Monday, July 18, 2022

As an American Christian, what are my moral obligations regarding refugees?

Mrs ERJ and I had an opportunity to talk with a clergyman about the tsunami of refugees.

He seemed to be fairly in-tune with wheat and corn prices and rising interest rates and what that would do to El Salvador/Guatemala/Honduras and arrivals at the US southern border.

He also seemed to have his head screwed on straight (in my humble opinion) regarding the virtues of having economically-pressured peoples stay in their home-countries and the many virtues of keeping them plugged into their personal social networks.

As often happens, I was surprised when the conversation went off-the-rails and I was not quick enough to access Scriptural passages to add perspective to my viewpoints.

What shook me was that we were mostly in agreement until...the economically stressed people started violating international law. In his opinion, that automatically made them refugees (sojourners) and we had a Biblical obligation to catch them as they swooned.

Biblical passages that support his viewpoint can be found starting Matt 25:31 (Whatever you do for the least of your brothers you do for me) and James 2:14 (Faith without works is dead).

The moral tension occurs when we consider the text starting Matt 5:21 which is a series of vignettes with the meta-message that as Christians we are morally accountable for natural-and-logical consequences of our actions (and non-actions) even if they are not, strictly speaking, against Biblical laws. This applies to refugees because many kind-hearted Christians create an enormous moral-hazard whereby they create economic temptation to pay a coyote to pack them into the back of a semi and then to violate civil laws.

These same moral-hazards are created by jawboning about illegal alien amnesty and student debt forgiveness. All three of these "kind" actions lead rational people into temptation.

There is also some text starting in 1 Peter 2:11 which instructs Christians to obey civil authorities. This string of instructions is besmirched (in the minds of many modern readers) because it seems to validate the institution of slavery whereas a more careful reading suggests it instructs the Christian on how to be a virtuous person even when one is a slave.

There are undoubtedly many other Bible quotes that apply to this issue but these four quotes seem to do a fine job as stakes stretching out the bottom of the tent.

After pondering our conversation with the clergyman, perhaps the thing that is most troublesome is that he flipped like a light-switch from "Yes, we must do everything we can that is morally acceptable (as instructed by the Bible and using the brain God gave us) to help our fellow man" to "Except when they decide to leave their homes and then two-wrongs-make-a-right."

Perhaps there was some subtle nuance of language that changed his meaning from how I heard it. If so, I totally missed it.

The viewpoint that "Two wrongs can make a right" is very shaky moral ground upon which to tread.


  1. I would like to see Bayou Renaissance Man comment on this. --ken

    1. I am interested in his thoughts, too. I will link to it if he posts something on his blog.

      I am not holding my breath. He never seems to be at a loss of things to write about.

  2. Rolf Nelson's "Heretics of St Possenti" talks about this at some length. In essence, it is immoral to damage our own environment to help others. The Good Samaritan paid for the injured traveler to stay at an inn and be treated, he did NOT bring them home to invade his house and damage his property.

  3. Rick has it right. When someone tells me it is the Christian thing to do I ask him how many refugees he is putting up in his own house and feeding with his own money. Or if he thinks stealing from others by taxation, job and community loss to give it to the refugees makes him a better Christian.--ken

  4. Christians are supposed to express charity but that doesn't mean we allow foreign people(s) to mix with us, buy land within our lands, and otherwise violate the sovereignty of our borders and laws. They aren't knocking on the front door and asking for help, they are marching right on in as if they are entitled to our lands and everything we as a nation have built for OUR OWN PEOPLE. They are not content with a "refugee city", or an island, a safe place, or their neighboring countries (hint, they aren't really refugees.)

    Helping them within their own countries is perfectly acceptable to me, as long as it's private charity and not from the public purse. I want to say it would be fine from the public purse as well, but even if our representatives were exemplary Christians, human nature kicks in and we would end up with the corruption we have today. There is a smart way to be charitable and then there is inviting destruction.

    We have no duty to help people illegally crossing our borders beyond putting them on a plane back to their own country and telling them to use proper channels. The moment these people illegally cross our borders, they become criminals and INVADERS. You get more of what you tolerate.

    Back in the day, a nation's borders were where its people lived and if another people decided to walk into your lands and proceed to build homes, farms, and squeeze out families, then it becomes their land as their people are the majority on it. War in those days were against the entire people, the women and kids too.

    Texas has become Mexico De Norte and I'm planning on getting out because my people are no longer here. Me and mine will hold onto the deeds to the family farm as those are our claims to the land and it may yet be in my lifetime that We the People form an armed resistance to the southern invasion.

    - Arc

  5. It sounds a lot like the clergyman has had a briefing. When international law is being flouted (and the flouting abetted), the cynical side of me wonders at the convenience that the scriptures can provide moral justification and supporting guidance to a charity intent on supporting the people that violate these laws.

    I wonder: What do the scriptures say about the organizations supporting the trekkers north from their home countries with logistical coordination, food, transportation, medical attention, pre-paid credit cards, burner phones, legal services, etc - to the people that are on their way to violate those international laws? Many of these organizations are church-based. Does the clergyman got any supporting scriptures for that too?

  6. I don't think the clergyman is a bad person. I think he fell into some logical errors.

    He automatically turned a person (the refugee) into a thing like a puppy. As a "thing", the person was stripped of agency, personality, unique needs and abilities, the ability to make rational decisions and so on. It was undoubtedly due to constant conditioning to think this way.

    Rather than turn a quarter-million illegals a month into "things", perhaps he should bend his influence toward fixing our broken immigration laws.

    Illegals pay coyotes $5k because it costs $10k and two years to immigrate legally from Central America.

    1. The number of years depends upon the country of origin, the annual quota given to each country, and the number of people from that country in the queue. When I took an immigration law class in law school, I think the wait for Mexico was on the order of 10 years.

  7. When you ask a pastor a question, if he doesn't take you to the Bible to see what it says, he's not doing his job. Romans 13 is pretty clear about the law of the land. As a pastor, we looked into the Bible to see what it said about current events. And it's usually very plain if you spend any time in study. It is sad to see how many pastors don't study and are Biblically ignorant.

  8. A thought: typical liberal thinking...only trying to correct the immediate problem (influx of refugees) and not trying to correct the reason "they" are in our country.

  9. I had this conversation with a very Christian grandmother (not one of mine) who told me it was her Christian duty to support the immigrants. I suggested that it might be more Christian if she used her Social Security instead of mine.

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  11. Another non sequiteur?

    One thing I’ve noticed (come to realise after decades of bemused, often angry, consideration) is that everything ‘the left’ does, says, wants, demands, can be reduced, to one extent or another, to NIMBYism.

    The apparent (real) double standards, contradictions and blatant hypocrisy they exhibit can be explained by assuming that … they aren’t actually ever really against any of the things they claim to be. They’re only against them happening here, to them. (Be it coal-fired power-plants in China/India, shipping their refuse to China/India to be … dumped, children/slaves digging/making the ‘clean/green’ products they clamour for, …. all is not only acceptable, but a required necessity. Just not near them, or where they go on vacation).

    Look at any aspect of their beliefs, any shibboleth, and … in every case they are only against it ‘here’, whilst actively supporting the exact same thing happening ‘somewhere far away’.

    ‘That’ to me is the very definition evil. To claim, demand all the benefits, protections, privileges and products that only western, capitalist, Christian societies produce, but to ‘require’ that any costs are always born/suffered by someone else (preferably some ‘brown-skinned' types far away, but if it’s that annoying neighbour who works 80+ hours a week and wont see it’s only fair you get to benefit from his hard work, so be it).

    So? As many here have already pointed out, Your Pastor would sing a very different tune if he ‘personally’ had to fund and provide the support he’s demanding ‘we’ (meaning everyone but him) should provide.

    The difference between charity and welfare is both the choice, and the personal cost consciously, deliberately, intentionally born by the giver. One signals virtue, the other … corruption (in more than one sense of the word).

    Oh, and as someone who spent >30 years fighting in every cess-pit, failed-state, country in the world … they aren’t even vaguely (by any definition) “refugees”. I’ve seen reality, the battered, broken, abused women/children/elderly, destitute, seeking any safe (or reputedly/possibly/maybe) harbour, walking unsupported, attacked from all sides … People who, living comfortably, enabled, facilitated, financed, supported and encouraged by their own countries governments to travel (fly/drive or in provided transport) to whichever western nation provides the most welfare/freebies are ‘not’ (in any sense of the word) refugees or even immigrants. To claim otherwise is … sophistry, and worse, sophistry in the service of what they will be well aware is … evil.

    The ‘error’ you made (forgive the presumption) is that you allowed him to define them as something you (and he) ‘know’ they are not. Any debate following that was fatally flawed (and intentionally so on his part I suspect, because debating openly would have revealed … see above).

    [Why do I suspect a comfortable middle-class upbringing, parental funded university and ‘being placed’ in a ‘nice’ rural Christian area has ill prepared him for the real world. A short term ‘ministry’ in one of those places he so obviously ‘deifies’ would do wonders for his faith, and relive his parishioners from the uninformed leftist dogma he currently pretends to believe].

  12. So if it becomes one's Christian duty to take in these "refugees" (and not one's personal responsibility to provide for them, instead of the authorities), what duty does one owe one's fellow citizens who do not want these "refugees" in their country and do not want to provide for them directly or indirectly?

    Doesn't seem very Christian to antagonize and burden one's neighbors.

  13. There is an interesting parallel here with the whole foreign missions industry. People will travel to all corners of the globe on "mission trips" while there is ample opportunity for ministry in the nearest large city. I assume saying I went to Kenya sounds cooler on social media than I went to Detroit.

  14. My OED definition is that Sojourner means traveler not refugee.
    "A temporary resident" Vol XV page 945.
    The admonition was concerning how you treat them when they are passing through. The redefinition of words is the most common tool used in the destruction of the West.
    Stop it.


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