April 3, 2009
Earlier this week, I attended the book launch for Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion and Truth in the Immigration Debate. The book, which was co-written by World Relief staffers Jenny Hwang and Matthew Soerens, draws on the authors’ personal experiences working with immigrant communities and provides a faith-based perspective on the immigration debate.
World Relief is part of the National Association for Evangelicals (NAE) and, as such, uses biblical teachings as the moral foundation of its work. Thus, I was not surprised that the organization’s arguments about the proper treatment of immigrants paralleled many of CLINIC’s most basic values.
First, Christians have been called to care for immigrants under both Catholic and Evangelical traditions. God explicitly commands that “the alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt” (Lev. 19:33-34). Second, both faith traditions recognize that there is unity and solidarity under Christ. Per Galatians 3:28, divisions based on nationality, gender, and class are erased in God’s eyes because “you are all one in Christ Jesus.” And finally, Catholics and Evangelicals both acknowledge that all individuals, having been created by God in Christ’s image, have an inherent dignity that must be respected by both other people and the government.
Because we share these basic values, both Churches should be able to approach the many immigration-related challenges facing the United States under a common moral imperative. Although issues like family reunification, legalization, and worker visas tend to create controversy, we can explore them through the faith-based framework of service, inclusion, and dignity.
Laura Hill is a project assistant at Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)