Christians conflicted over immigration policy.

Does the Bible call for helping others no matter what, or would Jesus approve of deportations and turning people away at the border?


Immigration issues and border policies have long been contentious issues in politics, but they are also creating a significant divide in the Christian community.

Many Christian houses of worship have embraced a “love thy neighbor” stance, arguing for benevolent treatment of immigrants seeking a better life. Some churches have even begun harboring illegal immigrants to prevent them from being deported.

However, there is a distinct sub-group of Christians who have taken the opposite position, throwing their support behind more stringent border policies that limit immigration to the U.S. Cracking down on immigration is not only in the best interest of the country, they argue, but it’s also in complete accordance with biblical teachings.

Pope Francis embracing immigration

Pope Francis greets an immigrant child

Pope Francis and “Compassionate Christianity”

Time and time again, Pope Francis has been a champion for immigration rights. He advocates for relaxing immigration policies and moving in the direction of an “open border” approach. Just last week, in fact, the pontiff reaffirmed the Church’s commitment to protecting immigrants.

Francis’ views reflect a compassion-minded Christianity, an ideology shared by many within the faith that focuses on promoting goodwill and kindness — no strings attached. Indeed, this overarching theme of benevolence toward foreigners is present throughout scripture. To give just two examples:

  • Exodus 23:9: “You shall not oppress a stranger, since you yourselves know the feelings of a stranger, for you also were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
  • Leviticus 19:34: “You will regard the stranger who resides with you as the native-born among you.”

Seems pretty clear cut, right? Well, not exactly.

“The Bible Supports Stronger Borders”

By its very nature, the Bible is interpreted differently by different people. In sharp contrast to the papal position, there are those Christians who insist the “compassionate” view is both naïve and misguided. Not only do they disagree with the concept of open borders on political grounds, but these folks argue the Bible actually supports stronger borders.

To understand this point of view, let’s examine a few passages:

  • Matthew 5:42: Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
  • Deuteronomy 15:11: “For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.”
  • Luke 10:25-37: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”The border wall between the U.S. and Mexico

On face value, these verses seem to advocate kindness and compassion toward everyone. Not necessarily, say opponents of immigration. First of all, they point out that such passages use the word “you” – a direct personal appeal to the individual. Thus, they should not be taken as policy recommendations for the government. Rather, they are instructions for how one should conduct themselves on a personal level.

Secondly, such verses emphasize proximity. “In your land,” “your neighbor,” etc. Proponents of tougher immigration laws argue these verses don’t refer to people living in other countries oceans away, just those nearby. So while the Bible does call for generosity toward the needy, they believe we should focus on helping those already in the country before trying to solve the world’s problems.

Which View is More Compelling?

Where do you stand? Does following the teachings of the Bible mean helping others no matter what, or would Jesus approve of deportations and turning people away at the border?

 

26 comments

  1. John Owens says:

    The teachings for Christians are NOT teachings for government. Those had already been given at Sinai. The way I am to treat a person I see needing shelter have nothing to do with the way one government is supposed to act toward another government. The reason for this is simple: If I choose to be generous OR stingy with what is mine, that is my right, my privilege, my responsibility. If government chooses to give away what is mine, that is theft and tyranny. Therefore, governments and individuals do not abide by the same rules and should not. I know most of you think Jesus was just a syrupy-sweet Ghandi type of man but you are unaware of His character which existed before the planet was made, according to the scripture (John 1, Hebrews 1, others). Regardless of all that, He nowhere said our governments should be Christ-like, NOR CAN THEY BE. Now, let the self-righteous hand-wringing begin.

    1. Rev paul collins says:

      Your right about our government but as christians should we not be full of compassuon

  2. Copeland Larry says:

    We are Christians we are followers of the teachings of Jesus not Moses. Jesus said Obey the current Law not Jewish Law that’s what he died for to put his Law into effect.

  3. Kirk says:

    I’m for tighter borders because my religious beliefs cannot be forced on other people. I.E. forcing American tax payers that do not like my charity choices to pay for them. At the same time, “open borders” is a lovely idea, but it is based on a socialist concept which completely ignores basic human nature just like all other socialist/communist concepts. It removes the choice of paying for expenses of illegals who knowingly chose to come here illegally rather than legally. Welfare is a completely different subject as it should apply only to citizens of this country and therefore choice is removed in regard to tax money. Borders are eliminated when states join and become one state, so we’ll have “open borders” when Mexico and Canada accept our Constitution and our President as their own and we allow them to do that. Until then, tighten the border to help prevent illegal activity since nobody has the right to give taxpayer money to non-citizen folks that broke our laws.

    1. Brother John says:

      Rest easy, Kirk. It’s unlikely that many Canadians would want an open border with the U.S., particularly if it required us to accept your President as our own. I totally agree with tightening the borders. We’re hoping for a wall…. a huge, high and impassable wall, but sadly Mexico is first on the list.

      1. Wen says:

        Now THAT is funny

  4. David Rediger says:

    No Larry, Jesus suffered on the cross for the fulfillment of the law (that is the Law of Moses that is stated in the Torah) and the prophets. Jesus was and still is a Jew and he came here to save the Jews first then the Gentiles. Jesus also said to forgive not just 7 times but 7 times 70. The entire Bible (from Genesis to Revelation) speaks of peace and love for they neighbor. Even your enemy you are to show mercy and kindness.

    Our government has guaranteed freedom of religion with the 1st Amendment. But our nation is also governed by laws. Laws to protect its citizens. It has laws and policies that govern and direct who can enter this country and who can apply for citizenship. There is a reason they are called illegal immigrants. They are breaking our laws, and those that harbor them are also committing a crime. In a free democracy it is up to our elected representatives to make or abolish laws. It is our duty as citizens to follow all laws, but if you disagree with a law you have the right and responsibility to lobby for a change in the law you disagree with.

    I do not believe that most people are xenophobic, just cautious. They do not want criminals or terrorist to disrupt our domestic tranquility.

    1. Brother John says:

      Maybe you’re referring to a sanitized version of the Bible, David. How could anyone possibly purport that “The entire Bible (from Genesis to Revelation) speaks of peace and love for they neighbor. Even your enemy you are to show mercy and kindness”?

      The references on this site are linked to the appropriate biblical passages for confirmation.

      http://dwindlinginunbelief.blogspot.ca/2010/04/drunk-with-blood-gods-killings-in-bible.html

    2. JOHN MAHER says:

      DAVID REDGER, the LAWS and the LAWMONGERS ONLY WORRY ABOUT THEMSELVEs and MORE THEIR OFF SHORE BANK ACCOUNTs, DUMP the tRUMP !!!

  5. Pastor Pete says:

    So, total separation of church and state, as outlined in the constitution, no religion in government, no religion in school, since this is plainly a matter for the individual conscience. Excellent.

    1. diggeriraq says:

      I do not care what religion a person is nor do I believe in any religion. There are way TOO MANY religions out there. Religion should be kept out of schools and government PERIOD. Keep religion in the churches and the home. The bible has been rewritten and translated and reworded SO MANY times.

      1. JOHN MAHER says:

        DITTO ! that MAKEs TWO of US, I HOPE, N O, I KNOW THERE ARE MORE, STAND DOWN and SPEAK OUT, GOD is in YOUR MIND N O T a BOOK……………………

  6. diggeriraq says:

    ILLEGAL IS ILLEGAL !!!!!!!!!
    It is the job of any sheriff or local law enforcement officer to also enforce federal
    immigration law also , not just local and state laws. IT IS THE LAW.
    You must have the PROPER LEGAL paperwork to be in this country LEGALLY !!
    A person HAS TO HAVE LEGAL ID and PROPER PAPERWORK to travel to any other country.
    When I went overseas the first time in 2005 , I had to carry at ALL TIMES my VALID passport & Visa (if needed in that country and just about all did ) and Travel papers.
    On my first trip going to Iraq in 2005 , I was in a Hotel in Sharjah outside Dubai and was stopped by 2 Sharjah Police Officers ( luckily for me they spoke English ). They questioned me and walked me back to the hotel to get my passport and papers. They told me that I had shown them respect and answered their questions politely so they let me go. One of them told me to NEVER forget my papers again. Otherwise I would have been in Sharjah or Dubai Jail for at least 6 months. No matter what the U.S. Embassy could say or do about it.
    There should NOT be ANY sanctuary cities or policies that allow sanctuary to ANYONE breaking the law ANYWHERE !!!! And neither should any church or religious place nor preacher , pope or anyone give sanctuary to ANYONE breaking the LAWS of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA.
    The LAW IS THE LAW !!!
    Either ABIDE by the law or go back where you came from !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    It is illegal under federal law to knowingly hire or employ illegal aliens. 8 U.S.
    Code § 1324a,,,,,,
    BUT yet they do anyway

  7. Bernard Moleman says:

    TRUE CHRISTIANS know we must build the wall to keep out all infidiels and illegals. READ THE BIBLE, AMERICA FIRST!

  8. diggeriraq says:

    There should NOT be ANY sanctuary cities or policies that allow sanctuary to ANYONE breaking the law ANYWHERE !!!! And neither should any church or religious place nor preacher , pope or anyone give sanctuary to ANYONE breaking the LAWS of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA.
    The LAW IS THE LAW !!!
    Either ABIDE by the law or go back where you came from !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. JOHN MAHER says:

    the COMMENTs on this SUBJECT AGAINST any OTHER PERSONs are DEPLORIBLE and IGNORANT, LOOK in the MIRROR PEOPLE…………….

  10. Zea Weis says:

    I’m all for human rights..But not at the expense of human life. This is why we have laws. Religion has always been a problem ..Its just someone’s idea. I really don’t care what anyone wants to believe in. I just wish they would not push it on me but start living it.

  11. Rob says:

    I have been struggling with this issue, these issues, for some time. Ever since the Pope stated that if you follow the beliefs of anti-immigration, etc., you are not a Christian. And the Pope cited Matthew 25:31-46, The Sheeps and the Goats.

    But I understand the difference between “personal” religious beliefs and governmental functions.

    The issues that I am facing however include certain, as I see them, dichotomies by the same people that state that tougher border restrictions, bans on Muslims, etc., are consistent with the Bible. I am not sure how they then justify other governmental functions:

    1. Abortion – on the one hand, many people who favor tougher immigration policies are also Pro-Lifers. Many Christian groups use their political clout to try to thwart the Pro-Choice movement through laws, judicial appointments, etc. These approaches are inoppiste to their beliefs that government should not superimpose religion over governmental function.

    2. Welfare – should we remove all welfare from government?

    3. Social Security – Same question. Does not my contributions today, force me to help others? Those already collecting? Should this be a governmental function?

    4. Health care?

    5. Housing?

    6. Education?

    7. Farm Subsidies?

    8. Corporate subsidies?

    And so much more.

    Separation of church and state issues abound. If we truly have separation of church and state, why are churches not taxed equally as other organizations – think real estate taxes.

    All of the references to Christianity throughout our history: “In God we Trust”? “One nation, Under God,..”?

    Complicated issues with no definitive answers.

    But one thing for sure: issues that divide us. Brother against brother.

    And I know Jesus Christ did not teach us to hate one another.

    We have recently seen violence because of our great divisions in society. I fear that such violence will be ours until we all conclude that men and women are men and women, regardless of their faith, their countries of origin, the color of their skin, their ethnicity, etc.

    From Jesus Christ to John Lennon.

    A Brotherhood of Man.

  12. Brother Jim Patterson says:

    What would Jesus do? What did Peter do? There is a wall around the Vatican , armed guards, one of the largest arsenals in the compound. Are there only “Pearly Gates” in Heaven? Is that not the greatest and final Vetting program? The nonsense of protecting Gods people is getting ridiculous .

  13. ralph says:

    The Church of Ralph:
    The Bible references are all wonderful stories and recordings of ancient histories intended to teach and inspire US to live better lives. We have studied and studied, discussed and discussed, argued and argued, debated and debated, stumbled over minor issues and developed major ones, yet WHEN we would start LIVING the Life that we have been given all of this would go away. ALL OF IT .

  14. Scott Lenz says:

    As Einstein said”Nations are the measles of mankind” reflect upon that

    1. Wen says:

      And get vacinated!

  15. Bill Fox says:

    Romans 13:1-7New International Version (NIV)
    Submission to Governing Authorities
    13 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
    6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

    Romans 13:9-10New International Version (NIV)
    9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,”[a] and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

  16. Honest Abe says:

    Many so-called Christians have not really entirely read at least one version of the New and Old testaments. Please, if you proport to be Christian, then please do so. All the answers are within. Don’t worry, there is enough smiting and killing within to make it an interesting read. But you will also see some very interesting moral lessons, and these are really the crux of the content.

    It even shows how to deal with a people bent on the subjugation of other peaceful people. Even the peaceful people did not have the cahonas to finish the job properly while being commanded to do so by god himself. (Which is why they are still having problems with these ones who want subjugation from others)

    Learn from history, so that mistakes will not be repeated.

  17. Elizabeth A Bailey says:

    Matthew 7:6 ‘Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under foot and turn to attack you.’ and Matthew 10:13,14 come to my mind. ‘And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town.’ Not being protected by my former church or my parents come to my mind, for I was violated by both because they were pacifists and did not protect their daughter. Let the righteous who follow our laws come to live with us. Leave the unrighteous to their own ends. We must protect our own first before we can go abroad to help others.

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