Monday, September 14, 2009


There a few things on my mind about the healthcare debate. First, I am troubled by the “you lie” incident during the President’s speech on healthcare. I am troubled that our President was intentionally misleading us. The Democrats in Congress had already acted to remove provisions to screen out undocumented immigrants. The President’s words may have been accurate, but they were misleading. I am troubled that an elected member of Congress would demonstrate such lack of control and disrespect for others. [I am myself given to inappropriate audible expressions of “Lord help us” when I am frustrated with events in public worship.] This isn’t England where they have universal healthcare and members of Parliament are expected to shout out objections to speeches: apologies given, apologies accepted, stereotypes reinforced, Democrats gain ground, and the beat goes on.

I am troubled by what appears to be a growing animosity toward undocumented immigrants. I am a conservative because I am convinced sin is a present reality that must be resisted [the problems of society can not be solved by simply throwing money at them; I say “resisted” because I am speaking of social order and not soteriology which calls for a more comprehensive approach to sin] and because I believe we have a responsibility to preserve and pass on the core values of our heritage. Among those values is personal liberty from an intrusive government. I am alarmed at the left’s absence of concern for this fundamental American value. On the other hand, I am more alarmed at the hatred I hear coming from the right. The founders of our great nation built their political philosophy on a declaration that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Recognizing that immigration is a complex issue and that we are a society governed by laws, I must assert there is a higher law than that established by legislative bodies. That law demands that we love aliens, strangers, and even our enemies. The Word of God is clear, we have an obligation to care for the weak, the oppressed, the widowed, and orphans and the “alien that lives among” us. We must separate our attitudes about poor imigration laws and practices from our affections for the immigrant among us. We will be judged by God for how we treat them. How vile is it to segragate children whose only crime is that their parents entered this country without documentation, to cut them off from the fundamentals of education and healthcare? We will reap what we sow.

In my conservative opinion, I do not want a healthcare system where I must present documentation of legal residency before I get treatment. [I am for this reason concerned about a national digitized system of medical records. The system might save money, but if it is under government control we are losing freedom to save money.] I do not want a system that by its very nature segragates people into those with rights for health care and those without those rights, especially children. True conservatives value life and human dignity; they struggle for justice and equality in the eyes of the law. True conservatives do not scapegoat the weakest amongst us for purposes of personal security.

If we do not have a resurgence of compassionate conservativism (the only real conservativism) in the GOP I will have to withdraw from the two-party system.


Phil Hoover, Chicago said...

As usual (and I might add LONG OVERDUE), you state your case very clear, and very compassionately. While I agree with about 95% of what you have to say, here is where I differ:

1) We should enforce the IMMIGRATION LAWS that are currently on our books. Those desiring to immigrate to the UNITED STATES should do it legally, and be welcomed when they come here LEGALLY.

2) Not enforcing the LAWS of this land (which by and large are VERY HUMANE in nature) is simply teaching a generation (several generations, actually) that OBEYING THE LAWS is optional, and not exactly a good one at that. NO ONE should come here illegally, expecting the legal residents of these United States to cowtow to their every wish and desire.

3) The Scriptural references you cited were from the Old Testament...and while I still hold the validity of the Old Covenant, I'm wanting to find New Testament passages that support breaking humane laws. We are not persecuting or torturing those who come here illegally....we are rewarding the absolute and total DISREGARD for our humane laws. I don't like it...not one bit.

Jackie Johns said...

Actually, Phil, I gave a mixture of OT and NT quotations and references. Love your enemies and care for widows and orphans are two New Testament references. Although not mentioned the "good Samaritan," "love thy neighbor" text seems relevant.

Also, the enforcement of our laws is not always humane. Last year a processing plant in Chattanooga was raided and the undocumented workers were detained and deported. The inhumane aspect was that this happened while their children were at school. There was no provision made for the children. They simply arrived home from school to find empty houses and no word as to why. I find that very inhumane.

Finally, as candidate Obama pointed out, it is simply impossible to round them all up and deport them. My question is how will we treat them while they are here? Will we treat them as less than human, or will we love them as our neighbors? That is a New Testament question.

Phil Hoover, Chicago said...

And yes, Jackie, I see where you are coming from, and I do agree with you. But somewhere, we MUST DRAW the line, and enforce the humane laws of this nation. Rounding people up and deporting them while making NO provisions for their children is not humane or wise.

Breaking the laws of this nation is neither wise nor recommended. At some point, we MUST show everyone in this nation, documented and undocumented, that we mean what we say with our laws. We are teaching an entire generation that our laws can be broken and disregarded because there are NO consequences.

Justin Knowles said...

Obviously the immigration situation is very complex. Hopefully we can all agree that deporting 15 million people is not even an option. If we can agree on that, how do we treat the undocumented immigrants who are here? Do we try to make conditions so bad for them that they all choose to leave voluntarily? For that to work, they would have to be denied so many rights that it would be incongruent with the Christian ethic of loving your neighbor. A few thoughts:
1)Concerning teaching a generation that obeying laws is optional, don't most Americans (and most Christians) do that every day when they get behind the steering wheel? Speeding is one of the leading causes of fatal accidents, and I believe that a higher percentage of legal residents speed than illegal residents. You'll find that illegal immigrants
2) To say that illegal immigrants experience no consequences is not true. Many are paid unfair wages for the work that they do and are often times intimidated by their employers out of needed medical attention from on the job accidents. There are countless other ways that illegal immigrants and their families experience the consequences of breaking immigration law. I really don't think you could find 1 child of an illegal immigrant who believes that breaking immigration law has no consequences. In fact they know the consequences better than anyone.
3) I think the Pharisees were successful in teaching future generations about the consequences of law-breaking, but they totally missed the heart of the Gospel. I personally am more concerned that we will duplicate their error than I am that we will raise a generation of perpetual law-breakers. If I err on one side, I want to err on the side of compassion. This does settle the issue, but it is the trajectory of my thinking at this time.

Jackie Johns said...

Well said, Justin.

Phil Hoover, Chicago said...

And Justin, I would just ask you to come live in CHICAGO, and see what a disaster the whole illegal/undocumented drama has played out here.

NO...start deporting them if we must. But we must have 'respect' for our laws. We must also have fair wages and honest, ethical treatment of our workers. But we MUST abide by our laws.