Texas Faith: How to balance compassion with justice in the immigration debate?
by Wayne Slater, Dallas, Morning News/ Published 3:58 pm on February 26,2013
|Courtesy Dallas Morning News|
Conservative evangelicals have become unlikely allies in pressing for the establishment of a path to legal status and citizenship for 11 million undocumented residents. We published a story about that last week. People of faith have long been an integral part of the immigration debate. But it’s the increased involvement of conservative evangelicals with unquestioned social-conservative credentials that is worth noting as Congress and the White House consider immigration reform. Groups like the Evangelical Immigration Forum have sought to bring together a diverse coalition around the biblical injunction to welcome the stranger.
Wilshire Baptist Senior Pastor George Mason, a Texas Faith panel member, was quoted in the story:“Circumstances culturally and politically have thrown evangelicals back on their biblical authority, to ask what does the Bible really say about this. There may be lots of political positions that differ on how we accomplish it, but they want to be on the side of God in their minds. Otherwise, they feel they will be in some way accountable to God for their failure to be obedient.”
But what does the Bible say about immigration? The Bible does encourage kindness toward the outsider and the alien. But it also specifically says we are to follow the laws and obey civil authority. Millions of immigrants have broken the law. And we are a nation of laws.
At the heart of the political debate over immigration is the tension we often find in Scripture between justice and compassion. How do we reconcile that tension? How do faith-based people in a civil society do what’s both moral and just? Can we be both fair and right? Or do policy debates like immigration inevitably force us to take sides between two competing views — both of which make claims in our faith?
Considering the debate over immigration, what does your faith say about bridging justice and compassion?
MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas, and Speaker on interfaith matters, diversity and pluralism
Compassion is the means to Justice, and justice is the ultimate truth in preserving trust in a given society to function cohesively and effectively.
As a nation we quietly followed the ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ attitude with the undocumented workers because it suited us in boom times to meet the infrastructure needs of the 90’s. Now that we face unemployment, we are ready to throw them out, how disgustingly selfish could we be? It mocks our own sense of justice to deprive them and their children of the roots they have established here with our consent. The just thing to do is close the border first, and then offer amnesty to them as President Obama has proposed.
Here is an example of bridging justice and compassion in Islam: The 2nd Caliph of Islam Umar was known for Justice. He refused to punish a thief, as he saw that the state fell short of the responsibility to create a society where the man did not have to steal food to feed his kids, the very basic needs of life. He also removed the Christian ban on Jews to pray in Jerusalem in 638 AD after he conquered the City, the prevalent laws were no justice to him that deprived Jews to pray in what they believed.
Religion has been used, misused and abused to suit our lust for power. As a moderate Republican, I welcome the change of hearts among hard core Republicans with caution. Mason is right, “they want to be on the side of God” and I must add, hope they are sincere and not using God to gain new voters to get back in power to push their beliefs onto others.
The Bible, Quran and most of the scriptures say spread the good word to the four corners of the world. Mark 16:15, ‘Go into the entire world and proclaim the good news’ to the whole creation. Jesus, Moses, Krishna or Muhammad did not have political boundaries to worry about immigration. Do we follow them?
As the Jewish scriptures say Ve’ahavta la’ger, you must love the stranger to remove the sense of discomfort in him. Indeed, it is obligatory in all religions to greet the stranger and welcome him with a Salaam, Shalom, Peace, Namaste and other greetings. The long term security of the world comes through generosity and caring about others.
To read contributions of all the 14 panelists go to:
My 4 minutes Speech on Immigration Reforms:
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in Standing up for others and has done that throughout his life as an activist. Mike has a presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News; fortnightly at Huffington post; and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes all his work through many links.