Monday, June 27, 2011

A Rebuttal to the SBC on Immigration and the Gospel, Part III

Having previously discussed the economic and political implications of mass immigration, particularly of the illegal variety, I’d like to consider in a bit more detail some of the thorny biblical and theological matters surrounding the issue. Here I will interact with Dr. Russell Moore’s biblical and ethical arguments. Because this will likely get a bit lengthy, I intend to write two posts. First, I’ll deal directly with Dr. Moore’s sundry assertions defending the SBC resolution “On Immigration and the Gospel”. In a second post, hopefully later this week, I’ll try to provide a brief outline and sketch of what the Bible says about nationality.

First, let me praise Dr. Moore for explicitly tying the immigration issue and other matters of public policy to Scripture. God’s Word is inerrant and sufficient for all of life and gives us a worldview grid to thoughtfully examine the issues of the day. Unfortunately, misinterpretations and poor applications of Scripture combined with faulty logical assumptions flaw his overall analysis.

The Jesus Was an Illegal Immigrant Fallacy, or There is No Such Thing as Illegal Immigration

Dr. Moore repeatedly claims that Jesus was an illegal or undocumented immigrant. He begins with this Jim Wallisesque doozy: “First of all, our Lord Jesus himself was a so-called ‘illegal immigrant’”. I’ll address shortly the truth of the statement, but take note of Moore’s choice of language. By his use of scare quotes Moore repudiates the use of the word “illegal” and implies that there should be no moral distinction made between legal and illegal immigrants. He prefers the term “undocumented” workers or immigrants, by which he appears to mean aliens who may not have followed proper bureaucratic procedures but have otherwise done nothing immoral or sinful. It stands to reason by Moore’s rationale that if the sinless, perfect Son of God was an “illegal immigrant” then there must be nothing inherently sinful about violating immigration laws.

Toward the end of his essay Dr. Moore continues the same line of reasoning by crafting a picture of the New Heavens and New Earth where believers worship together before “the throne of a former undocumented immigrant”. Via tortured and fallacious ethical reasoning Moore again normalizes law breaking because after all, Jesus did it. Dr. Moore is undoubtedly correct when he says, “this [the immigration issue] is also a question of mission.” But alongside the call for generous hospitality there must be a respect for law. Christians cannot and must not decouple the message of grace from the necessity of repentance. A central focus of the church must be the calling of sinners, those who have violated God’s law and civil law, to repentance. The church must help illegal immigrants come to Christ, confess their sins of illegal entry, repent and return to love and care for their people and families. The portrait of Jesus painted by Dr. Moore is unhelpful and his rhetoric is little different from those in the sanctuary movement while his hermeneutic smacks of the liberalism rejected by the SBC for three decades.

There are other reasons to scoff at Moore’s analogy. First, Jesus and His family simply moved from one Roman imperial province to another. Sure there were legal, cultural and linguistic differences, but the modern equivalent might be moving from Rhode Island to Eastern Kentucky (actually the distance to Egypt would have been considerably less than sojourning across parts of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California if you’re keeping track at home). Second, the nation-state is a relatively new conception historically and the 1st Century is a tad different from the contemporary world. The immigration restrictions enforced by modern states were not as necessary in an agrarian culture and such laws didn’t exist to be broken. Third, Joseph moved his family because of the impending threat to their lives posed by Herod--he wasn't looking for a work permit. Therefore, it would be more apt to term Christ a refugee rather than an illegal immigrant.

In an episode of “The Simpson’s” Bart took an interest in journalism and set out to get advice from Kent Brockman, Springfield’s premier news anchor. Brockman told Bart that the key to journalistic success was human interest stories that “cloud the issues and fog the mind.” The “Baby Jesus was an illegal immigrant” argument serves the same purpose. It is a flawed piece of emotion laden nonsense bandied about in order to fog the mind, preclude rational discourse and draw an erroneous equivalence between two completely unrelated circumstances separated by fact as well as 2000 years of history and legal development. As an argument it is ethically troubling, exegetically unsupportable, historically inaccurate, and logically fallacious.

The Law of the Stranger

Dr. Moore next harkens to the Old Testament law and history of Israel to ground his plea for the practical erasure of borders. He writes, “In so doing [migrating to Egypt as a boy], our Lord Jesus was re-living the life of Israel, our ancestors in the faith, who were also immigrants and sojourners in Egypt (Exod. 1:1-14; 1 Chron. 16:19; Acts 7:6). It is this reality, the Bible tells us, that is to ground our response to those who sojourn among us (Exod. 22:21; Ps. 94:6; Jer.7:6; Ezek. 22:29; Zech. 7:10). God, the Bible says, 'executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt'" (Deut. 10:18-19).

An appeal to biblical law is refreshing given Moore’s penchant as a proponent of Two Kingdom theology to frequently ground his defense of Christian social ethics in natural law rather than pointing to scriptural precept. Unfortunately his interpretation of these passages is flawed. Moore conflates and misapplies different Hebrew words for alien (ger) and foreigner (nekhar or zar) which have different meanings in the Old Testament Scriptures and historic Judaic cultural practices.

In his book “The Immigration Crisis: Immigrants, Aliens, and the Bible”, Dr. James Hoffmeier provides a clear definition of an alien in Israelite culture and law. The Hebrew word ger is translated variously as "stranger" (KJV, NASB), "sojourner" (RSV, ESV), and "alien" (NIV) in contemporary English translations. A ger was a foreigner living in a land outside his homeland who had received permission from the proper authority. For example, when Jacob's family wanted to flee famine they traveled to Egypt and asked Pharaoh for permission to enter, "We have come to sojourn in the land … please let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen" (Gen. 47:4). With the appropriate permission secured, Jacob’s family, which grew into the people of Israel, became legal aliens in Egypt. In short, they were allowed into the country by the host. This scenario finds its modern equivalent in the immigrant who has legally entered a foreign land with permission and secured proper documentation to that effect.

With this background we better understand the various biblical laws protecting “aliens” from oppression. It is wrong to allow people into your land and subsequently subjugate them. God gave many laws to protect aliens in Israel. Aliens were not to be oppressed (Ex. 22:21; Lev. 19:33-34). They were integrated into Israelite society, entitled to equal justice (Num. 15:15-16) and equal pay (Deut. 24:14-15), and could celebrate Passover (Ex. 12:48). They had legal standing and near equality of status in the community.

Two other Hebrew words, nekhar and zar, refer to those foreigners passing through or sojourning in Israel. They were not given the same benefits and protections as the ger (Ex. 12:43; Deut. 15:3; 17:15). The "foreigner" and the "alien" did not have the same social and legal status. Some English versions of the Bible, including the TNIV and TLV, translate ger as "foreigner," allowing the reader to think that these categories of people were the same. They were not.

Biblical supporters of “comprehensive immigration reform” and a “path to legalization” often refer to Leviticus 19:33-34, which says: “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

Citing C. D. Ginsburg, R.J. Rushdoony says that this "'stranger' is one who has become circumcised, fasted on the Day of Atonement, obeyed the laws of sacrifice, and has practiced the laws of chastity, as well as obeyed other moral laws." In short, once a foreigner had become part of the community, his nationality was not to be used against him. Such passages address treatment of aliens once they are part of the community.

The Scriptures do call for the extension of hospitality and justice, not an open-borders re-ordering of social life. Rushdoony says, "To call for the modern, humanistic society with an open relationship to all men would have appeared to the Israelites as the ultimate tyranny. The law did not require any such a re-ordering of any man's private life: It simply required justice in dealing with all men."

The Spiritual Equals Physical Fallacy

A perennial temptation in Christian thought is the elevation of the “spiritual” over and against the material. The acceptance of Neo-Platonic and Aristotelian categories has plagued the church from the beginning. The Christian believes that God created everything good, that sin mars every aspect of creation, and that Christ redeems it all, though we await the future perfect fulfillment of that promise.

The invisible church is composed of the elect in all places in all ages. It is a spiritual fact from age to age and consists of people from every tribe, tongue, nation, social class, ethnic group and historical epoch. This invisible, universal church is made manifest and incarnate in local bodies and assemblies. There is an on-going debate as to whether churches must, or even should be multi-racial and multi-ethnic. In his essay, Dr. Moore says, “Our commitment to a multinational kingdom of God’s reconciliation in Christ must be evident in the verbal witness of our gospel and in the visible makeup of our congregations.” I don’t feel the need to enter this debate suffice to say that I agree with the noted theologian John Frame, who says that the natural tendency to want to be with people like ourselves is clearly not sinful, whether in marriage and friendship or worship.

Elsewhere, in a defense of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement, Dr. Moore writes, “If God personally regenerates repentant sinners, both white and black, how can we see people in terms of ‘race’ rather than in terms of the person?” I understand what Dr. Moore is saying here and there is truth to the comment; however, it sets the spiritual directly at odds with the physical and has the flavor of Gnosticism and Manicheanism. In this view God’s salvation abstracts the individual from any and all natural attachments—not merely national and ethnic groups but presumably the family as well (Yes, I’m aware of Matthew 10:34-47). Could Moore’s logic not be applied to gender as well? “If God personally regenerates repentant sinners, both male and female, how can we see people in terms of ‘sex’ rather than in terms of the person.” If not, why? Isn’t it right there in Galatians 3:28?

The point is simple: Moore is utilizing doctrines that apply to the church, a primarily spiritual body, and imposing them on a nation, which is a physical and material entity. They are not analogous. If Moore were simply addressing the church, I would not strenuously object to his reasoning on this particular point. However, given the political nature and goals of the resolution, his comparison of apples and oranges needs to be noted. Simply because the Body of Christ is multiracial does not necessarily imply that particular peoples are not allowed to claim a land for themselves. Would Dr. Moore argue against the public policies of the state of Israel, to take one example, that are designed to maintain an ethnically Jewish state? No, in fact he has written that "Powers rage against" Israel, who as a nation merits the prayers and support of Christians, because "these are the kinsmen according to the flesh of our Messiah." In short, some ethnic groups are allowed to insulate themselves from a demographic transformation but others are not quite so lucky.

Next time I’ll labor to provide a biblical view on nationality and ethnicity (note that I said “a”, not “the”.)

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Rebuttal to the SBC on Immigration and the Gospel, Part I I

On the Political Consequences of Immigration

In my previous post I dealt primarily with the economic consequences of immigration. I would like to continue by highlighting the political problems caused by the continuing high levels of immigration.

In his book “Who Are We?: The Challenges to America’s National Identity”, legendary political scientist Samuel Huntington has done yeoman work pointing out the worrying features of current immigration policy. He writes: "Mexican immigration differs from past immigration and most other contemporary immigration due to a combination of six factors: contiguity, scale, illegality, regional concentration [in the American Southwest], persistence, and historical presence... Demographically, socially, and culturally, the reconquista (re-conquest) of the Southwest United States by Mexican immigrants is well underway."

If Huntington is correct the SBC has officially acquiesced to Reconquista and endorsed the transformation of the American nation with its call to amnesty. In so doing it is merely following the example established by our political leaders.

In the 1990s, Bill Clinton embraced the coming demographic revolution: "We want to become a multiracial, multiethnic society. This will arguably be the third great revolution.... to prove that we literally can live without ... having a dominant European culture."

Shortly after these comments, Clinton headed west to exult in the fact that California's white folks were soon to lose their majority status: "Within the next three years here in California, no single race or ethnic group will make up a majority of the state's population. ... A half century from now, there will be no majority race in America."

Running to secure the GOP nomination in 2000, George W. Bush also welcomed the reconstitution of the United States. Mr. Bush said:

America has one national creed, but many accents. We are now one of the largest Spanish-speaking nations in the world. We're a major source of Latin music, journalism, and culture. Just go to Miami, or San Antonio, Los Angeles, Chicago, or West New York, New Jersey... and close your eyes and listen. You could just as easily be in Santo Domingo or Santiago, or San Miguel de Allende. For years our nation has debated this change - some have praised it and others have resented it. By nominating me, my party has made a choice to welcome the new America.

Who exactly gave these hombres the right to create a "new America," and what might it look like from a political standpoint, if it survives at all? Alexander Hamilton said that “the safety of the Republic depends essentially on the energy of a common national sentiment…The influx of foreigners must, therefore, tend to…corrupt the national spirit…” As the old saying goes, in politics demography is destiny.

The demographic tsunami unleashed by 45 years of mass immigration will distort and change American political life in at least five ways. First, traditional political institutions and especially parties and their campaign tactics will compete for this new bloc of voters. Such is the nature of democratic polities and importing a new class of voters will reshape the way politics is conducted. Our parties and institutions will adapt to the demands, interests, and values of immigrants by abandoning issues and constituencies they have supported in the past.

A second long-term possibility is that immigrants may import new demands and interests that cannot be met by existing political institutions. The likelihood is that they will create new political vehicles to pursue their goals, further polarizing and fracturing the electorate along racial lines, which is a recipe for continued conflict. According to a Zogby poll, some 58% of Mexicans think that the American southwest belongs to Mexico. One might assume that Republican and Democrat politicians will resist such claims. In such an event, it would not be terribly surprising to see new parties form that are more amenable to be shaped by the forces of polarization and disunity.

Third, mass immigration is likely to create a backlash, creating further racial and ethnic polarization in the country. Our political elites actually relish such an outcome as it provides justification for further meddling in the lives of citizens. The management of racial and ethnic strife is bread and butter for the state and unchecked borders become a means of creating chaos to be “solved” by statist means.

The late Sam Francis coined the term "Anarcho-Tyranny" which he defined as "both anarchy (the failure of the state to enforce the laws) and, at the same time, tyranny—the enforcement of laws by the state for oppressive purposes; the criminalization of the law-abiding and innocent through exorbitant taxation, bureaucratic regulation, the invasion of privacy, and the engineering of social institutions, such as the family and local schools; the imposition of thought control through 'sensitivity training' and multiculturalist curricula, 'hate crime' laws, gun-control laws that punish or disarm otherwise law-abiding citizens but have no impact on violent criminals who get guns illegally, and a vast labyrinth of other measures. In a word, anarcho-tyranny."

Francis elaborates on immigration as part-and-parcel of this strategy:

The most obvious sign of what would normally be called anarchy is the immigration invasion. By some serious estimates, no fewer than 11-to-13-million illegal aliens now live in the United States, most of them from Mexico or Central America. The Mexican government actively encourages this invasion and, as the press recently reported, even provides to its own citizens a guidebook on how to carry it out. Our government does nothing serious to stop the invasion, to apprehend the invaders, or to deter the aggression that the Mexican state is perpetrating. The invaders—as residents of Arizona, where some 40 percent of illegal aliens enter the country, constantly complain—threaten the lives, safety, and property of law-abiding American citizens; depress wages; gobble welfare; and constitute a new underclass that is an object of demagogic political manipulation by both American and Mexican politicians. (The illegals in this country cannot legally vote, though that does not necessarily stop them, but they remain voters in Mexico, and Mexican politicians now routinely campaign for their votes inside the United States.) The federal government invaded Iraq, although Iraq never harmed or threatened us, but it does virtually nothing to resist the massive invasion (and eventually the conquest) of its own country and the deliberate violation of its own laws by Mexico.

Fourth, the Republican Party is finished. Peter Brimelow and Ed Rubestein have been arguing since at least 1997 that mass immigration would leave the GOP as a minority party, in spite of their best efforts to "reach out" to Hispanic voters. Large blocs of immigrant voters have typically become aligned with the party supporting big government (though that would describe both parties presently in the United States). Given the biblical limitations placed on civil government Christians ought to be concerned by the prospect of adding millions of potential voters who would likely use the state as a means of redistributing resources, i.e., theft by ballot box.

Finally, mass immigration will shift political power from the heartland to the coasts. Some seventy-five percent of immigrants settle in just six states. Between 1990 and 2000, California lost nearly a million white residents, yet the population of the state increased dramatically due to immigration. California picked up five House seats as a result of reapportionment. Texas, New York, and Florida also picked up seats while Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin each lost one seat and Colorado and Kentucky both failed to gain a seat that they otherwise would have had there been no immigration after 1990.

Immigration Undermines Social Trust

Mass immigration also dramatically undermines covenantal thinking by exalting the individual at the expense of family, community and nation. Individuals leave behind their community and desert their homeland rather than working to improve it. They move to a different place and by their presence in large numbers necessarily transform it culturally, economically and politically. Who benefits? Perhaps the immigrant himself and possibly those individuals acquiring whatever service he may provide. But community, the ties of natural affection that are produced by commonality are completely undermined.

Research by the influential political scientist Robert Putnam, of Bowling Alone fame, shows that the more diverse a community is the less likely its inhabitants are to trust anyone.

In the face of diversity people tend to "hunker down" and surround themselves entirely with the familiar. "We act like turtles. The effect of diversity is worse than had been imagined. And it’s not just that we don’t trust people who are not like us. In diverse communities, we don’t trust people who do look like us," Putnam says.

Putnam adjusted his data for distinctions in class, income, and other variables but still reached the "shocking" conclusion that untrammeled ethnic diversity is a breeding ground of distrust that spreads like an aggressive cancer, destroying the body politic. "They don’t trust the local mayor, they don’t trust the local paper, they don’t trust other people and they don’t trust institutions," said Prof Putnam. "The only thing there’s more of is protest marches and TV watching."

Putnam found that trust was lowest in Los Angeles, that heaven on earth for mulitcultists everywhere, but that his findings were also applicable in South Dakota.

Mass immigration also undermines the free market, which necessarily exists as part of social framework. While that framework needs a system of law to protect property rights, enforce contracts, prosecute practitioners of fraud, etc., it is also dependent on a rudimentary level of trust among the populace. If that trust is undermined, the foundation supporting the entire edifice crumbles, with the state being the institution forcefully putting the house back together.

A classical liberal like John Stuart Mill knew that free institutions are "next to impossible in a country made up of different nationalities." But speaking of immigration, Putnam says "that immigration materially benefited both the 'importing' and 'exporting' societies, and that trends have 'been socially constructed, and can be socially reconstructed.'"


The state exists for three primary purposes: 1) to protect human life made in the image of God (Gen. 9:6); 2) to serve as a minister of justice defending the law abiding from lawbreakers (Rom. 13:3-4); and 3) to provide for a peaceful, orderly society (I Tim. 1:1-2). As it relates to immigration is the state fulfilling its charge before God?

In his essay, Dr. Moore makes one brief reference to Romans 13, a primary scriptural text dealing with the role and authority of civil government. Moore quite curtly dismisses those wacky simpletons who assume illegal immigration should be treated as…well….illegal. Moore writes, “It is easy to lash out at undocumented immigrants as ‘law-breakers,’ and to cite Romans 13 as reason to simply call for deportation and retribution. But this issue is far more complicated than that.” Indeed, I hope that I’ve shown it is MUCH more complicated than that.

Does the magistrate not have a duty to protect his people from dissolution and destruction through demographic invasion? Are Americans under some moral and legal obligation to obliterate themselves or be "socially reconstructed"? Are nationhood and nationality gifts from God? If so, is it right and proper to destroy them by appealing to the universal ethical claims of Christianity? I'm waiting for someone from the SBC to answer.

Next time: Jesus was an illegal immigrant, and other logical fallacies and a brief dissection of Dr. Moore's faulty interpretation and application of the law of the stranger...and much more fun!

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Rebuttal to the SBC on Immigration and the Gospel, Part I


At their annual meeting in Phoenix last week, Southern Baptist Convention messengers passed a controversial resolution on immigration and the Gospel. The resolution specifically calls upon "governing authorities to implement, with the borders secured, a just and compassionate path to legal status, with appropriate restitutionary measures, for those undocumented immigrants already living in our country." For good measure the resolution also condemned, without defining, that old bugaboo—nativism. Authors and prominent supporters of the decree managed to cram it through despite modest opposition from messengers.

A Tucson pastor named Richard Huff nearly succeeded in erasing the amnesty provision. Huff said, "[T]he principle is that citizenship is a right of people that are here under legal processes, and you do not want to make this something you are rewarding people who are in violation of the law and they have no interest in being here legally." Huff's amendment narrowly lost, 723-766.

Another defeated amendment would have urged illegal aliens to return to their home countries. Finally, to quell the dissenters, proponents had the audacity to add an amendment indicating that the resolution is "not to be construed as support for amnesty for any undocumented immigrant.” That thigh-slapper fails the truth in advertising test.

Writing prior to passage Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the SBC flagship seminary in Louisville, tweeted “Southern Baptists are at a crucial decision point. The immigration crisis demands a Gospel response before any political response.” Mohler here implies that disagreeing with his view on the question is tantamount to placing politics above the Gospel. That is a serious allegation.

My colorful retort: By passing this resolution the SBC eagerly hopped on the amnesty bandwagon and comes dangerously close to advocating lawlessness in the name of Jesus. In so doing, they seek the approval of men, by which I mean the editors of the New York Times, rather than God. The entire spectacle is yet another piece of evidence that even the most “conservative” American institutions have been taken hostage by the poisonous principles of political correctness and Cultural Marxism, a Satanic Trojan Horse whose purpose is to serve as a weapon wielded by the enemies of Christianity to lull gullible and guilt-ridden Christians into complacency prior to slitting our collective throat.

In a number of posts I intend to discus the economic, political, and gospel dimensions of the debate over immigration (in that order). To engage the discussion I will be critiquing an essay by Dr. Russell Moore, Dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His essay is the most cogent attempt to defend the resolution I’ve seen.

Just the Facts

Dr. Moore begins his essay with the following rhetorical salvo: “The Christian response to immigrant communities in the United States cannot be ‘You kids get off of my lawn’ in Spanish.” Later he writes, “If our response to them is to absorb the nativism and bigotry of some elements of society around us, we are showing them a vision of what the Bible calls ‘the flesh’ rather than the Spirit.” Does the portrait painted by Dr. Moore remotely describe the Christian response to immigration? Is it even an approximation of current American immigration policy? Was the draw bridge lifted up when I wasn’t paying attention? Or is Moore simply using an emotion-laden argument designed to inhibit dissent?

In 2010 alone the U.S. admitted 1 million legal immigrants. Of that total 73% were based on “family preference”, 16.7% were admitted as refugees or asylum seekers, 4.2% were based on the “diversity lottery”, and just 5.7% were admitted because they possessed employment skills in demand. In 2009 and 2008 an additional 1.1 Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) were added each year. As recently as the 1990s America added up to 1.8 million LPRs annually.

Meanwhile the number of “undocumented workers” living in the U.S. is a matter in dispute. Typical estimates range from 7 to 20 million. Officially the Department of Homeland Security places the number at 10.8 million and other reputable sources put the figure closer to 13 million. Were there mass deportations of these law breakers? No, in 2010 there 387,242 deportations, of which 168,342 were for criminal convictions.

Average annual legal immigration in the 1990s was twice that of the 1970s and three times the flow from the 1950s. Does this comport with the picture of a nation filled with pitchfork wielding xenophobes? Or does it describe a generous nation that has broadly shared its bounty with millions with who have sought to legally become citizens?

On the Economics of Immigration

Dr. Moore largely ignores the economic consequences of immigration and only tangentially addresses the issue in a couple of terse comments. First, he chastises Evangelical Christians who “speak of undocumented immigrants in this country with disdain as ‘those people’ who are ‘draining our health care and welfare resources.’” He goes on to say that Americans send conflicting messages about immigration, largely because business interests slavishly pant after sources of cheap labor and often seek out vulnerable immigrants.

There are numerous economic costs connected to immigration, both legal and illegal, that Dr. Moore and the SBC resolution fail to note. According to Census Bureau figures poverty rates continue to increase and the number of Americans without health insurance has reached all-time highs. Mass immigration is a significant source of these problems and data show a growing chasm between natives and the foreign-born. For example, consider median family income:

Income of native households rose $135, or 0.3%
Income of naturalized citizen households fell $422, or 0.9%
Income of non-citizen households fell $1,852, or 5.6%

The poverty rate for U.S.-born citizens was 11.8%, but 21.7% among foreign-born non-citizens.

Because immigrants typically have limited job skills and are very poor they frequently become a burden on the American welfare state. According to Steve Camarota state governments spend an estimated $11 billion to $22 billion to provide welfare to immigrants. Camarota finds that welfare use remains high over time; immigrants in the country for more than 20 years still use the welfare system at significantly higher rates than natives.

Data pertaining to health insurance is likewise shocking. While 12.7% of natives lack insurance coverage, 33.2% of all (legal and illegal) immigrants did not have health coverage. Immigrants account for 27.1% all Americans without health insurance.

There are approximately 14.5 million immigrants and their U.S.-born children who lack health insurance, 31.9% of the entire uninsured populace. In 2007, 47.6 percent of immigrants and their U.S.-born children were either uninsured or on Medicaid compared to 25 percent of natives and their children. Lack of health insurance is a significant problem even for long-time residents. Among immigrants who arrived in the 1980s, 28.7 percent lacked health insurance in 2007. In short, much of the “health insurance crisis” in America is the result of surging immigration. What was the consequence? More statism in the form of Obamacare.

Finally there is education. According to a report by FAIR, expenditures for illegal immigrants from grades K-12 costs $52 billion annually, largely absorbed by states and localities in often very disparate ways. School districts are dropping programs and closing schools at least in part because they are paying instead for services to the children of non-citizens (I’ll concede that immigration is a small part of the general trouble with public education, but hey, I homeschool).

Aside from the costs to taxpayers there are also consequences for job seekers resulting from mass immigration. The intrepid Ed Rubenstein has demonstrated on repeated occasions that Mexican immigrants in particular are increasingly displacing natives in the job market. Moreover, unemployment statistics are not indicative of the entire economic picture and ignores underemployment and decreasing wages caused by immigration.

A secondary issue of economic ethics completely ignored by Moore is the redistributive impact of mass immigration. Like so much public policy the benefits of immigration are largely privatized while costs are socialized. Benefits accrue to the upper middle class while costs are borne largely by those on the lower rung of the economic ladder.

The unfairness and insanity of America’s immigration policy has been ably dissected by Harvard economist George Borjas in his book Heaven’s Door: Immigration Policy and the American Economy and numerous other books and academic papers.

One myth Borjas explodes is that immigration adds substantial wealth to the American economy. In fact, as Borjas says, “All the available estimates suggest that the annual net gain is astoundingly small, less than .1% of GDP.” In real terms, that translates into approximately $10 billion dollars added to the overall economy, just $30 per person. It has also been estimated that between $6-$10 billion dollars is remitted to Mexico by immigrants working in the U.S.

But that’s not the end of the story. The relative skills and economic performance of successive waves of immigrants has continued to decline. Immigrants arriving on American shores in 1960 had more education and earned more money than natives. By 1998, the newest arrivals earned 23% less than natives. They also had acquired two fewer years of education than natives.

As low-skill immigrants have flooded the labor market opportunities for the least skilled among us have markedly decreased and the most vulnerable Americans have seen their wages decline as a result. Borjas estimates that immigration is responsible for half the decrease observed in the wages of high-school dropouts.

The obvious implication of these facts is that immigration policy as currently constituted has become little more than a wealth redistribution program, shifting resources from the poor to the wealthy without creating aggregate economic growth. The lawyers, politicians, business executives, journalists, and editorialists who drive the immigration debate don’t have their livelihoods, not to mention their children’s education, threatened by mass immigration, but they do acquire the cheapest pool cleaners, house-keepers, and roofers in the Western world.

If Dr. Moore's policy prescriptions are followed Americans would be asked to subsidize millions of additional outsiders at the expense of their own countrymen, children, and posterity. Studies estimate that two thirds of illegal immigrants lack a high school degree and Robert Rector of the Heritage foundation found that "the average immigrant without a high school degree will impose a net cost of nearly $100,000 on U.S. taxpayers over the course of his or her life."

Rector continues: "This means that the six million immigrants lacking a high school diploma and legally residing in the U.S. today will cost taxpayers more than a half trillion dollars over their lifetime." Indeed the average annual fiscal burden of illegal immigration is nearly $100 billion according to a recent study published by FAIR.

Dr. Moore fails to reckon with the economic fact of scarcity. Resources are not infinite. Economics is not a science but a branch of applied ethics primarily focusing on the study of human action. In a world of scarcity, a result of God’s curse on the earth due to Adam’s sin, human beings necessarily make choices among competing alternatives effecting the distribution of resources. Ethically speaking do six trillion people have a claim on scarce and finite American monetary and economic resources?

Do Americans have a moral imperative to import poverty, and in so doing divert resources and employment opportunities from our most vulnerable citizens? The primary victims of unchecked immigration are Americans with little education and skills, native-born minorities, convicts who have done their time, and the disabled. These are our fellow citizens whom the SBC would consign to dog-eat-dog competition with those who have broken American law. Surely, Dr. Moore, such citizens are among "the least of these”.

Stay tuned…more in coming days.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Remembering My Father

This is the first Father's Day since the passing of my dad last Thanksgiving. He is missed. There are days it still hurts that he is gone. But there is also great rejoicing. Because of his example, because of his life, I will see him again.

It seems odd to put thoughts of this nature on such a medium. But for those who knew my dad and loved him, I want them to understand that what they loved in my father was Jesus. It was His love and grace that shown through in my father.

Below is the eulogy I delivered at dad's funeral, sans a few remarks that came to mind as I was speaking. I hope that it honors him. He was a man who deserves the honor of his son. I look toward the day when I see my heavenly Father, but my earthly father as well.


Lloyd Dow was never big on rituals and traditions. Dad would not have wanted much made of this event. But many have come today because in one way or another, at one time or another, he was an integral part of the rhythms of our lives. We have come, rightly, with heavy hearts because a source of stability, sameness and godly consistency has been taken from us, never to return. We grieve because of the awful reality of death that rips apart body and soul in a horrible act.

The great king David captured something of our sadness as he sang of his covenant with God. From dust we have been made and to dust we will return. The life of a man, says David, is like grass, the wind passes over it and we are gone.

Yet dad’s life does not seem so fleeting and inconsequential as grass. Dad redeemed the time because he was concerned with things of permanence rather than the fleeting material trifles that fill our day. At his core, Dad loved God and he loved people. Jesus said that when fully formed a student looks like his teacher. In his life dad sought to look like his teacher and his Lord. In his own way, though a pale and imperfect reflection, dad sought to mirror Jesus through a life of self-sacrifice and service.

I could go on for hours about the ways dad served and loved others. I’m hoping that today many of you will take time to tell me stories about dad. As his son I would cherish that.

Perhaps you are here today having worked with my father or maybe were his student. Dad’s former students are everywhere and whenever I meet one his name always elicits smiles and spontaneous laughter. About five years ago I recall stopping at a McDonalds in Decatur with dad and my oldest son, Andrew. While I was trying to gulp down a quarter pounder dad was surrounded, awash in a swell of townsfolk eager to chat with “Mr. Dow” some eleven years after his retirement. It was like being with a minor celebrity.

Dad had an evident gift for making learning fun. I picture his class as a place with a slew of hands-on projects going on simultaneously with paint, glue and plaster of paris being slung hither and yon by overzealous kids with dad overseeing it all like a whirling dervish. I visualize model rockets being shot skyward and students trudging through graveyards or interviewing elderly residents of the hometown he loved. Dad could be a stern disciplinarian applying the “board of education” to the seat of learning. He was also the teacher and principal who gave kids dollar bills on their birthday, took them to eat ice cream for no reason, went to their ballgames and brought them into his home. He gave them himself. For dad teaching was

more than a career and heaven knows he didn’t become an educator so his family could live in the lap of luxury. Dad had a deep and abiding affection for his students because he wanted to serve them and saw teaching not as a cross to bear but a calling to enjoy. He labored hard because he loved.

Dad also faithfully served many in this church and various gospel ministries. Most of you know dad as the self-appointed greeter of Oakwood Bible Church, stationed near the door greeting visitors and long-time members alike with a hearty handshake and maybe a joke or quick story. In recent days I’ve heard countless times from many that they suspect dad has surely pushed St. Peter into heaven’s break room and is now greeting saints as they enter paradise.

That’s the Lloyd Dow that many Oakwook Bible Church members may know. But if you haven’t been around for longer than a decade or so that really only scratches the surface. Mom and dad joined Oakwood Bible Church in 1965 and from that time he served numerous stints on the church board as an elder and deacon. He chaired the building committee responsible for the construction of the facility we’re sitting in this afternoon. If I’m not mistaken, my father and older brothers stained the very beams that hold this roof aloft and dad and I painted several of the nursery rooms down the hall—this was the sort of thing he did in “retirement”. In fact, I’m guessing that where you see paint you see the hand of my father. That only scratches the surface of his efforts on behalf of his beloved church.

Dad also taught an adult Sunday School class for years—decades would be a more accurate description. His specialty was what might be called very slooowwww expository teaching, meaning that he sought to teach through books of the bible in a systematic, verse-by-verse manner. The only problem is that he proceeded at a pace that could only generously be termed snail-like.

Though he lacked formal theological training dad doled out Spirit-filled Biblical wisdom with the best of them, and tossed in a slew of humorous nuggets for good measure. Dad labored mightily to handle God’s Word with care. One enduring image singed into my memory is dad seated in his recliner, leaning forward hunched over a card table. He may have been grading papers, but as likely he was surrounded by stacks of notes, commentaries, bible dictionaries and theology books as he prepared his weekly lesson. He labored hard because he loved.

Dad also loved, served and provided for his family. Because dad was a teacher, Christmas break and summer were times for family vacations. Until later years, dad was always on the move and never one to enjoy relaxation and didn’t seem to much enjoy traveling. Nevertheless we visited Florida, the American West, New England, the East Coast and other locations. We were often pulling a camper and always on the move….go, go, go. Dad’s idea of a family vacation leaves me dizzy and faint when I think about it to this day. I’ll give you one brief glimpse inside a Dow “vacation.”

When I was 13, which was just a few years back, mom, dad and I traveled to Philadelphia to spend time with dad’s sister. After a week or so with Aunt Evelyn and Uncle Bob, who served as our unofficial tour guide, we departed one morning for Williamsburg, Virginia. Well, dad thought it would be a good idea for his son to see the nation’s capital. So after barreling down I-95 for about three hours we pulled into town and started walking. We proceeded to visit the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Air & Space Museum and Capitol. I think we may have also sprinted through the Supreme Court and National Archives but it is still something of a blur. For good measure, we took a tour of the White House and then drove another 6 hours to Williamsburg. All of this was a fairly typical lazy day on a Dow family vacation. Dad didn’t like to waste time.

Dad also took time for things like coaching my brother’s basketball team and showing me how to properly launch a two-handed set shot and shoot free-throws underhanded out in the driveway. Let it never be said of dad that he was huffing and puffing trying to keep up with the times. Dad was definitely old school in every way and I loved him loved him for it.

But I will be most grateful to my father for introducing me to Jesus. Dad was my first shepherd and showed me in word and deed the fatherhood of God. He taught me to be a Christian man. He taught me what it means to love my wife like Christ loves the church. He showed me how to raise my sons in the fear and instruction of the Lord without provoking them to anger. When I was in danger of straying, like my heavenly Father, he came to find me. He labored hard because he loved.

Dad was able to serve so many for at least two reasons: First, because his beloved wife was at his side. Lloyd loved Marilyn with all his heart and she graciously supported him for many years, allowing him to touch so many. Second, dad served because his faith was merely intellectual but an active faith incarnated and made alive by good works. His ethics and actions were primarily expressions of gratitude for the grace shown to him. If you loved my dad, what you really loved was Jesus working in and through him. If you loved my dad, I would plead for you to love and serve his God.

A cardiologist told me last week that dad had a weak heart. With all due respect to that doctor, his knowledge and the miraculous medical gizmos at his disposal, he had fundamentally misjudged and misdiagnosed my father. Dad had a mighty and joyous heart and it ceased beating, appropriately on Thanksgiving Day, because he had poured his life out as a drink offering to his Lord. He had presented his body as a sacrifice and simply had nothing left to give.

The passing of a loved one, the event we are marking today, is a stark reminder of an uncomfortable truth that we are inclined to avoid until it is impossible to look away. Unfortunately it is often only when staring into the face of death that clarity becomes possible. One truth we are acknowledging today is that we are all in Adam, and we all share in his curse. Because of our sin we are hurtling rapidly toward an eternal death, a death we have chosen and a death we deserve.

Scripture describes man as “dead” in trespasses and sins. We are, spiritually speaking, already corpses awaiting in history the finality of that inner reality.

But in God’s Word we find hope, life, joy, liberation and victory. The curse we share with Adam is overshadowed by the steadfast love of God. This love is not a concept or an abstraction but rather it is a person, a person who takes on flesh, blood and bone. In the brutality and suffering of His crucifixion, Christ took the curse upon Himself. In his resurrection He stood where Adam could not, crushing the head of the serpent and defeating sin and death. In His ascension to the right hand of the Father He began the process of reconquest, of restoring the creation, of reconciling all things to himself.

Because of these truths, Lloyd Dow lived his life with hope, but not a hope in his own righteousness. That could never be enough. Instead, his hope was in a righteousness outside of himself, a righteousness only found in his union with Christ. And though God has promised to put all things under the feet of His Anointed King, we see in this world of funeral homes and graveyards that the process is incomplete. Our bodies and the entire creation still groan and cry out from the corruption wrought by sin.

The hope for Lloyd Dow, and the only hope any of us can have, is something that happened in a graveyard in Palestine two-thousand years ago. The Scriptures call the resurrection a down-payment of Christian hope. The resurrection of Jesus guarantees that all who throw themselves on the mercy of God in Christ will share in this resurrection, they will conquer with Christ and His saints over death itself. This is the only hope for a man in the face of death.

Dad told me many times over the years that the one question he always asked perspective teachers was, “Who are your heroes?” For me that’s easy. There are countless men I love and admire; countless men who have taught me much. But it was my father who raised me; it was my father who held me in his arms, tucked me in at night, read me stories, taught me to serve others and daily showed me the grace of God. My hero was and always will be my dad.

As his health declined and death approached I know that dad was anticipating and longing for the resurrection of the body secured for him by Christ. Dad’s body ultimately failed him, a process that had been ongoing for many years. But he now has his rest and awaits a day when he will have a new, glorified, perfect body instead of a body wracked by diabetes and heart disease with nothing untouched by pain and decay. Dad’s mind, which had dulled in recent years, will be sharper than it ever was in life. His sense of humor, which so many of you loved, will be restored to perfection.

Like any child of God he longed to hear the words of Matthew 25:23, “‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”. We are here to affirm that Lloyd Dow led a good life, loved his students, church and family. But more than anything, he loved God. He ran the race well and persevered to the end by the grace of God. Though dad will be missed, he has entered into the joy of his master and for that we rejoice.