Does U.S. Immigration Debate Have Room For Religious Ethics?

Scriptures from the Bible were exchanged to shed light on religious ethics at a congressional hearing in Washington, as lawmakers and religious leaders debated whether there is an ethical need to reform immigration laws.

Richard Land, President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, argued that a policy overhaul is necessary, and that a comprehensive immigration package with a guest-worker program can help solve the issue.  He cited biblical passages from the books of Matthew, Leviticus and Micah, in crusading religious ethics and the government’s need to take action on the growing number of illegal immigrants in the US.  Southern Baptists believe in upholding the law, he said, but they “also recognize a biblical mandate to care ‘for the least of these among us’ (Matthew 25:34-40), to care for the ‘strangers’ who reside in our lands (Leviticus 19:34), and to act justly and mercifully (Micah 6:8).”

The opposition, led by Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, didn’t come to the hearing without his Bible passages either.  It seemed immigration politics required they come with their own.  In calling for enhanced border security and strict enforcing of existing federal immigration laws, Smith quoted Romans 13:17, “Let every person be subject to governing authorities.”   “For those who say that it is immoral or unethical to enforce our nation’s laws, there is [but] one problem: the Bible contains numerous passages that support the rule of law.”

Q:

There are approximately 11 million illegal immigrants in the US, but is America morally and spiritually obliged to help them?  Should we allow our decisions to be guided by religious ethics, our moral compass?  Are there times when it is just to break the law, such as smuggling Bibles into a country or holding Bible Studies or Church meetings in countries where it is illegal to do so?  Tell us your thoughts!

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