A friend of mine subscribes to the Sojourner’s email. In a recent missive, the religious magazine took on Arizona’s SB1070, recently passed into law. The email said:
Perhaps the most offensive aspect of the Arizona bill lies in the implications for the church. Under this law, those who “knowingly transport or harbor” undocumented immigrants will be at risk of arrest. Daily ministry activities like driving people to and from church or offering shelter or food to those in need will be unlawful. This law is a direct attack on the body of Christ, because it makes it illegal to love your neighbor and care for “the least of these” in Arizona. Many church leaders have already told Arizona politicians, “we will not comply.”
It would, in my opinion, break the faith between the Church and the faithful if we had to demand that they show us their papers or talk to the police before we administered to their needs. Too many churches do that, in other, less obvious ways. There are churches where charitable recipients must swear some fealty to Christianity before getting food from the pantry or a ride to the clinic. It’s as if those churches want to make sure that those to whom we give are “Worthy” of the contribution.
A couple of weeks ago, I gave a dollar (all I had in cash at the time) to a man who asked, because he said he was going to buy gas. My friend warned me: “You know he’s going to use that to buy beer, right?” I told him I didn’t care; Christ commanded me to give, to provide for the “least of these.” What that man did with the dollar is between him and God. I gave it in good faith. The best thing about my faith is that Jesus never asked me to be worthy of his sacrifice before giving it. He didn’t ask to see my credentials. I could take that grace and waste it, we learned in last night’s Beta Bible Study that the Israelites did just that when they entered the promised land – they took a surplus of grace (God delivering them out of Egypt) and squandered it into a deficit of faith.
Should the Church get to operate outside the law of the land? If the law of the land demanded that we do something against the law of God, would we have no recourse? No argument? This isn’t the same as laws that require us to wear seatbelts or prohibit us from jaywalking. This law in Arizona demands us to abandon our Great Commission; it demands that we break with our call to serve others; it demands that we ignore the Constitution AND the New Testament and the Koran and the Torah and other religious texts that emphasize our duty to help the poor, needy and spiritually seeking. There are betters ways, Christian ways, HUMAN ways to address the problem of illegal immigration, but hassling churches for answering their call and Christians from helping their neighbor – without documentation, without justification, by reason of their sanctification, is an abomination.