Seeking truth about immigration controversy

Members of Morgan Hill’s Advent Lutheran Church participated in a five-week course seeking a Christian perspective on the immigration controversy in the United States.

Immigration is a topic of heated discussion in the United States. The current presidential campaign has provoked fear, distortions, outrage and scary stories; a case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court seeks to resolve how much control states can have over non-citizens living within their borders.
Recognizing the heated controversy over this issue, Morgan Hill’s Advent Lutheran Church recently offered a class dealing with this important topic. According to Pastor Anita Warner, the aim was to discern “how God is calling us through biblical witness, immigration stories of our families and the stories of today’s immigrants to this country.”
Facilitator of the five-week class, which met between worship services each Sunday, was the Rev. Lee Tyler, Advent’s Parish Associate. Some 50 youth and adult members of the congregation participated.
Session one defined relevant terms like “refugee,” “immigrant,” “asylum seeker” and “undocumented person.” On a timeline listing U.S. immigration laws, those in attendance filled in when they or a family member came to the United States, then talked about their experiences.
Session two delved into the Bible for passages dealing with immigration, a common theme. Three of the many references were particularly appropriate:
– The passage in Matthew (2:13-15) where the Holy Family fled to Egypt to save the Baby Jesus from death at the hand of Herod’s soldiers.
– The passage in Hebrews (13:2) where the reader is commanded to show hospitality to strangers.
– The section in Leviticus (19:33-34) stating that aliens living in the land should be treated with love and not oppression.
Session three sought to explore the “human face of immigration” through watching “Dying to Live,” a documentary furnished by Sister Pat Davis of Morgan Hill’s Learning and Loving Education Center. The film explores stories of individual men and women who risked everything to flee Mexico for a better life in the United States and an opportunity to work toward the American Dream.
The Rev. Deborah Lee, a United Church of Christ minister who is director of the Interfaith Coalition of Human Rights, addressed session four. This Oakland-based nonprofit organization was established in 1993 in the wake of passage of Proposition 187, California’s attempt to control immigration (later struck down by the courts). She shared her experiences in advocating for full inclusion of all California residents, regardless of citizenship status.
Session five discussed formulating a Christian response to the immigration issue, sharing documents issued by faith leaders who have spoken out on the topic. Many clergy feel that governments have a right to enforce borders, but that Christians have a duty to protest against unjust laws and protect those whose human rights are in danger.  
“Immigration: A Faithful Discussion” provided a safe opportunity for conversations about this difficult issue, allowing participants to come to their own conclusions about how our country should treat “the strangers in our midst.” For more information about this issue, call Advent at (408) 779-3551 or read “Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church, and the Bible,” by M. Daniel Carroll, which provides biblical and ethical guidance for readers who are looking for a Christian perspective on the immigration issue.
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