Pulpit Reflections

Pulpit Reflections
One of the most vexing problems in modern America is that of immigration. There are several reasons for this, including the large numbers of people fleeing political oppression, the terrific rise in illegal immigration, and the entrance of large numbers of people who themselves wish to impose ideas contrary to the basic freedoms guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.

While some may wonder why a Christian pastor would be writing about what most see as a "political" question, I think it should be clear that there is a large religious dimension to this matter of immigration.

First of all, it needs to be understood that for its first 200 years, the United States was a refuge for those escaping specifically religious oppression. Whether from England, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Holland, or Russia, the settlers of North America were dissenters from the state churches in their native lands.

My own denomination, the Reformed Church of the U.S., was founded in 1725 by German refugees driven out of Europe by the "Thirty Years War" between Catholics and Protestants that ended in 1648. Thus the REASON for coming here was quite precious to most immigrants; it was for religious liberty.

Today a majority of immigrants are seeking escape from political oppression and poverty. Thus they come with a different agenda. They also enter a different society. Whereas from 1700 to 1900 folks who immigrated had to make their own way in a developing nation by taking on new jobs or homesteading the west, today immigrants find and many come for free social welfare services and jobs that pay much higher than those in the old country.

Since America has policed its borders very poorly, this has resulted in a tide of illegal immigration. Now, I believe that very few Americans are against immigration in itself, but a great many of us are very opposed to illegal immigration. Folks who violate the border of any nation, and live underground with forged documents, show by their own actions that they are dishonest folks, not good citizens. Anyone who enters Mexico illegally, for example, can expect severe punishment.

Now immigration itself is a biblical idea. Old Testament Israel, because it had been foreigners in Egypt, was required by God to allow immigration and integration of foreigners into its society. God demanded "one law" for foreigners and "native born" (Numbers 9:14; 15.29). You will not find any but a very few nations of the world open to immigration, even today, but the U.S. is a nation of immigrants.

Nevertheless, we are a nation of immigrants that agrees to the principles and ideas established by the founders of our nation in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. We need today to do something new about immigration.

We need not to become less interested, but even more strict about the prospective immigrant's commitment to American principles. We should not be afraid to share our wealth, but we dare not give up the liberty thousands of Americans have given their lives to defend.

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