Saturday, January 31, 2015

Immigration: a Lutheran Perspective

Immigration reform continues to be a hot-button issue in many
segments of our society, so I was particularly gratified to find
an article on the subject in the latest issue of our denominational
publication, The Lutheran. Written by Jose David Rodriquez, a
professor of global mission and world Christianity at the Lutheran
School of theology in Chicago, the article includes the following
information (which I quote):

On Nov.14, 2009, the ELCA Church Council approved a social
policy resolution regarding immigration, "Toward Compassionate,
Just, and Wise Immigration Reform". The text reflects the rich
legacy of the Lutheran church's concern for the neighbor, 
particularly the uprooted, the alien, and the stranger. The biblical
and theological donations for the resolution lie in core
commitments based on hospitality for the displaced as a means
to practice the gospel's call to live our neighbor in response to 
God's love in Christ.

Rodriquez goes on to say that, following President Barack
Obama's address to the nation on immigration in Nov. 2014,
the ELCA Conference of Bishops stated: "As people of faith and
leaders of the church, we support public policy that protects
children, reunites families, and cares for the most vulnerable,
regardless of their place of birth."

And then he includes these prophetic words of Bishop Wayne
Miller of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod which, Rodriquez affirms,
capture "in a significant way the relevance of solid theological
foundations for addressing the challenge of immigration reform
today from a Lutheran perspective":
     I believe the time has come, perhaps in a special way for us 
as Lutheran Christians, to reassert the fact that our attitudes
toward the stranger, and toward all who are vulnerable or
marginalized, are a matter of primary confessional theology
rather than being a question elective etiquette...In a growing 
number of states, anti-immigration legislation...and the way
[laws] are being enforced, have created a condition of persecution...
These laws now represent a denial of the Cross and the gospel 
of universal freedom for vocation, and, thereby, drive the issue, 
for Lutherans, toward Status Confessionis (be in a state of confession),
meaning that silence, compliance, and indifference become apostasy.

All of which is saying that, for those of us who sit at the table
marked "Lutheran", the failure to speak out on issues of justice is
simply- and uncomfortably- not acceptable, is a denial of our
professed commitment to LIVING OUT the welcoming, accepting,
grace-filled love of God shown to us in Jesus the Christ.

And, in spite of my lengthy love-hate relationship with organized
religion, this is one of the reasons I am still a Lutheran. Here I stand.
I  cannot do otherwise.

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