Texas community bans immigrant processing and shelter

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League City, Texas, recently banned the processing or housing of any refugees within their boundaries. There is a humanitarian crisis going on in our border region. The United Nations has now classified this as a refugee crisis. No country likes having a refugee crisis on their border. The difference is that most countries allow international authorities to set up refugee camps and to become involved. In fact, the United States has helped out quite a few countries that have ended up with refugee camps within their borders. More than one president, Republican and Democrat, has sent aid to refugee camps and supported their existence because they saved people from a worse fate.

Until, of course, a humanitarian crisis sent refugees in our direction. All of a sudden, many of us are saying the exact opposite of what we have told other countries. We have asked other countries to receive the refugees and to be patient until the situation that began the refugee flow could be resolved. Now, in our own back yard, many are wanting the exact opposite to happen. They want the refugees sent back without any aid in resolving the issues that sent them flowing in our direction in the first place. One commentator to an article on this issue said angrily:

Nothing like a bunch of Christians showing their true colors. Yes we Americans are exceptional but in the wrong way. I am sure Jesus would be applauding these Hypocrites.

He is correct. Sadly, the very people who most claim American Exceptionalism have shown themselves only to be exceptionally lacking in compassion. [Note that there is one positive example and that is Glenn Beck who has consistently insisted on a loving and generous treatment of the children flooding in.] As you know, about a week ago, some protesters even blockaded a school bus taking American children to a YMCA summer camp. I noticed that when stories were written about that incident that it was said that the protesters “terrorized” those children. Yes, when it is American children, they are being terrorized. If they are foreign children, they are only being blockaded! But, I digress.

Sadly, what should be dealt with in the same fashion as we counseled other countries with refugee crises has become another opportunity for the partisan blame game. So another community has taken the opportunity to assert that the Federal government has nothing to say to them. The law is unenforceable on its face, as it tries to prevent the Federal government from doing that which is within its purview. Recently the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, sent the National Guard to the border. He said it was to protect the border from incoming drug lords. Of course, he has no proof that this is happening to any greater degree than has happened before. He even admitted that the troops could not and would not stop the refugees, but would give them a helping hand and take them to a processing center. Frankly, the Border Patrol can use that type of help, but the words Gov. Perry used to announce his decision were clearly, and only, political words about “drug lords,” etc. Nothing like stirring up people by claiming an increased influx of serious criminals with no proof.

As Christians, we need to take Glenn Beck’s advice. Those of us who are for amnesty need to make our case using words with passion but without anger. Those of us who are for a different solution to immigration and the border need to make our case using words with passion but without anger. All of us need to treat the refugees in a loving manner, ensuring that they have more than sufficient food, clothing, and shelter. All of us need to have said of us that Jesus would be applauding us and that we are not hypocrites. We can disagree passionately but without hate. We can fight for different solutions, but without distorting our opponents views, and without terrorizing the innocent. In our anger, let us not sin.

War is full of moral dilemmas

Rob Rogers

The comic above is trying to establish a moral equivalency between Hamas and Israel on the subject of the current round of bombings. It is a mistaken equivalency. If I were to draw a moral equivalency, I would do it on different reasons. However, discussing anything having to do with Israel and Hamas immediately triggers rabid reactions on both sides as is mocked in the video below.

What tends to happen in arguments about Israel is that we often concentrate on the incident in question while ignoring all previous history. USA theologically conservative Christians have been on Israel’s side since shortly after its founding. In part, it is because of the strong culture of apocalyptic thinking that permeated—and may still permeate—much of American culture. In that cultural viewpoint, we must support Israel because it is the equivalent of the third book of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, “The Return of the King.” Many theologically conservative Americans see the existence of Israel as a necessary prelude to the return of Our Lord Jesus Christ. More than that, they see the building of Jewish settlements and the driving out of the people of the land as equivalent to the Old Testament wars of conquest. Many who follow that theology foresee not only the Reconquista of all the lands that Israel held under David & Solomon, but also the rebuilding of the Temple and the re-establishment of Temple worship. Once Temple worship is re-established, it is but a short time until the Return of the King.

Under that theology, it would be easy to justify almost any action by Israel. After all, any opposition to Israel is an opposition to God’s plan. Folks who object to being thrown out of their homes and having the land that their parents and grandparents owned taken over by settlers simply do not understand God’s plan. There are some who will admit that particular actions by Israel are not appropriately moral. Even then, however, they will argue the equivalent of some eggs having to be broken in order to make a good omelet.

On the other side are some Christians who see Israel with a certain amount of displeasure. To them, any support of Israel is tantamount to the genocide of Palestinians. Among them are some Orthodox priests whom I know. It is interesting to hear their side of the story. One of them, a Palestinian, can tell me about how his grandfather was thrown off of land that had been owned by his family for generations. He had not participated in the conflicts against Israel. He was Arab Christian, so he did not have a strong stake in the conflict. Nevertheless, he was thrown off his land by invading Jewish forces. I know of more than one Arab priest, who comes from generations of Christians, that can tell a similar story. Their question for American Christians is how American Christians can support the taking of land and resources from their fellow Christians without protest and without support. More than one of them has wondered how could Christian not support Christian?

I do not have easy answers to questions of this type. Whatever we say nowadays about how Israel began, there is a country there now, a country recognized by the United Nations and the world community. In that sense, it does now have a right to national existence and peaceful borders. In fact, Israel is actually older than many countries that exist nowadays. One need only look at the Ukraine to see a country that is still in the throes of formation (or dissolution) and is much younger than Israel. On the other hand, this does not mean that we need to uncritically support any action by Israel. Sad to say, it is the very attitude of many American Christians that permits much of Israel’s ability to ignore the world community. [No, it is not true that the world community wants to destroy Israel, that is a convenient fiction that allows American Christians to ignore the world community.] Let us be honest with one another. Were a Muslim country to be taking some of the actions that Israel has taken, we would have conservative radio hosts bewailing lack of action by the President. Instead, we have conservative radio hosts urging Israel to take increasingly violent actions and urging the President to support them.

On the one hand Israel has the right to exist within peaceable borders. On the other hand, so do the Palestinians. Even the accords signed by the Israelis recognize a future that includes self-determination for the Palestinians. The right of Israel to exist does not give it the right to keep expanding its borders. The right of the Palestinians to self-determination do not give them the right to accomplish that goal violently. Both of the previous statements are true. One can neither simply claim that Jews are Zionists nor can one simply claim that Muslims are Jihadists. Finally, one cannot simply ignore Arab Christians nor use them as convenient proof that Muslims are evil. Let’s face it, in some ways Syrian Christians actually have a point that they were better off before Israel arrived! They may not have had full freedom and full rights, but on the other hand, they were allowed to live and work their land. After Israel, and the USA wars in the region, that is no longer true, and we American Christians bear some of the responsibility for that.

You see how confusing the moral landscape is on these issues? That is why I have no good answer.