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May 25, 2007



The anti-civil rights movement also had a Christian backbone, much as the anti-immigration movement...

Nathan Smith

I don't know enough about the civil rights period to know. But from all that I've read from pundits and the press, I don't see any sign that the current anti-immigration movement "has a Christian backbone." The leading anti-immigrant pundits, people like John Derbyshire and Mickey Kaus, aren't Christians at all as far as I can tell. Certainly they're not vocal ones. Indeed, Derbyshire is interesting in that he writes for National Review, the bastion of journalistic conservatism and thus presumptively Christian, and yet he is an outspoken Darwinist. I haven't heard ANYBODY arguing against immigration reform *on Christian grounds.* Well, except Tom did dig up that one Utah weirdo... but that's a pretty obscure and marginal case, and it's the only example I've heard of where anyone draws a link between opposition to immigration and Christianity. I don't know what Tom is talking about.

Nathan Smith

I've never understood whether the KKK is supposed to be a Christian organization or not. What is the deal with burning crosses? It seems to be some sort of allusion to Christianity, but burning hardly seems to be a respectful way to treat a cross. It seems more like anti-Christian symbolism, to burn the major symbol of the religion... like flag-burning. Is that what they had in mind? That hardly seems possible... Of course, they're anti-Catholic too, and Catholics also use the cross as a religious symbol, maybe a bit more conspicuously... But I don't really get it.


I'm just saying, if the Republicans are the self-proclaimed party of faith (in Christ), then the whole party has a Christian backbone. The New Testament may not be xenophobic in any way, but that doesn't stop people from using the bible (usually Old Testament) or their faith in general to justify their less moral convictions.

Val Larsen

"Republicans are the self-proclaimed party of faith." Tom, can you cite someone who is an official Republican spokesman who says what you say Republicans self proclaim? It is true that religiousity is a strong predictor for preferring Republicans over Democrats, but that follows, I think, mostly from policy positions--not including immigration policy. From what I have seen, churches tend to be more sympathetic to illegal immigrants (unsurprisingly, since most count some number of illegal immigrants among their membership). Most religions are universalist (in the sense that they see all souls as equally valuable and equally subject to salvation). National boundary lines are quite irrelevant (except insofar as they are a hinderance) to churches' spiritual mission of saving souls.


'The Republican Party is the “party of god,” Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said Saturday at the state GOP convention.'

'Jerry Falwell, who founded the Moral Majority to elect Reagan on the Bible ticket, is one of the leaders of this Party of God movement.'

'It’s also interesting that even though the GOP has aggressively branded itself as the “Party of God,” the voters are moving in the other direction, despite American religiosity.'

'Vander Plaats said, "We have always had as our cornerstone that we are a party of faith..."'

'...the Republican Party is considered by many to be the party of faith.'

'The GOP can't afford to forsake its conservative base by running to the middle. It's time we let them know we are the party of faith...'

And so on and so forth. There are many comments from Republicans, both private citizens and elected officials, that make these sorts of claims. And there are many commentators on politics that also have pointed out that Republicans see themselves as belonging to the party of faith or party of God. Perhaps no official spokesman of the Republican establishment has been foolish enough to make such a claim, but that doesn't mean that the party in general doesn't stand by others who make such claims. It's fine if you want to claim that the pro-immigration movement is being driven by Christians, since it's true by default (the vast majority of Americans are Christian). But the anti-immigration movement is also being driver by Christians (also by default). I suppose Nathan and Val will point out that the pro-immigration movement has biblical support, but there are clearly others in the opposing movement that also use their faith to justify their position.

Nathan Smith

Well, Tom has dug around for quotes-- much appreciated!-- and come up with some interesting ones about the Republicans being the (self-appointed) party of God. Fair enough.

BUT the Republicans are a complex coalition, not just of people but of ideologies and lines of argument. It is possible to be a Republican and a Christian without being a Republican *because* you are a Christian. One might even be a Republican *despite* being a Christian, something like this: "I realize Jesus preached peace and helping the poor, and that's more the Democrats' line; but I keep my Christianity mostly to my private life, I think we need free-market policies, little or no welfare, and strong national security, even though even though it's difficult for me to reconcile that with my Christian belief." That's not quite my view, but I *would* say that my being generally supportive of Republicans has little to do with my belief in Christianity. If someone were to coin a slogan like "Jesus is a Republican," it seems to me a grotesque falsehood. ("Jesus is a Democrat" sounds less repugnant somehow.)

Applying this to immigration, you can be a Christian but oppose immigration for non-Christian reasons. No doubt "there are... others in the opposing [immigration] movement that... use their faith to justify their position" somewhere, but I am aware of no prominent ones. I would be interested to see someone try to justify opposition to immigration in Christian terms: it seems like a very difficult task.

People used to justify slavery by referring to the Old Testament, and they were on strong ground in a way since there certainly was slavery in the Old Testament, seemingly with some degree of (perhaps grudging) divine sanction, and practiced by some of the Bible's heroes.

Not immigration restrictions. The Jews were famously immigrants: a people led by the hand of God out of the land of Egypt into a land of milk and honey. It seems pretty impossible to reconcile the story of Exodus with the idea that people should stay in the land they were born into and not bother others. And it's the Old Testament villains, the Assyrian and Babylonian conquerors, who engage in mass deportation.

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