Cherry Picker In Chief

If you appeal to Exodus for an immigration policy tweak, what do you do with Leviticus?

“Why oh why, as Richard Gamble asked, do American Christians allow the Bible to be so used and abused? Could it be that quoting the Bible is like hearing the furnace kick on, like just so much background noise? Judging by reactions to Obama’s speech, his “thus, sayeth the Lord” solved nothing.”

 

If you appeal to Exodus for an immigration policy tweak, what do you do with Leviticus?

Tonight President Barack Obama outlined his executive action on immigration reform, which could impact up to 5 million immigrants. He gave two citations: one from former President George W. Bush, and one from Exodus 23.

“Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger—we were strangers once, too,” said Obama. “My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too.”

This is boiler plate civil religion. Bush did it. Clinton did it. I get it.

So why oh why, as Richard Gamble asked, do American Christians allow the Bible to be so used and abused?

Could it be that quoting the Bible is like hearing the furnace kick on, like just so much background noise? Judging by reactions to Obama’s speech, his “thus, sayeth the Lord” solved nothing:

Meanwhile, Russell Moore explained why he agrees with reforming the United States’ “incoherent and unjust” immigration system, but disagrees with Obama’s decision to “act unilaterally.”

“On more than one occasion, I asked President Obama not to turn immigration reform into a red state/blue state issue,” said Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. “I also asked him not to act unilaterally, but to work for consensus through the legislative process. Acting unilaterally threatens that consensus, and is the wrong thing to do.

“My hope is that the Republicans in Congress will not allow the President’s actions here as a pretext for keeping in the rut of the status quo,” he continued. “More importantly, I pray that our churches will transcend all of this posing and maneuvering that we see in Washington. Whatever our agreements and disagreements on immigration policy, we as the Body of Christ are those who see every human life as reflecting the image of God.”

Noel Castellanos has long “urg[ed] Congress to fix our broken immigration system based on the biblical principles of love for neighbor and human dignity,” so he applauded Obama for “making good on his promise to give relief.”

“Now it is time for Congress to finish the job by passing comprehensive immigration reform,” said the CEO and president of the Christian Community Development Association. “Our nation as a whole, and our immigrant communities in particular are in desperate need of decisive action on immigration that will impact the well-being of our nation for generations to come.”

Leith Anderson acknowledged that while the “president’s announcement appears to offer important temporary help to many families, it is no substitute for congressional action that comprehensively fixes our broken immigration system.”

“Congressional leaders — both those who applaud the President and those who oppose his actions — must come together to negotiate bipartisan solutions. We call on both sides to lower the rhetoric and get to work,” the National Association of Evangelicals president said.

Appealing to the Bible resolves nothing. Same goes for the Roman pontiff. Maybe Christians need to get over Christian society.

D. G. Hart is Visiting Professor of History at Hillsdale College in Michigan, and also serves as an elder for a new Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Hillsdale. This article appeared on his blog and is used with permission.