Since the onset of the Reagan Revolution, the Republican Party has used the smokescreen of “family values” to win over the Christian vote, and it has worked for them exceedingly well. Of course, the name “family values” is a bit misleading, because the values that Republicans address are almost exclusively sexual values. While sexual values are indeed of tremendous importance to the Christian life, the truth is that they cannot be imposed upon people by law. It simply doesn’t work, because when two consenting adults engage in sexual immorality, there is no victim who will run to the cops.
But, as President Obama has repeatedly proven, we actually can help families legislatively. The first step of family values is ensuring that family members stay alive with livable wages and access to healthcare. This week, the President took the second step – ensuring that families stay together. Families that contain illegal immigrants need not worry about being torn away from their family members by the government, at least not for the next three years. I don’t have room to get into how the Bible repeatedly shows that the purpose of God’s laws is the well-being of people (For more on that, check out my book, Rescuing Religion from Republican Reason, which can be found on the “My Books” page of this website), but Obama’s immigration policy meets this biblical standard far more than Republican policies do.
Of course, Republicans have pounced on Obama for using Scripture to support his stance. And I’ll admit Obama hasn’t done this consistently, but I can see how he used it to help convince Christians that mercy on immigrants is biblical. More importantly, the Bible doesn’t just address immigration with one fleeting verse. Here’s another that shows us that immigrants are entitled to a share of the nation’s wealth:
Ezekiel 47:22, “You are to allot it [land] as an inheritance for yourselves and for the foreigners residing among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel.”
Of course, Republican Christians have been quick to argue that these verses do not address “illegal” immigration. They say they have nothing against immigration; it’s just “illegal” immigration that they oppose. Well, there’s a reason the Bible doesn’t address illegal immigration, and that’s because God never made any immigration illegal. It wasn’t even a consideration to declare that those God created couldn’t settle in any region of the world that God created.
While I understand that we cannot open the flood gates and let unlimited numbers of immigrants come here simultaneously because our facilities and infrastructure would be overrun, I cannot condone our immigration policy that invites the rich and banishes the poor. Having done door to door sales in predominantly Indian and Chinese housing developments, I have met one immigrant after another who had no trouble moving to America, because they had a successful business back home, and the U.S. Government welcomed them, even giving them special tax breaks on their businesses, knowing that they would spend their wealth here. But when it comes to impoverished immigrants, who might seek a means of support here rather than spend their wealth here, the U.S. turns them away. This makes perfect economic sense, but it makes no biblical sense at all. Our nation probably has a million times more wealth than ancient Israel did, yet ancient Israel was required to share some of that wealth. American conservatives, on the other hand, abhor sharing with the needy, and therefore take an anti-biblical stance on a very biblical issue.