As the Senate passed an immigration bill this week, a bill which faces long odds in the House, I thought it would be appropriate to repost a portion of United Methodist Bishop Will Willimon‘s thoughts on immigration legislation.
Below is an excerpt of a letter he wrote to the Gov of Alabama 2 years ago in response to that state’s harsh immigration law. You can read about it here.
Will Willimon is no one’s definition of a liberal.
Here, his thoughts are challenging, nonpartisan…Christian.
We know that many…well-meaning individuals…are worried about employment in this fragile economy and some feel that the government is strained to pay for services like health care, police and fire protection, and education for those who may be here illegally.
As Christian ministers, however, we believe [anti-immigrant sentiment] contradicts the essential tenets of the Christian faith.
Scripture is filled with examples of God’s people wandering as “aliens and strangers.”
In the Old Testament, God reminds the people, “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt (Exodus 22:21).”
Jesus told parables about people like the Good Samaritan – someone who was not considered a true Jewish citizen – stopping to help a battered and beaten man while the leaders of the people passed him by.
And the apostle Paul taught us that in Christ there is “no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, but all are one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).”
We believe that God’s call for the United Methodist church is to be a church for ALL people, to be in ministry to ALL people. United Methodists welcome all people, regardless of immigration or citizenship status, to our churches, activities, and programs.
Many of our fastest growing churches are Spanish-speaking, and we do not check people’s immigration status at the door. In response to Jesus’ admonition in the parable of the Last Judgment to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, clothe the naked and welcome the stranger, many churches have ministries to care for those who are poor by providing them with food, shelter, and transportation.
Again, we do not check people’s immigration status before inviting them into our church vans and cars. We United Methodist clergy will continue to be in ministry to all people and we call on all United Methodists to do the same.