The United States is engaged in a public conversation about what our responsibility is to the thousands of unaccompanied migrant children who are arriving at our southern border. In the story of Ruth we encounter principles of radical hospitality that reshape the debate.
. . . Pastors and church-leaders for the past two years have been very vocal in their efforts to ‘welcome the stranger’ through immigration reform and in so doing are reframing evangelical Christian concerns beyond the rote of life-issues. . . . Though evangelical leaders have pushed for reform, this hasn’t yet filtered down to evangelical congregations who are amongst the most skeptical of CIR. The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) noted in 2013 that white evangelical Protestants were the least likely of all religious groups to support a path to citizenship for illegal migrants.
The first reaction of the reader to Abram’s calling, “That’s supposed to be me,” gives way to the second realization, which is “That COULD be me.” And it is in imagining the fear and anxiety normally attendant to leaving everyone and everything behind that the seed is planted in the reader’s heart for concern for real-life strangers.
In the public debate surrounding the U.S. Senate’s bill proposing the reform of the immigration system, and now the House of Representatives’ efforts to craft its own bill, one is bound to encounter the argument that falls under the label of “enforcement first.” The argument goes that before the illegal immigrants who are already present in the U.S. gain any sort of legal status, we must first put in place measures that will ensure that in the future, further illegal immigrants do not enter the country in the hopes of an inevitable legalization process at some point in the future. This argument is flawed, and if it were put into practice would prove costly and harmful to immigrants without solving the illegal immigration problem.
The Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study hosted a conference at the beginning of this month on Theology and Black Politics. Opening with the question: “What is the Black Church?”, the conference addressed fundamental concerns regarding the nature of black politics and theology.
1) What inspired you to write Asylum-Seeking, Migration and Church? When I was training for ordination in Birmingham in 2004, I started to volunteer with church-based organizations supporting asylum seekers. As a result of the UK government’s asylum seeker dispersal program, many newcomers were being housed in Birmingham while they waited for decisions on their cases. Churches were offering considerable practical and spiritual support and I was both impressed and intrigued. I wondered: why are they so engaged with migrants and are they—are we—doing a good job? Perhaps even more importantly, I started getting to know a few people who were seeking refuge, a number of whom have allowed me to share their stories in the book. The book was inspired by and is written for them—for Annette, Hassan, Fatima—people who have experienced pain and joy, shown extraordinary courage, and offered me friendship…
The record number of deportations under the Obama administration and the shift in enforcement strategy from worksite raids to isolated, yet more numerous, detentions is a symptom of a crisis faced by the modern state in an increasingly globalized economy. The state seeks to hide the coercion used to sustain the social imaginary now threatened by a changing world.
Although often lost in a generic celebration of the giving of the Spirit, this text is one that is filled with questions of ethnicity, language, and diversity. It speaks to the American debate of whether this nation can or should be a melting pot that blends and ignores culture and ethnicity or a mosaic and celebration of the diversity that exists in our midst. But first, some background:
The editors of Political Theology are pleased to announce that the latest issue is now available on the web. Issue 12.6 (December 2011) carries a special section devoted to issues of migration and asylum, and features a guest editorial on ‘Migration as a Challenge for Theological Ethics’ by David Hollenbach, SJ, who holds the University Chair in Human Rights and International Justice at Boston College. This is followed by three related articles by Elena Namli, from Uppsala University, Sweden; Mark W. Potter, who is the Provincial Assistant for Social Ministries of the California Province of the Society of Jesus; and Anna F. Rowlands from the Margaret Beaufort Institute, University of Cambridge. The editorial and review open access. The full table of contents appears below:
Kahn assumes the United States, as a state, to be a ‘norm’ and does not seem to grapple with anything or anyone external to it: his focus is internal. I would like to suggest that immigrants have been constructed as the quintessential exception – an exception made on the basis of nationalism rather than liberal political theory, though – and that this is generating the kinds of restrictive immigration legislation… Would-be-immigrants are dealt with outside the nation (offshore processing) or hidden within it (detention), preventing their access to legal ‘norms’ available to citizens.