Criticized for supporting an amnesty and legalization of illegal aliens, a dwindling number of national evangelical leaders sticking with the amnesty position are now saying, Oh, no, we don't support BLANKET amnesty!
Challenged for urging Congress to increase foreign labor importation during a time of high U.S. unemployment, these national religious leaders say, Oh, no, we don't support open borders.
Quizzed about whether they have improperly taken sides in a highly partisan political brawl, the evangelical spokesmen say, Oh, no, everything we advocate is prescribed by the scriptures.
The only real difference between them and politicians trying to wiggle out of voter discontent with their pro-amnesty positions is that the politicians tend to wrap themselves in Emma Lazarus's poem.
It is common for politicians caught doing the bidding of the greedy corporations seeking more cheap foreign labor to set up straw men based on accusations that have NOT been made against them. Then they proceed to easily knock down -- prove wrong -- the accusations that have not been made.
Undignified even for politicians, the straw man exercise veers toward unseemly dishonesty when employed by religious leaders.
Let's take a look at the flurry of defenses being posted and distributed, according to a story by the ChristianPost.com news service.
(Be sure to read our story about the much larger group of evangelical denominations that are distancing themselves from the pro-amnesty position.)
THE CASE AGAINST 'BLANKET' AMNESTY BUT FOR MASS LEGALIZATION
This comes from the Christian Reformed Church, headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which was one of the denominations leading the National Association of Evangelicals in its lobbying the U.S. Senate for legalization of illegal aliens this month:
Unfortunately, some people are reporting that the Christian Reformed Church is advocating amnesty for those who have entered the United States illegally. This is not the case.
While we strongly believe that all people are created in the image of God and should be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of national origin or immigrant status, we have not and are not advocating a blanket amnesty.
-- Gerard L. Dykstra, Executive Director, Christian Reformed Church
Hmmmm, notice how adroitly he switched the charge to being "blanket amnesty."
"Blanket amnesty" generally means that everybody gets the amnesty, that there are no criteria and no steps.
But the NAE suggests that illegal aliens pay fines and learn English and that violent felons be excluded from getting U.S. citizenship. Thus, these few evangelical leaders are like their politician counterparts who say giving legal status to illegal aliens is not a blanket amnesty, and actually not an amnesty at all.
These few evangelical leaders believe that the only objection of the members of the denomination is if what they are advocating can be called an amnesty. Call it something else, and it must be okay. But look a little closer and I think they will see that by any other name, rewarding immigration lawbreakers with the very thing they broke the law to obtain is not condoned by their church members.
Illegal aliens broke our immigration laws to steal two things: (1) the ability to live in the United States and take advantage of -- and overcrowd -- the infrastructure already paid by existing citizens, and (2) a U.S. job.
Yet, the Christian Reformed Church official line is that it is just swell to let the illegal aliens keep both the things they stole as long as they pay a fine (usually suggested at several hundred or a couple of thousand dollars). Now, just how many tens of millions of people around the world would gladly pay a TEN thousand dollar fine to be allowed to hold a U.S. job and live here?
But it wouldn't be a BLANKET amnesty because the NAE says the legalization should not go to illegal aliens convicted of violent crimes. Grand theft, though, is just fine.
Mr. Dykstra backs his claim of not supporting amnesty by stating "our position can be summarized" as calling for efficient, dignified borders, more immigration of extended family, bringing in more foreign workers to meet the demand of employers and:
There must be a sound, equitable process for currently undocumented immigrants who wish to assume the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship to earn legal status.
-- Christian Reformed Church statement
THE 'NO OPEN BORDERS' DEFENSE
The Christian Post news service reported that "Roy Taylor, chairman of the NAE Board of Director, wrote an article in 'byFaith,' the Web magazine of the Presbyterian Church in America, in which he addresses false assertions about the immigration resolution."
Not mentioning NumbersUSA by name, he accused our blogs, action alerts and news reports of relying on emotion instead of facts, and on distributing false information in an uncivil manner.
Besides denying the charge of supporting "blanket" amnesty which we didn't make, he states:
The (NAE) Immigration Resolution does not call for open borders; it calls for secure borders with an enforcement that is efficient and respectful of human dignity.
-- NAE chairman
We at NumbersUSA have not said that the NAE or its members are calling for open borders, so it is quite convenient to have that non-charge denied, as well.
What we have said is that the NAE has been highly influenced by the open-borders lobbies in Washington.
I find it most interesting that the main charge that I level at the NAE has not been addressed or even acknowledged by any of the defenders. That charge is that the NAE document and lobbying is based on the assertion that:
- The U.S. has a lot of illegal immigration because the feds don't bring in enough legal foreign labor.
- The U.S. could largely end illegal immigration by greatly increasing the flow of legal foreign labor.
I want to know where in the Bible the NAE has discovered this information because the evidence of labor shortages is nowhere to be found in the present factual existence of nearly 20% federal U-6 unemployment in this country.
To the credit of the Presbyterian Church in America, it has allowed an open forum for members to respond -- mostly negatively -- to Rev. Taylor's assertions.
WRAPPED IN THE BIBLE DOESN'T MEAN INSPIRED BY THE BIBLE
Leaders of only a handful of denominations have been willing to publicly defend the NAE labor-importation document. Besides the two above are leaders of the Assemblies of God and the Brethren in Christ Church, headquartered in Springfield, Missouri and in Grantham, Pennsylvania.
George O. Wood, the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, first placed a defense on the denomination's home page and then released a video message in an effort to “ease misunderstanding” that resulted from what he called inaccurate e-mails.
Like other members of the NAE executive committee who pushed the adoption of the labor-importation document, Mr. Wood emphasized how many references to scripture are included. Like all of the defenders, he cited the Bible’s teaching on how to treat immigrants. He stated that the NAE is not calling for amnesty for illegal aliens, but for the government to create humane ways to address the issue.
Somehow the Bible's very clear guidance to treat those classified as sojourners, aliens, strangers or foreigners in a humane way has been translated by these NAE leaders as a call for a nation to grant citizenship to virtually any foreigner who breaks the law to get into the country, as long as that person hasn't beaten anybody up and is willing to pay a fine.
Seriously, as a Midwestern radio host asked me today, can somebody show me where the Bible says to do that?
Religious leaders, allow me to let you in on a little secret: Most of your members are well aware that the Bible calls on them to avoid mistreating human beings of any kind. But where does it call for legalization of illegal aliens? Have any of you stopped to think through what the logical consequences of that would be as a continuing policy of a nation? If the Bible requires amnesty for these illegal aliens? Why would it not call for amnesty for all illegal aliens in the future? And if that is the case, wouldn't it be true that the Bible calls for open borders? Oh, wait, none of you support open borders. Does that mean you are going against the very biblical mandates that are your justification for the amnesty right now?
No matter how many biblical references you scatter through a document, and no matter how many high-sounding theological phrases you use, and no matter how obtusely you state your call for rewards for illegal immigrants, most of your members are going to see through what you are doing.
All the NAE defenders talk about the 18-month process in building the NAE immigration document. But the process had little intellectual integrity. For one thing, the NAE spurned offers to hear the justice arguments for restrained immigration levels. Because the NAE did a one-sided research, its document is filled with factual claims that are either provably wrong or highly contested.
EXHIBIT A OF THE PRO-AMNESTY DEFENSE
Finally, to illustrate all of my points above, I want to provide you with the official announcement from the Brethren in Christ denomination.
Let me point out that one of the big complaints of most of the NAE defenders is that "blogs" and "emails" have claimed that all the members of the NAE supported its immigration position.
Well, first of all, that is what the NAE's own press release indicated in its first paragraph. But get a load of how the Brethren statement starts:
The Brethren in Christ Church was among the 40 Christian denominations that voted unanimously in favor of the National Association of Evangelicals’ (NAE) resolution on comprehensive immigration reform. The vote came during the Association’s early October meeting in Washington, D.C.
In fact, we are now learning that most of the 40 denominations did NOT vote for the resolution.
According to Alan Robinson, BIC representative to the NAE and senior pastor of the Carlisle ( Pa.) BIC Church, the resolution calls the U.S. government to treat all immigrants with greater dignity and equity, while at the same time providing for national security and promoting the general welfare in just and appropriate ways.
If that were what the document were really about, do you think anybody would be talking about it, or criticizing it?
Who could be opposed to what he says next:
“From a Brethren in Christ perspective, immigration is an issue that we need to be concerned about,” says Robinson, who has served as the denomination’s representative to the NAE since 2008. He notes that the language of the resolution resonates strongly with a number of the denomination’s core values.
“This resolution takes seriously the authority of Scripture,” says Robinson. He points out that the document draws on both Old and New Testament passages to show that the Bible itself demonstrates concern for and mandates compassion toward immigrants.
Additionally, he says, the church’s commitment to valuing all human life fits with the resolution’s call for just and equitable treatment of immigrants, whether legal or illegal, since all individuals are made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-28).
OK, the whole document has been wrapped in scripture, but the actual call for legalization of illegal aliens is nowhere to be found in any of that. Do you see how easily this sleight of hand is engaged?
In the days following the unanimous vote, some bloggers and political pundits have denounced the NAE document as a push for universal amnesty and open borders—comments which Robinson characterizes as “false and missing the intent of the resolution.”
Straw men, straw men, straw men everywhere! Knock them down before they stuff a mattress and are smothered by a blanket amnesty!
For instance, the document does not use the term “amnesty” in its text. Rather, says Robinson, the resolution sketches a biblical basis for the sanctity of all human life and reminds Christians of their God-given responsibility to “welcome aliens and strangers” (Exodus 22:11, Leviticus 19:33-34, Romans 12:13, Hebrews 13:2).
Okay, what more justification do you need? The writers of this document have carefully avoided the use of the word "amnesty" so as not to inflame the church members. And they have reminded us that four -- count 'em -- books of the Bible talk of hospitality to aliens and strangers.
Either that means the Bible calls for open borders, or -- and I believe this with all my heart -- the biblical witness is quite a bit more sophisticated and complex, calling for the search for real facts, real analysis and real assessments of the results of various government actions -- setting down principles but not congressional legislative language.
All of you who are members of these denominations whose leaders are defending the labor-shortage, worker-importation, pro-amnesty NAE document, let me say this:
I truly am a little embarrassed to be taking after your leaders in this way. I know they and your denominations are much better than what appears here. Perhaps you will forgive my directness a little if I tell you that my own United Methodist Church has leaders who can equal yours in every one of these flaws of intellectual integrity and honesty.
My only request of you is that you do what you can within your own churches to stop the suffering that these leaders' flaws could end up causing millions of our most vulnerable neighbors in our national community.
ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA.
Updated: Mon, Oct 26th 2009 @ 5:42pm EDT