society to need them badly enough to find a productive niche for them. It would never dawn on the bulk of my bishops (according to all of their official pronouncements) that when 7 million illegal aliens take construction, service and manufacturing jobs that 7 million Americans (and their families) are left holding the bag. Some 7 million of our own most vulnerable members of our national community are jobless because of illegal immigration. Where is the lobbying to deal with that?
I wouldn't want to be in a denomination where the bishops told me I couldn't feed and give a bag of groceries to a bunch of poor illegal aliens if that is what I felt (or my congreation felt) we should do as a matter of personal conscience.
But it grieves me to be in a denomination where my bishops choose sides in this way, jumping into an incredibly partisan political battle based on their experiences with individual illegal aliens while ignoring the overall societal impact.
The fact is that perhaps a majority of you reading this are also in a national religious group that is doing exactly the same thing (Jews, Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Assemblies of God, big evangelical megachurches, most Pentecostals).
They look right past the suffering Americans in their own communities and take the side of the criminal operations of outlaw businesses and the illegal foreign workers they hire. It is as if they would side with the Mafia because of its good internal family values, rather than looking at the overall balance sheet of harm to the society.
Friends, most of our national religious leaders are participating in a kind of mass hysteria in which they feed off each other's mythical fact sheets about immigration, never bothering to allow competing viewpoints a fair hearing. That most base their stances on a supposed labor shortage in the U.S. gives us a pretty good idea that they aren't in touch with reality. I am not saying that they have failed as religious leaders. But on this matter of immigration, most of them are undercutting many of the most precious values of their faith communities. It is up to all of us who are in faith communities to try to rescue our own religious leaders from further embarrasing our communities -- and to help them start focusing on the rest of the hurting people at the church basement soup kitchens.
ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA
Updated: Fri, Oct 23rd 2009 @ 6:55am EDT