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So…I was Right

I rarely get to gloat on this blog. Most of the time I have to shrug and then be sad, but this time I get to claim a victory though pyrrhic as it may be. Last week’s post concerned my analysis of a passages from the bible regarding how to treat immigrants, concluding that the Bible is pretty clear about how that should be undertaken, which is with welcoming kindness. I wondered at how the religious right, who are pretty uniformly in favor of keeping the Muslims out could rectify their position with the position of their book. In short, immigration/immigrants/strangers in your land are mentioned an astonishing 53 times in the bible. I found 11 times, they were the most explicit and obvious times that it was mentioned, and I highlighted these passages because they were pretty explicit about their point. General translation problems aside there’s not wiggle room for what is meant by the spirit of the law because it aligns with the letter of the law pretty well. It’s also important to note that this is one of few subjects the Bible addresses that is both a moral principle and consistent.

My point last week was that you can’t maintain a devotion to Christian principles laid forth by the holy book and be for this ban. If a person does, it means that they are either ignorant of what the book says or they are just picking and choosing the principles they will adhere to in accordance with some other higher principle that appeals to them more. I was essentially saying, I’ve read your book it says X but you’re doing Y–so which is it: ignorance or selective adherence? If it’s the former then the problem should have gone away as the reader now knows the book is against banning immigrants. If they now know and continue to support the ban then it’s the latter.

I was raised Catholic, know a great deal of what is actually in the Bible, but sometimes my interpretation is wrong. I get that, but in this case I looked for passages that condemned immigration and could only find one veiled reference to it, which had to do more with unbelievers than it had to do with immigrants. One could argue context here. Old Testament god is a tribal god, and the Bible makes reference to all of the other gods being identified with different tribes, so therefore “a stranger” might well be someone who believes in a different god. It’s a twisted form of argument, but it wouldn’t apply to Muslims anyway. See Muslims believe in the same god as the Christians they just have a different prophet and they don’t believe Jesus was the son of god. Having read about half of the Quran, I can assure you it’s the same deity. All of the Old Testament heroes are there, the same stories are recounted–in some cases with more detail than the Old Testament itself and in some cases less. None of that matters because the OT and Quran are clearly talking about the same being. On average the Muslim and the Christian have the same belief at the top of the list it’s just some different details and practices which separate them. When the Bible talks about non-believers, it’s talking about different gods entirely not just a different name for the same god. I’m more applicable to the “run them out of town” and “kill them with great destruction.” All of this comes from Deuteronomy 7:1-10, and this is me being generous because the “word of god” here is specific about who the people are: people that the Israelites invaded. So unless the Christians are going to invade these Muslim countries they really can’t apply this passage to the current ban.

(In full disclosure there’s also a different passage in Numbers about killing strangers as well; 1:51, 3:10, 3:38, 18:7. Again this is context specific and refers to allowing unbelievers to approach the tabernacle. So unless one believes that the Muslim refugees are going to start going to church then it’s not applicable. I’ve also been in one of these Mega Churches the Christian Right loves so much and there’s nothing there which could be loosely defined as a “tabernacle.”)

Then mid-last week, I found out that I was not alone in my interpretation. Sure the Atheists are, in general, against the ban. For the simple reason that it’s religious discrimination. The Muslim groups are against it for obvious reasons. The Jewish groups are against it because they’ve seen this kind of thing before. By mid-week though I found out that the major Christian groups in the US were also against it. This includes the Catholic Church, The Mormon Church, and the Southern Baptist Convention all expressed encouragement to their followers to help with the resettlement of refugees and to express the love and compassion of these people as children made in god’s image. The latter two groups expressed that there be the checking of individuals, which already occurs, but decried the blanket ban. The Mormon statement was explicit about condemning the condemnation of entire groups of people in agreement with the Catholic statement.

Basically, what this means as that three major groups for which I share profound disagreements with all looked at the same Executive Order and said that this is wrong. I know that this agreement between all the major religious organizations and myself is going to do little to sway high Trump devotees scoring high on the RWA scale, but it’s worth pointing out. I’ve seen some interesting hoop jumping to try and rectify this: from claiming that it’s not a Muslim ban even though his campaign website explicitly called it that (but at least he’s keeping his promises) to some calls that the 53 passages don’t actually mean what I, and other Christians, say they mean. If the supporters just said, I support the ban because I’m afraid of Muslim immigrants damn what my religion says, it would at least be honest. Instead they are trying to have the moral high ground of being religious while at the same time being complete and utter hypocrites about it.

 

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