Contra Trump or, Am I My Brother’s Keeper?


11223477_1451611278481353_4485094499263895302_nThe current GOP frontrunner – you know, even though we’re over a year away from the presidential election – Donald Trump has stated some pretty horrible things about immigrants (legal or otherwise). Donald Trump has un-ironically called the United States a “dumping ground” for the rest of the world (forgetting the fact that every single white person in the United States descends from an immigrant). What’s quite worrisome, however, is that evangelical Christians – the largest group of Christians in the United States and a substantial part of the GOP voting bloc – happen to love Donald Trump. His famous interaction with Jorge Ramos notwithstanding, Trump’s aide was quick to tell Mr. Ramos to “Get out of my country,” even though Mr. Ramos is a US citizen. White nationalists view Trump as a step in the right direction and some even support his views on both legal and illegal immigration. There are also reports of Trump supporters inciting violence against Latinos. The point is, Donald Trump hates immigrants (both legal and illegal), his supporters are becoming violent with immigrants (especially Latinos), and somehow this guy gets the support of the evangelical Christian group.

In light of such support, I think that it is time we announce the death of something that was never alive; American Christianity. That isn’t to say that America, at one time, held to an idea of Christianity and to a culture of Christianity, but there’s never really been a “Christian America” that so many desire. Of course, at this moment, there most certainly is not a “Christian America.” Rather than a nation of those willing to follow Christ’s teachings, we are instead a nation of Cain’s, constantly asking if we are our brother’s keeper, or saying that our brother isn’t actually our brother.

We slew Native Americans without a second thought, we chased out many Latinos who had settled in the old territory of Mexico (modern day Southwestern US), and we enslaved millions of Africans. We beat and brutalized freed slaves, refused them rights, refused them respect, and looked upon them with disdain and unwarranted hatred. Along the way God called down to the Christians who participated and encouraged such acts, but they responded with, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” while the blood of their brethren cried out to God for justice.

In the modern age we see the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of former slaves kept in poverty, under the constant brutal treatment by police, and we blame “them” for such a situation. Not once have evangelicals, as a whole, truly offered to help. When a prominent Reformed evangelical can make the argument that slavery wasn’t all that bad while co-writing the paper with a member of the League of the South (a quasi-white nationalist group; quasi in the sense that their stance can be summarized as, “We don’t hate anyone who isn’t white, we just think they should act like us and follow our rules”) and is still praised by almost every Reformed evangelical out there (including John Piper), it’s easy to see there’s a problem.

And now we have a candidate who spews open animosity towards immigrants, specifically Latinos, and white evangelicals are quick to jump on board with such hatred. Such views do not function within Christian beliefs. In fact, there isn’t a form of nationalism in existence that can properly coincide with true Christianity (looking at you “Britain First”) because Christianity, by its very existence, is sans-national and multi-ethnic. There is no such thing as a Christian nation, a Christian culture, or even a Christian identity. There are creeds, beliefs, faiths, liturgies, but while all are unified in one belief, they are distinct in their existential nature.

True Christianity is by its nature diverse. After all, central to the Christian belief – so central that to remove it removes any semblance of Christianity – is the Trinity. The belief that God is one in essence, but three persons creates a religion that is founded in a paradox where both unity and diversity are needed in equal measure. The modern evangelical calls for a monolithic state, a state with one religion, one language, one culture, and ultimately one race (the implicit desire in these Trump rallies, though never explicitly stated and always openly denied). Such an evangelical is properly called an evangelical – for they’re evangelists for a nationalistic and modernistic cause – but are improperly called evangelical Christians, for their message represents nothing within Christianity. A Christianity that doesn’t allow for and appreciate diversity isn’t properly Christian.

Thus, here we are again today looking at brothers who are bruised and battered. They want to come to the United States for refuge, for jobs, for an opportunity their children can’t have. While the United States is declining and certainly full of many errors, it is still a better place than many of the places these people are leaving. We have the capacity to help them, especially if we unify and appreciate the diversity. We have the resources to help, so long as we take the drastic and necessary steps to promote economic justice. But we see our jobs sent overseas by rich billionaires (such as Trump) and make the non sequitur conclusion that immigrants are at fault for our job loss. We then take away their rights, we dehumanize them, we beat them and leave them on the streets. And so their blood cries out to God again as it is spilt on the ground, and we coldly and with narcissistic bitterness ask, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Advertisements

Immigration, Executive Orders, and the Christian Message: Another One Matt Walsh Gets Wrong


IMG_0547At this point I feel like I could make a living off writing against Matt Walsh. I’ve yet to come across anything he’s written where I can sit there and go, “This post was substantial, informative, and something I can mostly agree with.” Instead, reading a Matt Walsh post is a lot like trying to chug cheap whiskey; it’s a bad idea and you’re going to regret it. Walsh is the Kardashians of the conservative movement. No one really knows how someone who has done literally nothing became so popular and annoying, there’s just no explanation for either the Kardashians or Walsh. And yet, he persists. His latest ramblings on immigration reform attack President Obama’s executive order as well as the idea of immigration reform, all the while Walsh is proving that he’s not really pro-family, unless your family happens to be American.

First and foremost, someone should alert Walsh to the fact that if you’re going to refer to someone using the poetic apostrophe “O” that it’s spelled “O,” not “oh.” “Oh” is an emotive interjection, such as, “Oh, I was just thinking…” If I want to address someone, I’d say, “O Holiness.” A minor note, but one worth noting. I know of the above because I used to make the same mistake. Thankfully, my English teacher in the tenth grade corrected me.

The biggest complaint that Walsh has with Obama is the use of an executive order. Cutting through all the wording, Walsh’s argument boils down to this: “Obama bypassed Congress and in so doing created the law by fiat, which makes him a tyrant.” I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m not too keen on executive orders. There’s a reason that up until the late 19th century, they were used quite sparingly. Regardless, the last president to have less than 100 executive orders within his term(s) was Chester Arthur (who?), back in 1885. In other words, for 129 years every president has issued at least 100 executive orders. In that timespan, there have only been four presidents who issued less executive orders than Obama (who, to be fair, is halfway into his second term, so that number could go up). Regardless, as far as precedence goes, Obama is pretty low on executive orders. Nixon, Carter, Reagan, and Clinton all sat above 300 executive orders.

Again, while I’m not a fan of executive orders, they’ve been common place for 129 years, they do allow clarification on the role of the executive office in executing a law. Since George Washington – who issued eight executive orders – they’ve been used to explain the internal functions of how any given law ought to be enforced. They give the parameters and to what extent the law will be executed. The very first executive order was issued by Washington declaring that all US citizens had to stay out of the conflict involving England and France; what makes it more amazing is that Washington did this without interpreting any present laws, but rather created the decree because Congress was out of session. In other words, our very first President essentially created a law by fiat and hardly anyone batted an eye at the time. Lincoln suspended habeas corpus without Congress in session in 1861 and Congress didn’t back him until 1863. And let’s not forget possibly the most famous executive order ever issued, the Emancipation Proclamation.

There are multiple examples of presidents, many of whom are considered great presidents, using their executive power to decree laws without Congress in session. In fact, the last few presidents have all issued executive orders dealing with immigration reform. Thus, Obama doing the same – while not necessarily a good thing – isn’t out of line or odd. If it were then Republicans could easily defund the executive order to challenge it in court (as all executive orders can be subjected to judicial review). Republicans already did this with the famous “birth control” executive order. They could attempt it with the order on illegal immigration, but there’s not a lot in the Constitution to show how the executive order is wrong. Thus, contra Walsh, Obama didn’t do anything tyrannical, nor did he break the law, nor did he really do anything wrong from a legal standpointContinue reading

Should a President Violate the Constitution?


Yesterday President Obama hit the hornets’ nest as far as illegal immigration is concerned. He announced that for illegal immigrants under the age of 30 who entered our nation before they were 16 years old (generally by a parent or adult) would not be threatened with deportation. How can the President single-handedly pass laws and forgo the legislative branch? Well, he can’t, but being the executive branch he can choose not to act on certain laws. Thus, the law hasn’t changed, but the enforcement of the law has changed. While people want to act as though Mr. Obama is ruining our Constitution by doing this, the reality is this has happened quite a few times in our nation’s history (it happens most-often when a president involves us in a police action without consulting Congressional support for a declaration of war). Regardless, the frequency of when it happens or even if this is the first time in United States history that a president has so boldly forgone another branch of government (those of Cherokee ancestry are currently thinking of another time when this happened) is quite irrelevant; what matters is if Mr. Obama is right or wrong in his action.

I must state emphatically that the Constitution divided the branches of government for a reason, thus it is best to follow those branches in almost every situation. The aforementioned link to Andrew Jackson and his usurping of the Supreme Court is a perfect example of why the branches ought to respect each other’s authority. But what about when the branches are wrong? What about when both Congress and the Supreme Court rule that slavery or segregation are ruled as okay within the parameters of the law? Wouldn’t we argue that the Executive branch has a moral obligation to the citizens of the nation to find some way to usurp the two other branches? I would argue that when neither branch will support what is naturally right, the third branch always has the obligation to do all it can to usurp the other two branches so that what is naturally right is recognized.

Now again, I haven’t made a case for what Mr. Obama did (yet), so before jumping ahead to leave a comment it’s best to keep reading – this post is more about Natural Law vs. the Constitution than it is about what the President said (although what he said provides a great backdrop).

Some might argue that if we hold Natural Law above the Constitution then the point of a Constitution is nullified. If any judge, president, or congressional body deems a law wrong and can simply act against it, then why divide the powers? The reason, however, is that the Constitution is itself already an outpouring of Natural Law, so when the application of the Constitution comes into conflict with Natural Law, one is not acting against the Constitution per se. The Constitution is constructed in a way that most applications of the document are consistent with the document. However, when the intent of the Constitution is violated then those sworn to protect the integrity of the Constitution have the duty to uphold it, even if that means they are unfaithful in other aspects (i.e. if two branches decide to outlaw Islam, then the other branch has the obligation to usurp the other two branches; to be faithful to the intent of the Constitution, which is to prevent tyranny, the Constitution must be breached).

In other matters we have no problem with people acting against the Constitution. For instance, what if tomorrow Congress decided to detain anyone who looked like an Arab in the name of national security? What if after many challenges the Supreme Court ruled that this law was fitting with the Constitution because it’s “reasonable” considering the security threat? Would the power of the Constitution – a document made by man – trump the moral law of God? All except legal positivists and the strictest of deontologists would argue that the Executive branch (the President) would have the moral obligation to not enforce the law.

Thus, there are cases where the President is not only justified in violating the Constitution and the separation of powers, but is under a moral obligation to do so. The question presented to us now is whether or not Mr. Obama found himself in that situation when he made his declaration.

Make no mistake, I absolutely support President’s goal. For all his failures – enough to prevent me from voting for him (and no, I’m not voting for Romney either) – I really do support many of his attempts at immigration reform, though I find them incomplete. I think this latest attempt ultimately has good goals. The fact is that those brought into this nation when they’re not of a legal age of consent, are raised as Americans, contribute to our society, and consider this place their home have no reason to be deported. Though they lack a piece of paper saying they’re citizens they’re citizens in the realist sense of the word. That they were brought here against their will shouldn’t relegate them to moving to what is, for all intents and purposes, a foreign land.

Wherever one stands on the immigration debate, one must admit that moral culpability plays a major part in whether or not one is punished for a crime. If a five-year-old is forced to steal from a vendor because an adult tricked him into it, then five-year-old isn’t held accountable. While there are typically some punishments when one unwittingly commits a crime, or is forced into a situation where a crime is committed, the full force of the law is typically withheld. In the case of someone brought into this country at a young age (below 16) who are subsequently raised in our communities, our schools, learn our language, and essentially become American, how is it that we’re to punish them for a crime they aren’t morally accountable for? In other words, the current law on the books is wrong and needs to be changed because it’s depriving people who are practically citizens from their rights; a better law would be that at the age of 18 they’re granted a permanent visa and can apply for citizenship.

The problem with the above is that our Legislative branch never got the chance to take this issue up. Now, most certainly it would have died in the Republican-controlled House, especially during an election year when the base has to be pandered to. Likewise, there’s not much the Supreme Court could do to fix the situation. Thus, it would be up to Mr. Obama to fix this situation (as this is a human-rights violation and not something petty). Some might point out that the DREAM Act was killed in Congress, but this was an entire act that had some problems with it; a standalone aspect of the bill could have been reintroduced to Congress.

The second problem with what Mr. Obama has done is with the timing of this act. Even if the DREAM Act shows that Congress wouldn’t work to fix a law that is seriously flawed, Mr. Obama only chose to implement this policy when it came to light that this election would be tight and that the Hispanic vote would play a vital role. In other words, he didn’t do this because he has a deep-seated belief that these young immigrants have a natural right to stay in a nation they have made their own, nor did he do this because he believes that God calls us to be kind to our neighbors; rather he did this because he really wants to win the election and Hispanics are the current pawns he needs in order to win.

If one is to violate the Constitution, then one must do so from deeply held moral beliefs; a president, judge, or congressperson who violate the Constitution must be willing to lose their job or go to jail for their belief. The conviction in what is good and right must be that strong; it can’t be done simply to win a political game.  If it’s just for a game and not real moral reasons then what promise do Hispanics hold for after the election when they’re no longer needed? If one’s moral ambition cannot extend beyond one’s political ambition, then one is stuck following the Constitution. The reality is, Mr. Obama should have done this long ago knowing full-well that he could be impeached for such actions. Yet, he should have looked at the consequences and simply not cared, believing that what is right is far more important than any political office; but that’s just not what happened.

Thus, Mr. Obama could have been justified in what he did, but he’s not. The ends are justifiable because they seek to correct a major flaw in our immigration law. The means, however, are horrid and negate the ends. He should have sought Congressional approval first (even though it would have been an exercise in futility, at least he would be giving them a chance). Likewise, he should have done this last year or the year before, not now that it’s become apparent he desperately needs the Hispanic vote in order to win. That is what it means to be a principled president. While we need presidents who are practical, we need those who are practical with their principles and have a budging point, a point where they’re willing to be forced out of office rather than violate what is right.

Christianity and Illegal Immigration


In looking at the continuing immigration debate in the United States, I think that Christians are, in some ways, put in a difficult situation. Christians have the moral obligation handed down by Christ to take care of the poor and no stipulations were given on whether or not “poor” is to include legal or illegal immigrants. The parable of the Good Samaritan shows that all humans are our neighbors. Thus, in the economy of God, whether or not one has the legal status of a certain country is irrelevant when considering if that someone is a neighbor.

At the same time, an open border policy can actually hurt illegal immigrants currently in the US. It can lower wages, increase crime, and eradicate all the reasons they came here. So Christians are left with a contradiction – support those who come here to make a better life for themselves while at the same time supporting tighter border security.

Why Christians should be for tighter border security

The job of a government is to protect its citizens. As Christians, we should support the government in doing what God has established it to do. When the government fails in its God-given duty, we should hold the government accountable.

A loose border with Mexico has caused an increase of crime via drug smugglers. They have brought their violence over into the US. This means an innocent family trying to come to the US for a better life can be sold into slavery or worse, murdered, by the drug cartel along the border. By supporting an open border or a loose border, or by not doing anything to fix the current situation, the dignity of human life is significantly devalued.

When a Christian calls for stricter enforcement on the border, however, it should not be because we want to protect our jobs or we fear that whites will somehow be “bred” out. Rather, it should be because we see the violence that a loose border is causing and how this is actually hurting innocent immigrants who merely want a better life for their family.

The second reason Christians should desire tighter border security is to prevent some illegal immigrants from being an economic burden. When some come over here to take advantage of welfare or Medicare, but don’t pay taxes, this creates pressure on the economy that simply cannot be supported. Likewise, since they’re not paying taxes, it’s not fair that they get these services while some US citizens, who struggle to get by, wouldn’t necessarily qualify for these services.

Third, by tightening up security on the border, it prevents illegal immigration. I am not against illegal immigration as inherently evil, but rather that it’s extremely unfair for someone to skip the fees that another had to pay. It’s not fair that one person struggled for ten years to become a citizen, paid money, went through the legal process, faced the stress of dealing with all the issues of becoming a citizen while another person simply crosses the border and pays nothing.

Fourth, for whatever reason many illegal immigrants have formed an absolute hatred for the United States and this has spilled over into US citizens with a Hispanic background. One merely needs to look at how wearing the American flag on Cinco de Mayo (not even a widely celebrated holiday in Mexico) was viewed as extremely offensive to a group of students in San Francisco. Why though? As Christians, we should encourage citizens to support their government (so long as what the government is doing is ethical) and not hold an attitude of disdain toward the nation itself. The reason for this is that disdain for the nation will always lead to armed struggles, which again devalues life.

For the above reasons, I highly believe that Christians should support tighter border security and desire to see a decrease in illegal immigration.

Continue reading

Glenn Beck on Illegal Immigration


I very rarely watch political talk shows because they’re generally worthless. It’s people attempting to deal with complex matters in about 3 minutes, which often leads to destructive commentary that accomplishes nothing. As Jon Stewart said on Crossfire, these types of shows are hurting America. 

However, I will sometimes catch a few of these talking heads while flipping through the channels. One that has caught my attention is Glenn Beck. Though I do not watch him regularly, he does bring up good points (and bad points), but attempts to do so in a civil manner.

Continue reading