Immigration law to be determined by Bible verses?!

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Yesterday, Bible verses were tossed around like so many Frisbees during a meeting of the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law (phew!). The subject was, of course, immigration reform, and the thrust of the meeting dealt with religious teachings and what they have to say about the topic. It was quite a theological battle, with some unexpected twists.

Richard Land, of the Southern Baptist Convention — not usually associated with liberal causes, to put it mildly — said, in so many words, that the Bible demands an immigration reform bill that would include a guest-worker program. Land quoted Matthew on helping out “the least of these among us”; Liviticus,  on the moral need to care for ‘the strangers who reside in our land”; and Micah, on the need to act justly and mercifully.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), though, quoted Romans — "Let every person be subject to governing authorities” — saying that the verse means we should have stricter border security and strict enforcement of immigration laws (exactly what St. Paul meant when he wrote that letter to the Romans, I bet). “The Bible contains numerous passages that support the rule of law," said Smith. The congressman even shot down Land’s Matthew quote about caring “for the least of these,” saying that the verse "advocates individual acts of kindness (but) does not mandate a public policy."

Well, no shit, Sherlock. The Bible, in fact, says nothing about public policy at all — especially not public policy 20 centuries into the future. The fact that Bible verses are being quoted, no matter if it’s by the left, right, or middle, to establish public policy is ridiculous; and considering that here we are in the year 2010, it’s frankly unbelievable. It makes sense that advocates for or against one cause or another could gain inspiration and beliefs from Bible passages, but to expect lawmakers in what is supposed to be a secular, non-theocratic, nation to use your favorite Bible verses to determine policy is ... it’s hard to even find the right word, so let’s settle for ludicrous. Now, readers, let us pray. Dear God, please help these people get a friggin’ grip. Amen.

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