Earlier this week, John Zmirak and Kelly Kullberg published an article on The Stream in which they claimed to present “9 Things Jesus Might Do About Immigration.” A friend of mine sent me the article and asked for my thoughts, so here is a point by point response to each of the ridiculous claims made in that article:
"1. Stand and Lead - Jesus wouldn’t teach people to run from their homelands. He would empower them to stand their ground, to lead, and to overcome challenges with creative love."
This is totally preposterous. The authors don't even attempt to provide scriptural support for this claim, because there isn't any. In fact, the Bible frequently records the opposite.
Abraham was told to leave his homeland of Ur (Gen 12:1). David fled to Gath to avoid capture by Saul (I Sam 27:4). Jeroboam fled to Egypt until he could return to claim the Northern tribes as God had promised (I Kings 11:40). God told Elijah to leave Israel and go to Zarephath (I Kings 17:9). Elisha told the Shunammite woman to leave Israel during the famine (II Kings 8:1-2). God told Joseph to take Jesus into Egypt until after the death of Herod (Matt 2:13). Many of the first Christians travelled to Phenice, Cyprus, and Antioch to flee persecution (Acts 11:19). Paul fled from Damascus to avoid arrest (I Cor 11:32-33).
The Bible is literally filled with examples of godly people leaving instead of standing their ground, leading, and overcoming challenges with "creative love" (whatever that is).
"2. Clean Up Crime - Because He loves people, Jesus would oppose the crime and corruption that harms them ... Non-citizens account for a much larger share of convictions than their 8.4 percent share of the adult population."
I'm not really sure what the authors are trying to claim in this section. They seem to be saying that Jesus would stop immigrants from coming to America because immigrants commit more crimes than citizens, but their argument is so poorly constructed that I'm not sure if I understand it correctly. Regardless of the point that they are trying to make, however, the statistics that they present are so cherry picked that they may as well have just made them up.
For example, they claim that immigrants account for "42.4 percent of kidnapping convictions," but they don't mention that the source of their data only recorded 290 convictions for kidnapping over a 7 year period. This is important to know, because there are actually an average of 115 kidnappings per year in the United States which means that there were about 800 kidnappings over the course of the 7 years that the authors referenced. If there were about 800 kidnappings during that time, why did their source only mention 290 of them?
The answer can be found in the fact that the source for these statistics is the Sentencing Commission Data on FEDERAL Convictions. The vast majority of crimes committed in the U.S. are actually tried at the state level and not at the federal level. Thus, the statistics derived from data on federal convictions are a very poor representation of criminal activity in America.
You can see for yourself just how poor that representation is by going to the actual report that the authors cited and looking at the line for "Burglary/breaking and entering." According to the same study which the authors cited, 100% of all burglary convictions between 2011 and 2016 were for U.S. citizens. The report did not find a single instance in which an immigrant was convicted for burglary.
Does that mean that no immigrants were convicted of burglary anywhere in the U.S. during that 7 year period? No. Not at all. It just means that all of the FEDERAL level convictions for burglary were cases involving citizens.
There were only 227 federal convictions for burglary during this time period which is an almost infinitesimally small percentage (0.001%) of the 17.5 million burglaries that occurred in America between 2011 and 2016. To claim that this report on 227 burglaries is an accurate representation of the number of burglaries committed by immigrants each year would be ludicrous at best, and the same can be said for each of the statistics that the authors listed in this section of their article.
By the way, if you’d like to see some more realistic statistics on the crime rate among immigrants, you can check out this well written article from FactCheck.org.
“3. Affirm Compassion and Fairness - Jesus would likely laud America as the most generous nation on earth.”
The authors didn’t mention any verses that support this claim, so I’ll just provide one for them:
"For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise." (2 Cor. 10:12)
"4. Take the Whole Counsel of Scripture - Jesus would not cherry-pick Bible verses as the Pharisees did. He would reason from the whole counsel of Scripture which is the highest love for human beings, and highest good for cultures. And the Bible does not teach open borders, but wise welcome."
The authors actually attempt to provide some biblical support for their view under this point, but that attempt is so pitiful that it’s hilarious. They claim that the Hebrew Bible makes a distinction between legal and illegal immigrants by using the word “ger” for the first and “nekhar” for the second category. They then present Ruth as an example of a “ger” ie: a legal immigrant. The authors obviously did not expect anyone to check their claims because the Bible never once uses the Hebrew word “ger” in association with Ruth. The word that the Bible uses for Ruth’s immigrant status is the word “nekhar” (Ruth 2:10) which the authors claim is actually the word for an illegal immigrant. Thus, by the author’s own reasoning, Ruth was an illegal immigrant whose decision to come to Israel was honored by God and accepted by the Jews.
Of course, Ruth wasn’t an illegal immigrant. Israel did not have any laws prohibiting aliens from crossing their borders. What the authors should have learned from the use of “nekhar” in reference to Ruth is that the term “nekhar” does NOT refer to illegal immigrants like they claim.
You can find a better explanation of the distinction between the terms “ger” and “nekhar” in my article: “Thou Shalt not Oppress the Stranger: A Review of The Immigration Crisis by James Hoffmeier.”
Point 5 (“See Through Dirty Politics”) and Point 6 (“Call out the Sadducees”) are both non-sequiturs. Yes, Jesus would see through dirty politics, and yes, Jesus would call out the “Sadducees,” but we can’t draw any conclusions about immigration from those two facts. To do so, the authors would have had to introduce another claim, ie: that ALL those who advocate for lax immigration policies are dirty politicians and “Sadducees.” Of course, it would be foolish for them to make that kind of claim, so they just left it unsaid expecting their readers to make that assumption for them. It’s a very poor excuse for reasoning and not at all Christ-like.
"7. Render Unto Caesar - If Jews were to honor Roman laws they had no part in making, how can Christians today urge us to break our own democratically-enacted laws?"
This is a perfect example of the debate tactic known as attacking a straw man. The authors presented their article as an argument against those who want to CHANGE our immigration laws to allow more immigrants into our nation. At this point, however, the authors are attacking someone who wants to BREAK our immigration laws. Their argument here does not even come close to addressing the issue that they are supposed to be addressing.
“8. Tell Us to Love Our Actual Neighbors”
The bias evident in this point is so blatant that it shouldn’t need to be pointed out, but I’ll point it out anyway. By saying that our fellow American citizens are our “actual” neighbors, the authors are directly implying that non-citizens (including those who are here legally) are NOT our neighbors at all. The opposite of actual would be fabled, imaginary, fake, etc. Thus, if our fellow citizens are our actual neighbors, then the non-citizens among us must be fake neighbors. And since they are nor really our neighbors, they must not be included in the command to love our neighbors, right? Wrong. There was a reason that Jesus chose to use a Samaritan and not a Jew as the example to be followed in the famous parable.
“9. Preach to All Nations - In Genesis 11, we see that Babel was a kind of ‘one world’ hierarchy with a super-elite using a servant class to 'make a name for ourselves.'”
This is so ridiculous it’s actually funny. There is nothing in the Bible about Babel having a hierarchy of super-elites who forced their slaves to build the tower for them. That’s pure fantasy that the authors probably included because the biblical account wasn’t heinous enough to fit their narrative.
The authors used this fantastical description of Babel to claim that God is opposed to a “global monoculture,” but that is another example of a straw man. The claim that the authors are arguing against is not that we should have a one world government but rather that we should allow more people to immigrate to our country and to benefit from being under our government. I don’t know of anyone of significance who is arguing for a one world government. That’s just a straw man that the authors are attacking because it’s easier to defeat than their real opponent.
The authors concluded their article with a repetition of their strong bias against all immigrants by exhorting us to “honor both neighbors and those who come lawfully as blessings.” This idea that only citizens can be our neighbors is nothing less than heresy. These authors have taken the commandment to love our neighbors, and they have twisted it to exclude those people that they do not want to love. The depravity of such a statement is beyond astounding, and it should be met with the same disgust and revulsion as the pile of dung that it is.
Bill Fortenberry is a Christian philosopher and historian in Birmingham, AL. Bill's work has been cited in several legal journals, and he has appeared as a guest on shows including The Dr. Gina Show, The Michael Hart Show, and Real Science Radio.
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