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Thom Wade

Patriotism and the Christian Faith

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Persiflage wrote:

: . . . we saved Europe at least twice . . .

I'm guessing World War II was one of those occasions. What was the other?

You might be thinking of World War I, but I have heard that America's late entry (three years into a four-year conflict) might have been what prompted the Germans to help Lenin return to Russia, in exchange for which Lenin took Russia out of the war, which allowed the Germans to focus all their efforts on the western front instead of dividing their energies between the east and west. So... in other words... if America had not joined the war, the Bolsheviks might not have conquered Russia, and the 70-odd years of Soviet rule might never have happened.

Just a theory, perhaps. But anyhoo.

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I don't love America. I don't hate America. I am ambivalent in about 3,783 different ways about America. "America" is so different as a concept from the reality of America that it's almost impossible for me to parse the notion of patriotism in any meaningful sense, let alone one that purports to take into account the Christian notion of loving and honoring family. This is a family that takes in the Founding Fathers and Kim Kardashian, Abe Lincoln and Bernie Madoff, Martin Luther King and Howard Stern. It's all America.

You seem to be implying that Kardashian, Madoff and Stern are somehow equals with the Founding Fathers, Lincoln and King - in their accomplishments? ... in their influence and thinking? ... in their affect upon what it actually means to be an American? I don't see it. At all. Allowing the likes of Kardashian and Stern to stop you from loving your country is a very sad thing.

America is piety and crassness, freedom for all and unfathomable greed, the inherent dignity of each human life and total disregard for the most helpless lives. It's no wonder that the rest of the world is so exasperated with us. We are utterly clueless as a nation. We have no idea who we are, and we experience a total disconnect between reality and image, but we'll gladly sell that image to anyone who may or may not be interested.

You keep using this term "we", but you're voicing what is only a politically liberal elitist minority point of view. Go to any working class bar (even if they're all liberal labor union types) and they'll tell you what being American means. Most Americans are still proud of their history. It's only college professors who have instructed me that I ought to be ashamed and guilty about my history. We believe in "life, liberty, and the pursuit if happiness," we have a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people," we shed lots of blood to end slavery but we ended it, we saved Europe at least twice, we were the only power standing between freedom and complete Communist takeover, and when most people around the world sees the stars and stripes flying, they still think of freedom, prosperity and happiness (maybe not if you're French or a member of al-Qaeda, but just go traveling, we haven't taken the global PR hit the news media would like us to believe we have).

I love America enough to work for justice and mercy, and to believe that God can change America by changing Americans one life at a time. God knows we all need changing. I do. But I have no idea what to do with notion of patriotism as a Christian virtue.

Cultivate it by reading a few history books, feed it by taking a look at a war memorial once in a while, water it by occasionally actually reading the words of Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Adams, Jackson, Lincoln, Roosevelt, King, etc.

I'm not interested in the principles upon which this country was founded. That was 235 years ago.

Oh, they're nothing really. Just principles that declare you were born free with inalienable rights that God gave you as a gift, and that so was your neighbor, and so was the native in the jungle on the other side of the world. What on earth the fact that, these guys formed our government by relying on these principles 235 years ago has to do with anything at all, beats me.

I'm more interested in what the country is like today. And the country today is so fragmented and so utterly devoted to the pursuit of money, leisure, and happiness, to the exclusion of almost everything else, that I don't want to cloud that picture with anything related to Christianity. They should not be mixed except to the extent that doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God is always in short supply, and it's good to leaven the rest of our culture with those pursuits whenever and wherever we can.

The committee to abolish original sin hasn't quite succeeded in it's mission just yet. So yes, we, along with everyone else in the world, are all still sinners. We are still today, however, the one people standing between peace and war in many different parts of the world. We give more in foreign aid to third world countries than any other people in the world. We are, today, more willing than any other country in the world, to lose our own young men in fighting for the cause of another people's freedom. We are today, giving the rest of the world the best in scientific and technological advancements. And we are the best example for freedom that the world yet has to offer. I'd suggest reading just a little of immigrant turned citizen Dinish D'Souza sometime. This isn't to say other countries don't have their own unique contributions to the world and things to be valued as well. But don't be concluding, with my old college professors, that America just has a net negative influence right now.

I’ll take it on faith that you’re just having a bad day, and that you’re not normally this condescending.

The question here is not whether America was founded on lofty principles. It was. Nor is it whether those principles still inform the way America functions to some extent. They do.

The question is what it means for a Christian to “pledge allegiance” to the United States of America. In its unalloyed, theoretical glory, the kind of glory every kid is taught in school, and the guys down at the local bar still hold dear, America represents freedom and equality, liberty and justice for all, the place where the huddled masses yearning to be free can find welcome and a new life. Except in Arizona. But the reality is that America is a place that is ruled by money, where the bottom line is always the bottom line, and where Kim Kardashian, Bernard Madoff, and Howard Stern, and the views they represent, are far better known than Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay and The Federalist Papers. Just ask the guys down at the bar. America is driven by greed, image, and crassness. Sorry, but it’s true.

The problem is that America is all of those things. It’s not the idealistic beacon that you want to paint it to be. It’s not the totally depraved place that I’m positing as a counter-argument. It’s all of those things.

My primary allegiance is to Christ. And that certainly pertains to America because it means that I’m called to work for justice, to love mercy, to love and care for my neighbors and my neighborhood, my city, my state, my country, and to abide by their laws whenever they don’t contradict the law of God. But it doesn’t mean, I’m fairly certain, that I have to swallow the Great American Myth wholesale, that I can’t acknowledge that America is not the instantiation of God’s purposes on earth. That would be the New Jerusalem, not New York. In fact, I’m fairly certainly that my primary allegiance to Christ means that I should be very careful, that I should always view competing claims for allegiance with skepticism, that my dual citizenship always has a prior claim that takes precedence: “you were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.”

Those founding American principles sound nice. Really, they do. I like them. But there are other principles that take precedence. They transcend nations and political parties. And I’m not going to pretend that the America of 2011 bears much resemblance to either its own founding principles or those higher principles found in the Scriptures. Where they coincide, I’ll praise America. And where they don’t, I’ll criticize America. Regardless of what somebody wrote 200 years ago.

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I was suggesting that missionaries are nothing like an equivalent of soldiering at all.

The differences are vast and obvious, and yet ...

Persiflage is onto something when he suggests that Christianity is the basis for the idea of free democracy. (There's only one stable democracy in the Muslim world; it is, not coincidentally, the most Westernized of all Muslim countries, and its democracy survives only by being resolutely secular.) Whereas American evangelical missionaries can and should try to divest the gospel of as many cultural trappings as possible, they are unavoidably exporting at least two American ideas: 1) freedom of religion, i.e., the idea that people in every nation should be able to put aside one religion and choose another if they want to; 2) evangelicalism itself, a way of reading the Bible that has been developed primarily by Americans. So soldiers and missionaries have at least one thing in common: they both spread American values overseas, albeit, perhaps, different subsets of those values spread by different means.

Edited by mrmando

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I’ll take it on faith that you’re just having a bad day, and that you’re not normally this condescending.

The question here is not whether America was founded on lofty principles. It was. Nor is it whether those principles still inform the way America functions to some extent. They do.

The question is what it means for a Christian to “pledge allegiance” to the United States of America. In its unalloyed, theoretical glory, the kind of glory every kid is taught in school, and the guys down at the local bar still hold dear, America represents freedom and equality, liberty and justice for all, the place where the huddled masses yearning to be free can find welcome and a new life.

I'll admit I was reacting to an argument that annoys me. In law school, some students & professors would argue that the biggest problem with the founding fathers were that they were dead - and their ideas were oh so very old, you know, like, before Facebook. Even when I dealt with that argument back then, I didn't worry about being gentle. I can agree with you that our country has serious problems. Those fundamental principles we're talking about were not completely followed, even in 1787, and they still aren't completely followed today. The beauty of it is that we can still work towards following them. And it sounds like you're interested in doing that, so I'm with you.

Except in Arizona. But the reality is that America is a place that is ruled by money, where the bottom line is always the bottom line, and where Kim Kardashian, Bernard Madoff, and Howard Stern, and the views they represent, are far better known than Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay and The Federalist Papers. Just ask the guys down at the bar. America is driven by greed, image, and crassness. Sorry, but it’s true.

The problem is that America is all of those things. It’s not the idealistic beacon that you want to paint it to be. It’s not the totally depraved place that I’m positing as a counter-argument. It’s all of those things.

My primary allegiance is to Christ ... Those founding American principles sound nice. Really, they do. I like them. But there are other principles that take precedence. They transcend nations and political parties. And I’m not going to pretend that the America of 2011 bears much resemblance to either its own founding principles or those higher principles found in the Scriptures. Where they coincide, I’ll praise America. And where they don’t, I’ll criticize America. Regardless of what somebody wrote 200 years ago.

I'm in the middle of reading The Dumbest Generation, so I'm close to agreeing with you here also. I guess I'd just qualify this by also pointing out that blatant ignorance of where your country comes from (and this is an ignorance many Americans possess) is not necessarily reflective of what it actually means to be a citizen of your country. I didn't intend to come across as condescending, and I'm a little interested in why I came across that way. Am I making any assumptions I shouldn't? I respect your convictions about following Christ, and I agree that these are convictions that trump any allegiance to country. There are principles our government is founded on that I would argue are both universal and timeless - but principles of government are definitely not the same as the gospel.

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Andy Whitman wrote:

: . . . the place where the huddled masses yearning to be free can find welcome and a new life. Except in Arizona.

: . . . America is driven by greed, image, and crassness. Sorry, but it’s true.

And the huddled masses yearning for a new life aren't driven by greed, etc., in their own way? America is bad for being full of selfish people, but it's great because it appeals to selfish people overseas?

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I didn't intend to come across as condescending, and I'm a little interested in why I came across that way. Am I making any assumptions I shouldn't?

Maybe begin by unpacking all of the assumptions built into this one phrase:

you're voicing what is only a politically liberal elitist minority point of view

EDIT: Persiflage, please keep in mind that a lot of us here have been having conversations like this for a decade. Descriptors like "politically liberal elitist" might means something in certain parts of America's political "discourse," but here they just signal (to me, at least) that you're reacting against a straw man you've brought with you rather than responding to Andy, a guy who uses his real name in a public forum, a guy who we consider a friend, and a guy who (again, to me, at least) is making his own particular, well-articulated (if occasionally sarcastic) argument.

Edited by Darren H

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Andy Whitman wrote:

: . . . the place where the huddled masses yearning to be free can find welcome and a new life. Except in Arizona.

: . . . America is driven by greed, image, and crassness. Sorry, but it’s true.

And the huddled masses yearning for a new life aren't driven by greed, etc., in their own way? America is bad for being full of selfish people, but it's great because it appeals to selfish people overseas?

Except for Canadians. :P We know you're just coming for the weather.

Edited by Buckeye Jones

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America is bad for being full of selfish people, but it's great because it appeals to selfish people overseas?

Yes. Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

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Darren H wrote:

: Yes. Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Huddled multitudes, even. ;)

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Peter, are you saying America ought to have an immigration policy that discriminates between those immigrants who seek refuge and those who merely seek opportunity?

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I didn't intend to come across as condescending, and I'm a little interested in why I came across that way. Am I making any assumptions I shouldn't?

Maybe begin by unpacking all of the assumptions built into this one phrase:

you're voicing what is only a politically liberal elitist minority point of view

EDIT: Persiflage, please keep in mind that a lot of us here have been having conversations like this for a decade. Descriptors like "politically liberal elitist" might means something in certain parts of America's political "discourse," but here they just signal (to me, at least) that you're reacting against a straw man you've brought with you rather than responding to Andy, a guy who uses his real name in a public forum, a guy who we consider a friend, and a guy who (again, to me, at least) is making his own particular, well-articulated (if occasionally sarcastic) argument.

alright, I am assuming that there is a academic elitist point of view that teaches us to feel guilty about being Americans, and to be ashamed of our history - I was exposed to this point of view in college over and over again. But I'm willing to admit it's coming from my own limited experience in college. The idea that Americans are clueless to the realities of the outside world, that we have no identity, and that we advocate falsehoods around the world is an idea that I have trouble with. This isn't to say that Andy doesn't have a good point - criticizing modern day America is still a legitimate and useful exercise - and criticizing your own country is not necessarily unpatriotic.

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I think there's two separate issues here, though. That college students are taught to be ashamed of some aspects of our history is, I would say, a fact, and we could debate whether that's a net-negative or -positive for the long-term benefit of our colleges and students. But I'd want it to be an informed debate, one citing data rather than just anecdotal evidence. And I'd want us to unpack our personal biases in the process. (By the way, this isn't a debate I'm interested in having on the Internet.)

But that's a separate issue from the use of language such as "politically liberal elitist minority point of view" in a conversation among friends. You seem to have an entire worldview in mind when you write that, and you're reacting against that worldview despite the fact that, even if I understood what you mean exactly with that particular string of words (Are all academics elitist? Only those who are politically liberal? Am I politically liberal if I often vote for Republicans? Is the shamefulness of slavery a minority view?) -- despite the fact that, even if I knew what you meant, I doubt the worldview you're reacting against is remotely similar to Andy's.

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mrmando wrote:

: Peter, are you saying America ought to have an immigration policy that discriminates between those immigrants who seek refuge and those who merely seek opportunity?

I'd be surprised if your government wasn't already making a distinction between the two kinds of immigrant. And it's not a bad distinction to make. There's no reason to treat all immigrants as if they were the same. Indeed, it would be kind of stupid to do that.

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mrmando wrote:

: Peter, are you saying America ought to have an immigration policy that discriminates between those immigrants who seek refuge and those who merely seek opportunity?

I'd be surprised if your government wasn't already making a distinction between the two kinds of immigrant. And it's not a bad distinction to make. There's no reason to treat all immigrants as if they were the same. Indeed, it would be kind of stupid to do that.

They may be. But if they are, that's further evidence of the wide gulf between American myth and American reality. And it's further evidence of the wide gulf between a Christian response and an American response, and why it's always dangerous to conflate the two.

According to the myth, America is the land of opportunity, the land where the poor, penniless immigrant can stumble ashore and then grow up to be President. It is the land where we set forth our agenda right at the gateway to the nation, at the base of the Statue of Liberty:

Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me

But the American reality says, "Nice concept, but not really." Just ask Arizona.

The biblical message is equally clear:

"And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt." -- Deuteronomy 10:19

"Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt." - Exodus 22:21

"The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God." - Leviticus 19:4

"Do not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother. Do not abhor an Egyptian, because you lived as an alien in his country." - Deuteronomy 23:7

"You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the aliens who have settled 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. In whatever tribe the alien settles, there you are to give him his inheritance," declares the Sovereign LORD." - Ezekiel 47:22-23

The American reality says, "Keep out and stay out. We've got no opportunity here. And should you choose to come anyway, we reserve the right to harrass you because you look different and because you don't talk so good, like us."

Who wants to pledge allegiance to that? Not me.

Edited by Andy Whitman

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We had a huge thread on immigration policy a few years back, now lost to the closure of the politics forum. US immigration policy is maddeningly varied, with quotas for underrepresented people groups; skilled worker visas, family reunification visas (my brother in law's 10 year slog); refugee visas (handled, I believe by a slightly different branch), economic generation visas (for those willing to invest $1M in capital in the US economy--literally, you can buy a green card for a million bucks), student visas, and tourist visas (not for immigration).

It's an incoherent mess, and tens of thousands more people come illegally, which annoys a lot of people esp. those that followed the rules.

But at the heart of it, American immigration follows two overlapping and not equally weighted philosophies: (1) Is there an urgent need we can help? (2) Will this person help the economy?

As a Christian, it is helpful for me to think through the scriptural ethos Andy quotes above. It helps get me out of the "what can you do for me?" mindset.

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But the American reality says, "Nice concept, but not really." Just ask Arizona....The American reality says, "Keep out and stay out. We've got no opportunity here. And should you choose to come anyway, we reserve the right to harrass you because you look different and because you don't talk so good, like us."

Who wants to pledge allegiance to that? Not me.

Me neither.

But as someone who lives in one of those cities in America that opened its arms wide to the tide of immigrants and refugees between 1960 and 1980, I can tell you that the by-product of such a policy is not always so laudable. Of particular note is the way our city changed post-1980 Mariel Boatlift, when 125,000 refugees flooded Miami-- with some estimates citing as many as half of those being "undesirables" (prisoners, career criminals and the mentally ill).

There was such a visible change to the city and the way of life post-Mariel, that no one I know who lives here --not even fellow Cubans-- deny it. Higher than average unemployment (very few opportunities available for English-only applicants) one of the highest crime rates in the country, English as a minority language,etc... it's enough to stir up the inner Travis Bickle in the most charitable and liberal-minded.

"Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt." - Exodus 22:21... "The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God." - Leviticus 19:4
As a minority in Miami-Dade (17%), I am now technically the "stranger" here... as are all English-speaking anglos. Who will take us in?

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Andy Whitman wrote:

: And it's further evidence of the wide gulf between a Christian response and an American response, and why it's always dangerous to conflate the two.

Um, I wasn't aware that there WAS such a thing as a "Christian response" to immigration policy, any more than there is a "Christian response" to letting people stay in your house (do they pay rent? do you let them stay for free? well, it all comes down to your personal discernment, doesn't it?).

: According to the myth, America is the land of opportunity, the land where the poor, penniless immigrant can stumble ashore and then grow up to be President.

Um, well, no. Your Constitution requires -- and has always required -- that your Presidents be BORN in America, yes? I think that's an outdated law, myself, but I have never heard anyone propose the "myth" as you describe it here.

: But the American reality says, "Nice concept, but not really." Just ask Arizona.

Actually, Arizona accepts the huddled masses, too ... if they enter the country LEGALLY. Again, to treat all immigrants as identical makes no sense, and is actually kind of stupid. Some people who stay in your house pay rent, and others stay for free. Some people come through the front door and ask permission first, and some people sneak in the back door and squat in your basement. Some people you adopt into your family, and some people are never more than friends and/or boarders. Etc., etc.

: The biblical message is equally clear . . .

If you cherry-pick certain verses, sure. But cherry-picking doesn't settle this issue any more than it settles the question of pacifism vs. military service.

: The American reality says, "Keep out and stay out. We've got no opportunity here. And should you choose to come anyway, we reserve the right to harrass you because you look different and because you don't talk so good, like us."

Is this really the American reality? Or is this just an alternative American myth?

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I suspect that if we turn this into a heated political debate then the thread will get closed, guys...

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Andy Whitman wrote:

: And it's further evidence of the wide gulf between a Christian response and an American response, and why it's always dangerous to conflate the two.

Um, I wasn't aware that there WAS such a thing as a "Christian response" to immigration policy, any more than there is a "Christian response" to letting people stay in your house (do they pay rent? do you let them stay for free? well, it all comes down to your personal discernment, doesn't it?).

No, it doesn't come down to personal discernment.

Because there really is a Christian response to immigration policy. Seriously. It has to do with what the Bible teaches about immigrants. That sounds like it might at least be a good place to start, no? So let's start there. Let's assume that when the Bible clearly and consistently lays out the same message, again and again, that perhaps we should interpret the "Christian response" as what the Bible actually says.

And what the Bible says is this:

"And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt." -- Deuteronomy 10:19

"Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt." - Exodus 22:21

"The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God." - Leviticus 19:4

"Do not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother. Do not abhor an Egyptian, because you lived as an alien in his country." - Deuteronomy 23:7

"You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the aliens who have settled 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. In whatever tribe the alien settles, there you are to give him his inheritance," declares the Sovereign LORD." - Ezekiel 47:22-23

I didn't quote all the verses. There are many more. But they all essentially say what is stated above. This isn't "cherry picking." If you can find verses that state something else, that state that one should ignore the immigrant/alien, or oppress the immigrant/alien, or do anything other than welcome the immigrant/alien, then have at it. I'd like to see them.

This is the Christian response to immigration. The Bible and the Christian church can support no other. If you base your response to immigration on any other stance, that's fine. You're welcome to do that, as well. Base it on pragmatism. Base it on legality. Base it on too few jobs, and too many people, and alien undesirables flooding into the country. But just know that that's not the Christian response. Please don't attach the word "Christian" to it. It is unsupportable from the Biblical witness and Church history, which says that the alien and stranger is to be welcomed into our midst.

This topic concerns what it means for a Christian to be patriotic, to pledge allegiance to both God and country. I believe it is possible to do so. But some allegiances are more important than others, and some pledges take precedence over others. This is also a biblical concept, and it's laid out in Acts 5. This is an example of where those allegiances may come into conflict with one another. Guess which one ought to win?

Edited by Andy Whitman

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Andy Whitman wrote:

: Because there really is a Christian response to immigration policy. Seriously. It has to do with what the Bible teaches about immigrants. That sounds like it might at least be a good place to start, no?

So far all you've done is cherry-pick Old Testament passages about being nice to visitors, while ignoring the Old Testament passages about killing off the original inhabitants of the land and enslaving foreigners only (and not your own kin), etc. And you haven't quoted any actual New Testament passages yet, i.e. passages from the section of the Bible that is uniquely Christian and not part of a shared pre-Christian heritage.

And, more to the point, you haven't quoted any verses that give any sort of specific direction with regard to immigrant quotas and so forth. These are secular government policies and there is no particular "Christian" approach to them, any more than there is a particular "Christian" approach to taxation policies and so forth.

: Let's assume that when the Bible clearly and consistently lays out the same message, again and again . . .

First of all, I don't assume that the Bible DOES do that, partly for the reasons I just gave.

: Please don't attach the word "Christian" to that response.

Um, I think that's kind of my point: that this is a secular government matter and not a "Christian" matter.

: This is also a biblical concept, and it's laid out in Acts 5.

I see nothing about immigration policy in there.

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Andy Whitman wrote:

: Because there really is a Christian response to immigration policy. Seriously. It has to do with what the Bible teaches about immigrants. That sounds like it might at least be a good place to start, no?

So far all you've done is cherry-pick Old Testament passages about being nice to visitors, while ignoring the Old Testament passages about killing off the original inhabitants of the land and enslaving foreigners only (and not your own kin), etc. And you haven't quoted any actual New Testament passages yet, i.e. passages from the section of the Bible that is uniquely Christian and not part of a shared pre-Christian heritage.

And, more to the point, you haven't quoted any verses that give any sort of specific direction with regard to immigrant quotas and so forth. These are secular government policies and there is no particular "Christian" approach to them, any more than there is a particular "Christian" approach to taxation policies and so forth.

: Let's assume that when the Bible clearly and consistently lays out the same message, again and again . . .

First of all, I don't assume that the Bible DOES do that, partly for the reasons I just gave.

: Please don't attach the word "Christian" to that response.

Um, I think that's kind of my point: that this is a secular government matter and not a "Christian" matter.

: This is also a biblical concept, and it's laid out in Acts 5.

I see nothing about immigration policy in there.

Again, the best place to develop a biblical response to immigration policy is where the Bible actually discusses immigrants. What does it say?

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America is piety and crassness, freedom for all and unfathomable greed, the inherent dignity of each human life and total disregard for the most helpless lives. It's no wonder that the rest of the world is so exasperated with us. We are utterly clueless as a nation. We have no idea who we are, and we experience a total disconnect between reality and image, but we'll gladly sell that image to anyone who may or may not be interested.

You keep using this term "we", but you're voicing what is only a politically liberal elitist minority point of view.

I would disagree. Andy's comments sound like how almost all my extremely conservative, Republican friends and aquaintences talk about America.

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America is piety and crassness, freedom for all and unfathomable greed, the inherent dignity of each human life and total disregard for the most helpless lives. It's no wonder that the rest of the world is so exasperated with us. We are utterly clueless as a nation. We have no idea who we are, and we experience a total disconnect between reality and image, but we'll gladly sell that image to anyone who may or may not be interested.

You keep using this term "we", but you're voicing what is only a politically liberal elitist minority point of view.

I would disagree. Andy's comments sound like how almost all my extremely conservative, Republican friends and aquaintences talk about America.

Heh. Bless you.

The funny thing is I don't approach these issues from the standpoint of political parties. I'm not even particularly interested in thinking in those terms. I'm interested in the Kingdom of God coming to earth, and I believe there's some precedent for praying that way. I'm firmly convinced that Republicans don't have the answer. I'm firmly convinced that Democrats don't have the answer. But I'll work with either, or both, when their interests seem to coincide with bringing the Kingdom of God to earth. The naive part of me views this as part of the Christian life, although I've been around long enough to know that it's hopelessly convoluted, imperfect, and inexact.

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:)

I was merely pointing out there is nothing inherently liberal or conservative about you comment. I wasn't trying to pinpoint you as either liberal or conservative. :)

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Andy Whitman wrote:

: : : This is also a biblical concept, and it's laid out in Acts 5.

: :

: : I see nothing about immigration policy in there.

:

: Again, the best place to develop a biblical response to immigration policy is where the Bible actually discusses immigrants. What does it say?

Well, I thought I was asking *you* that. What *does* Acts 5 say about immigration policy?

As for the Old Testament, i.e. the document which guided and shaped the Israelite theocracy (and please note: neither your country nor mine is Israelite or a theocracy), we're back to the tension and conflict between passages that I have articulated before: e.g., in passages like the Book of Ruth, we find the foreigner (specifically, a Moabite) welcomed into Israel's ranks, while in passages like Nehemiah 13 we are told that our Old Testament heroes "excluded from Israel all who were of foreign descent" because Deuteronomy 23 explicitly forbids certain foreigners (including Moabites) from joining the assembly of Israel. And I've already alluded to the passage in Leviticus 25 which tells the Israelites that they are forbidden to enslave fellow Israelites, even if they become poor etc., but they CAN add to their slaves "from the nations around you" and from "the temporary residents living among you", etc.

FWIW, I can't help but find it funny that, when it comes to America, you see all sorts of awkwardly ambivalent diversity (from George Washington to Howard Stern), but when it comes to the Bible, you suddenly see only one message being taught, one image being projected.

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