Roiling With Sin In Arizona

Allison Johnson, campaign coordinator for Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, says it better than I ever could. From SojoMail/Sojourners community, an evangelical social justice ministry, April 22, 2010:

“In Arizona, the harshest piece of anti-immigrant legislation in the country sits on the desk of the governor, awaiting her decision whether to sign it into law. This controversial bill would wreak havoc on the Latino community of Arizona by requiring law enforcement officials to question people about their immigration status if there is “reasonable suspicion” that the person might be undocumented.

The law is a recipe for racial profiling, distracts police from focusing on crime, and will breed a dangerous distrust between the Latino community and law enforcement – making witnesses and victims of violent crimes afraid to speak to police. Our nation and neighborhoods are still recovering from a similar distrust in the African-American community that was birthed out of the Jim Crow era, and we can’t allow such fear to be fostered by law again anywhere in our country.

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.” (SojoMail, 4/22/10)

Thank you, Sojourners, and God bless you, Ms. Johnson. This law is a despicable piece of slime masquerading as “immigration reform,” and I say this as someone who immersed herself in ministry to undocumented immigrants for more than a decade, from January 1990 ’til the end of 2001. I did things that under this bill would be illegal, and I would do every single one of them again in a heartbeat. In Arizona. With gratitude to God for the privilege of serving him in it all.

Dale Courtney and his pals might consider Christian service to be best accomplished by guffawing over nakedly hostile “satires” against immigrants. The Arizona State Legislature might consider their work a valuable weapon in the arsenal against lawlessness. But those who love freedom and justice, not to mention logic and rationality, ought to shudder, and Christians can only be profoundly grieved that an entire people group in our country would now be subject to the grossest abuse of their basic rights, and often in the name of our Savior.

This is hatred of which the Church must repent. The Legislature in Arizona isn’t, of course, the Church of the Lord Jesus. But that Church has too often joined, heart and hand, with those people and institutions who desire to harm Christ’s own people, and if his Church accommodates this law in any way, if it is signed by the governor, it will commit a grave sin. Because the State might outlaw ministry to “the least of these,” as Wallis rightly points out, but the Church can never acquiesce to laws that strike at the heart of the Gospel.

I ministered passionately, boldly, and publicly, and I would do it again, every part of it, should the Lord lead me. May thousands of saints in Arizona insist that for their part, they can only serve the Lord, and may we all pray that this bill languishes unsigned on the desk of Arizona’s governor, and the stupidity and hate behind it withers under the Light of Christ’s Gospel.

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