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Letter: Look to Bible on immigration policies

The Rev. Jim Krapf, Worthington

Responsibilities for and of aliens are expressed throughout the Bible. One such passage, Deuteronomy 31:12, reads: “Assemble the people — men, women, and children, and the aliens living in your towns — so they can listen and learn to fear the Lord your God and follow carefully all the words of this law.” This situation indicates that foreigners knew the Hebrew language so that could understand the law by which Israelites lived. If biblical directives have implications for us, it would mean that the immigrant neighbors among us would learn English and abide by and be protected by our laws.

We can draw three other implications from the Bible.

The first is that central to the law is the command to love God and to love neighbor. (Matthew 22:37-40) Repeatedly the Bible proclaims through the prophets and through Jesus Christ that hospitality to the stranger is a virtue. The expectation is that the hosts will be open-handed and the guests will not abuse their welcome. Today we struggle to find the best ways to be both compassionate and fair in terms of social services, taxation, economics, family unification, etc.

The second is that God’s law was given to the Israelites so that their obedience would offer the world a concrete example of what a life pleasing to God would look like. When our attitude toward and treatment of one another demonstrate God’s will, Worthington offers a model for others. At our best, we reflect a foretaste of God’s completed Kingdom where people will come from east and west and north and south to sit at the heavenly banquet table (Luke 13:29).

The third is that the prophets make it clear that God held everyone responsible for the alien among them. Help for the needy occurred at several levels: individual, the community, workplace, worship centers, and at the city gate. In these Biblical directives, God’s love for the needy is made clear (Psalm 146:9). To ignore the cry of the alien among them was a sin against God who delivered the Israelites from their oppression. Each of us, remembering our immigrant heritage and our good fortune, is called to do God’s will at all levels.

During this August congressional recess, I urge you to express your Biblical based opinions to our legislators regarding a comprehensive reform of our broken immigration system.