Last Crusade 24: Strangers and Sojourners

In an issue where emotions run high, it is crucial, it is necessary, to put all emotion aside and weigh the arguments on both sides with cold clarity of thought, according to objective and dispassionate rigor.

Such is the issue of legal and illegal immigration in America and Europe.

To the one side are those who see an economic benefit to allowing newcomers no matter their numbers, their nation of origin, or their religion, to flood into the nation; or who see the greater wealth and peace of the host country as creating an automatic obligation to welcome any aliens wishing entry, regardless of their numbers or intent.

To the other side are those who fear the flood will shift the political power in the host country to the disadvantage or even the displacement of the native population.

Wandering into this debate comes some Christian writers and leaders, claiming that the charity Heaven demands from the faithful requires the adoption of just such an open borders policy.

The complexities of this issue are beyond the reach of this column. Here and now we examine one and only one aspect of these several questions: the question of what the proper Christian is obligated by his love of Christ to support on these matters, versus what is a matter for prudential judgment, where honest Christians not obligated to agree, but have leave to differ.

Injecting religion into the debate usually puts so much strain on the debate as to end it in an eruption of mutual recrimination, accusation, and name-calling.

This is because religious matter trump secular matters, and so normal considerations of cost and benefit, and pragmatic questions, are swept aside. And this is as it should be: if the Word of God says one thing, and the word of man contradicts it, the word of man is of no account.

However, Christian teaching is full of warnings against false messiahs, false profits, false teachers, and Pharisees. Merely because a preacher preaches it, does not mean he speaks with the voice of heaven.

To learn the true will of heaven, Christians of all denominations must take the Bible as authoritative. Passages relating to this question are where our inquiry should start:

  • But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:34).
  • Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Ex 22:21).
  • Cursed be he that perverteth the judgment of the stranger, fatherless, and widow. And all the people shall say, Amen. (Dt 27:19).
  • And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the Lord your God. (Lev 23:22).
  • Thus saith the Lord; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place. (Jer 22:3).
  • One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you. (Ex 12:49).

There are nuances of meaning to these passages which may not be clear at first. However, there is are two main points which are clear.

Point one: Christian teaching is not a suicide pact.

The question of our current unnamed and undeclared global war with Islam is related to the question of migration from the Middle East because and only because the enemy is using mass migration as a weapon of war. In this effort they are aided and abetted by the Progressives.

The Progressives act in this generation just as the “useful idiots” aiding the ambitions of Communism acted a generation ago. For the Progressives, the displacement and even the destruction of the native populations is the desired goal, not the undesired side effect, of border-less migration.

The use of mass migration as a tool of warfare to destroy the host country is a matter about which there is no serious argument.

Nothing in Christian teaching requires pacifism in the face of brutal enemies bent on the destruction of Christendom.

As many have pointed out, the building of the wall around Jerusalem in the time of Nehemiah was on the express orders from heaven. This was both pragmatic and symbolic. Without a wall, Jerusalem declared herself to be an encampment of slaves and inferiors, not a city properly so called taking her rightful place among her peers as the city of a free and equal people.

Likewise even in the vision of Saint John of the Apocalypse, the New Jerusalem has a wall around it. Many of the symbols in that fantastic vision are unclear. Others are crystal clear.

“And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates…And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass…And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl.

The wall shows it is a sovereign city, and the many open gates show the city of God to be at peace.

The same passage, earlier mentions precisely whom the walls exclude. “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

By simple logic, if walls were forbidden by Christian charity, there could be no wall around the New Jerusalem, and hence no St. Peter at the pearly gates, because a gate without a wall is not really a gate. Nor is the gate open to everyone, because a gate open to everyone is not a gate.

Christians who are in favor of an unenforced open border policy make an argument that cannot honestly be framed within the context of Christian tradition.

Christians who are in favor of an open border are akin to the Christians who were in favor of pacifism in the dire years just before World War Two. No matter what they claimed their motives to be, the practical effect of pacifism was was aiding and abetting the rise of fascism, which was a powerful force bent on the destruction of Christianity.

In the same way, Open Border Christians who welcome Mohammedans among us, when the Mohammedans unambiguously seek the overthrow of our faith, our laws, our customs and our way of life, are in the same moral position as the Pacifists aiding fascism, who helped make World War Two what it was. The degree of their culpability only God can read in their hearts. But the fact that they are culpable any man can read in their actions.

Loving one’s neighbor, turning the other cheek, and praying for one’s enemies does not require inviting Jihadists into one’s home to rape one’s wife and daughters and kill one’s sons, and on the ruins to erect a Mosque where Christ will be daily blasphemed. That matter is open and shut. Barring the entry of Muslims from nations famed for their support of Jihad is allowed if not required by Christian teaching.

Likewise nothing in the US Constitution requires forswearing a republican form of limited government to embrace the totalitarian theocracy known as Sharia law, nor to invite to our shores those whose religion requires they embrace Sharia law. In the same way that immigration policy may lawfully exclude polygamists, anarchists, or communists, so too may partisans of Sharia Law be excluded, and the fact that this partisanship is part and parcel of a religious faith does not somehow grant it immunity to prudential judgment which warns us not to invite enemies to our way of life within our community, and allow them veto over our way of life.

What is happening in Europe, and what the Left in America seeks to have happen here, is not aid to refugees, but the welcoming of a mass migration of partisans of an alien and hostile religion whose despotic principles are incompatible with any Christian, or Constitutional, limited form of government. The use of mass migration as a tool of warfare can have no scintilla of support by any honest man, Christian or otherwise.

Proposals of amnesty for illegal aliens are an open borders policy, that is, a policy that enforces no rule against trespass by uninvited foreigners.  

In the current circumstance, while we are at war with Islam, a no borders policy is akin to rendering aid and comfort to the enemy, for it invites enemy combatants over the border mingled and hidden among others crossing the border.

Point two: Christian teaching does not overthrow secular authority in secular matters.

An imperative to protect a stranger with the same laws as protect you means simply that the pagan custom of regarding foreigners as lawful prey to theft and murder is forbidden. If a stranger, refugee or guest is arrested, he has a right to a fair trial before incarceration or execution. (What rights, if any, he has before deportation is a matter of prudential judgment, for deportation is not a criminal penalty).

An imperative to render justice to a stranger does not mean that the child of a stranger from a foreign hemisphere has the same right to inherit your land as your own children. It does not mean a refugee be granted permanent residence, nor be given a vote and made one of the community. The laws must protect the stranger’s rights to life, liberty and property. But his rights are not those of your children. He has no civil rights, as he is not a member of the civic society.

But an imperative to render justice to a stranger also means that a refugee in sincere need cannot simply be pitched back into the sea or sent back into slavery like Elian Gonzales.

So, then: justice to strangers neither requires an open boarders policy nor allows that all gates be shut to those in need nor all ears to pity. The proper Christian teaching falls between these extremes. This question will be addressed in future columns under two general headings: trespassers and refugees on the one hand, and immigrants seeking citizenship on the other.