In using the term Christian perspective, I do not refer to the attitude promulgated by the evangelical branch of Christianity that has tried to appropriate the term Christian for two generations now--unsuccessfully as far as I am concerned. As Christians, we need to inform our attitudes on all subjects by attempting to imitate Christ.
From that idea came the useful question: What would Jesus do? And we need not strain our brains to understand that Jesus took people in, rather than sending them away. The Christian attitude towards anyone who wants to come to this country, from border-crossers to refugees to ordinary people looking for the American Dream, should be to move over and make room for them. There is no justification in Christianity for the harsh, "Kick 'em all out" positions that people maintain while they call themselves Christians.
The Teabagger base of the Republican Party bit Governor Rick Perry's head off when he tried to be inclusive during the recent party primaries, and we saw today how Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, flip-flopped on his previously-inclusive attitude as he positions himself for a presidential campaign. Bush knows that he will be pilloried by other GOP candidates if he stays friendly towards immigrants--not to mention the sick anti-Muslim community.
Many of the people who are seeking refuge in the United States have suffered things that we as residents of this continent cannot even imagine. It is in the worst possible taste, to say the least, to accuse immigrants of coming to America for welfare and food stamps and then to idolize corporate CEOs who stash millions and billions in Switzerland or the Cayman Islands (yeah, I'm talkin' to you, Romney).
Perhaps you don't believe me. In that case, I suggest that you call the Tucson Iskashitaa refugee organization (see below) and attend one of their volunteer training sessions. Your experience of planning for an imaginary run for safety when confronted with an invasion will change you forever, trust me. Or don't; just call and go to the training. Ask them about their personal experience before they got here...if you dare.
By the way, one of the requirements for the program is that the participants be self-supporting. They also place their children in school and learn English.
But from the point of view that I am writing about, immigrants should not be put on the carpet in front of the American people and asked of they "earned it." As Christians, we have always been taught that we did not, and cannot earn the greatest gift of all: our salvation, which was a free gift from God through grace. St. Paul says:
"Well, then, are we better off? Not entirely, for we have already declared against Jews and [gentiles] alike that they are all under the condemnation of being sinful, as it is written: 'There is no one who is righteous, not one, there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.
"'All have gone astray; all are worthless equally; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open tombs; they deceive with their speech; the venom of vipers is on their lips; their mouths are full of bitter curses.
"'They are eager to shed blood; ruin and misery are in their ways and they know not the ways of peace. There is no fear of God in their hearts.'
"Now we know that what the Law says is addressed to those under the Law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world stand accountable to God, since no human being can be justified in his sight by observing the Law; for through the Law comes consciousness of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been confirmed apart from the Law, though testified to by the Law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
"They are justified freely by his grace through redemption in Christ Jesus, whom God sent as an expiation, through faith, by his blood, to prove his righteousness because he forgave sins previously committed, through his forbearance, to prove his righteousness in the present time, that God might be righteous and justify the one who has faith in Jesus.
"What occasion is there then for boasting? It is impossible. On what principle, that of works? No, rather on the principle of faith. For we consider that a person is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.
"Does God belong to Jews alone? Does he not belong to Gentiles, too? Yes, also to Gentiles, for God is one and will justify the circumcised on the basis of faith and the uncircumcised through faith." [Romans 3:9-30]
If the shoe fits, wear it; and worry. This stunning passage states clearly that no one deserves to be saved through the life and death of Jesus, nor can we ever make ourselves worthy of salvation. We, as Christians, inherit the God Jehovah as our Father, and we believe that God is perfect, absolute lawful good. But if he is, he is so far above us as to be unapproachable, for most of what we do must be abhorrent to him.
But that is the Jewish existential dilemma, not ours. Christians believe that our intermediary was Jesus, who knew us from the inside because he was one of us, completely and without special favors. He knew what it is like to be a human being, and his consciousness of God's perfect love impelled him to share with us his knowledge of that perfect love.
But that comes at a price: the price that we must pay for receiving God's perfect love is to pass it on to the rest of the world. We show our Christian appreciation and gratitude simply by loving, and that is our moral imperative. If any of us take our orders seriously, we cannot maintain a harsh attitude towards people who come to us as underdogs seeking equality.
Which of your ancestors first came to America? On my father's side they came on the first English ship to follow the Mayflower, but on my mother's side her father came from the Old Country, Poland. Immigrants like Cesar Millan and the living legend Dr. Pol up in Michigan have enriched our nation beyond anything we could pay back. And there are millions of immigrants who want to come out of the shadows and prepare themselves to cure cancer (or the common cold) or AIDS, or to find the formula for clean nuclear power, or to revolutionize the American system of education.
How can we not understand that it isn't pure altruism that prompts us to welcome newcomers, no matter where they came from? But it is from altruism that Christianity commands us to be Christlike in the way we treat them. We cannot afford to ignore this; rejection is a slippery slope that will make monsters out of us.
For more info: find Iskashitaa at http://www.iskashitaa.org/
Learn more about Dr. Pol by watching The Incredible Dr. Pol on National Geographic Wild.
Cesar Millan is, of course, the living-legend Dog Whisperer.