Immigration has been one of the most contentious political issues in our country this year. The House of Representatives and the Senate have approved bills that are so far apart that there is little chance for the bills to be reconciled. Recognizing the great impact of the immigration issue upon so many people's lives we are pleased to announce that Fred Tsao will be addressing this "hot topic" issue on our campus. On Thursday, October 19, at 7pm, he will be speaking on "Making Sense of the Immigration Debate" in the Armerding Lecture Hall. Mr. Tsao is the Policy Director for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights which works closely with World Relief. He is an expert on the policies dealing with immigration and will help us to think and act more clearly. To hone our Biblical thinking about immigration, I commend to you the Evangelical Free Church of America Declaration "A Stranger at Our Gates: A Christian Perspective on Immigration" (see below). It was unanimously adopted by the EFCA ten years ago at a time when immigration was, just like today, a hot topic. This lecture is part of our year long theme: "Environment, Economics and Equity."
This fall we are tackling some of the thorniest environmental issues. On October 31, Ann Alexander, from the Illinois State Attorney's Office will present three talks dealing with Christian perspectives on environment, governmental regulations and private property. That evening she will be joined by composer/musician Timothy Seaman. On November 1, Mr. Seaman will present his "celebration of creation" music in various venues on campus.
Global warming demands a thoughtful and urgent response from Christians. We have convened an impressive panel for our November 13 event "Global Climate Change: A Faithful Response" to contribute to that response. The panelists include our college president, Duane Litfin, climatologist Douglas Allen from Dordt College, and three of our own professors with great expertise in the field: Drs. Kristen Page, P.J. Hill, and Noah Toly. The panel will be moderated by Dr. Greta Bryson.
We are most pleased to have Drs. David and Kaswera Kasali on campus for the Christian Moral Formation Series, November 6-8. They will bring to us their vast international insights on becoming more complete disciples of Jesus Christ.
Join us for as many events as you can (in person or on the web).
Director of CACE
"Making Sense of the Immigration Debate"
Thursday, October 19, 7:00 pm, Armerding Lecture Hall
Fred Tsao is the Policy Director at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.
Ann Alexander, Illinois State's Attorney's Office
Tuesday, October 31
Ann will be coming to campus for 2 events open to the public. You are welcome to join us for lunch at 12:15 pm with the Science Division and a lecture at 3:30pm in Armerding Lecture Hall.
Tuesday, October 31
A new informal event geared toward Wheaton College students and faculty featuring music, lecture and Fair Trade Coffee, Tea and Dessert. October 31 will feature Tim Seaman, singer/songwriter and Ann Alexander will answer your questions on "Bad Energy: How US Energy Policy Harms Urban Health" This event is co-sponsored with the Urban Studies Department.
Wheaton Lecture in Christian Moral Formation
November 6-8, 2006, 7 pm each evening, Barrows Auditorium
This three-day event features Drs. David and Kaswera Kasali. They are the directors of Congo Initiative which strives to model, nurture and shape authentic redemptive communities of Christ followers whose calling is to transform society in Congo. David Kasali is the past president of the Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology. These events are free and open to the public.
"Global Climate Change: A Faithful Response"
Monday, November 13, 7 - 9 pm, Barrows Auditorium
The panelists include our college president, Duane Litfin, climatologist Douglas Allen from Dordt College, and three of our own professors with great expertise in the field: Drs. Kristen Page, P.J. Hill, and Noah Toly. The panel will be moderated by Dr. Greta Bryson. This event is co-sponsored with the Wheaton College Science Division and is free and open to the public.
New for 2006: CACE Ethical Issues - Immigration
A Stranger at Our Gates:
A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE ON IMMIGRATION
Resolution adopted at General Conference, 1996
The Evangelical Free Church of America
During periods of rapid change and economic uncertainty, it is often the vulnerable and marginalized people who are blamed for the misfortune that everyone else experiences or expects to experience. Today a significant amount of attention and blame for a perceived threat to the American way of life is being directed at immigrants. As Christians, we must ensure that our response to the issue of immigration is directed by a world view that is shaped by biblical principles rather than secular rhetoric.
A number of themes relevant to immigration run through the Bible. The first theme is that we ourselves,as Christians, are aliens on this earth. “...And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth” (Heb. 11:13). Our status as aliens and strangers forms the basis for our attitudes and responses towards those people who live outside our society.
A second theme is that our material possessions do not really belong to us. The Promised Land belonged to the Israelites only in the sense that as host, God allowed the Israelites to dwell in the Promised Land as His guests (Lev. 25:23). Similarly, as aliens and strangers in the world, the material resources of the world do not belong to us. We have what we have because God, as host, has distributed material resources to us, His guests. As recipients of God's graciousness and generosity, we need to guard against selfishness and possessiveness which would cloud our attitude toward immigrants.
A third theme is protection for the alien. As non-citizens working in their country of residence, aliens exist outside the social and political network of the society they are residing in; thus, they are rendered powerless. Aliens are very vulnerable to exploitation. As Christians, we should recall our roots as aliens and, thus, identify with their plight (Ex. 23:9).
A fourth theme is that, for Christians, no one is ever to really be considered an outsider. “...The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself...” (Lev. 19:33-34). The Great Commandment is to apply to the alien, because he or she is our neighbor.
A fifth theme is that, in serving the outsiders of society, we encounter Jesus. Because Christ identified with the stranger, we are to extend the same treatment to the alien and stranger that we would extend toward Jesus (Matt. 25:35).
Historically, immigration policies of the United States appear to be directed more by racism and economic self-interest than compassion. Immigration quotas favored people groups already established in the United States (western and northern Europe) while limiting immigrants from Asia and Africa.1 Sometimes certain people groups were allowed to immigrate only when they were needed as menial labor for a specific task, e.g., Chinese railroad builders. Today immigration policy favors those who bring technical expertise or financial resources with them.2
The present debate over immigration policy and immigrants is often based on stereotypical falsehoods. Immigrants do not displace American workers. They usually fill a shortage of skilled labor or do the menial task that citizens refuse to do.3 Immigrants’ rate of employment is higher than the general population, and they work longer hours.4 They receive less general assistance than the general population.5 Immigrants pay more in taxes than the social services they receive.6 The reason state governments are financially burdened by immigrants is that only one-third of the federal income tax paid by immigrants is returned to the state governments who provide public services such as education and emergency medical care.7
As we engage in our society's debate on immigration through forums such as the voting booth, community discussion groups, political parties and church in light of the preceding discussion, we need to raise the following issues:
A. To what extent are our attitudes towards immigration shaped by racism? To what extent do we assume that American culture is identified with northern and western European culture; and are we attempting to protect those cultural roots of America from corruption by “foreign” cultures? Are we afraid that this existing cultural dominance will be overcome by the “strangeness” of strangers? Are we denying that other cultures bring gifts that add to rather than detract from our society's culture?
Does our cultural identity take precedence over our Christian identity so that we fail to recognize that we are fellow aliens with these immigrants?
B. To what extent are our attitudes towards immigrants shaped by materialism? As aliens and strangers in this world, what is the theological basis for acting as though America were our property and we can hence deny access to it? Are we being overly possessive of our lifestyle or standard of living?
C. Is the fear of running out of limited resources justifiable? How can we say that there is not enough to go around in America? Are we more concerned with the pursuit of affluence than meeting the basic human needs of all human beings?
D. What are the implications of Proposition 187-type legislation (as in the state of California)? Does denying or reducing “safety net” and other public benefits to illegal immigrants and their American-born
children imply that in our society some groups of people are not regarded as being equally
human as others even though they participate in the economic functioning of our society? Are some groups of people not deemed worthy to receive the minimal goods and services we consider essential for a very basic level of human existence?
E. What about immigration policy? To what extent are we responsible for the living conditions in other countries that motivate people to emigrate? Do the policies of the U.S. government and the U.S. trans-national companies contribute to pressures on people to emigrate to the U.S.? Does an immigration policy that favors the immigration of highly skilled people drain other countries of the skills necessary to improve their standard of living and hence reduce the pressure to emigrate to America?
As evangelicals, we are called by God to aid the vulnerable. Therefore, we must see the alien and the stranger as individuals made in the image of God, the object of Christ's love and as people of intrinsic worth who are in need of our affirmation and support.
1Tim Stafford, “Here Comes the World,” Christianity Today, (May 15, 1995), 20.
2Diane Drachman, “Immigration Statuses and Their Influence on Service Provision, Access and Use,” Social Work
40, no. 2 (March 1995), 190.
4Frank Sharry, “Myths, Realities, and Solutions,” Spectrum: The Journal of State Government 67, no. 1 (Winter