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Progressive Evangelicals, Illegal Aliens Are Not “Refugees”

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In recent years, a group of religious trailblazers, progressive evangelicals, has led the masses of Christendom into mass confusion. They wave the banner of “compassion,” but in their march, they’re leading an expedition towards mass immigration and a morphed understanding of “refugee.” The Bible’s “sojourners” and “foreigners”—traditionally respected as law-abiding, integrated individuals—are being twisted into a representation of today’s illegal immigrants. This tangled weaving of biblical teachings sows discord, not unity, revealing a concerning detour from the faithful path within the evangelical community.

One of the subversive tactics of the progressive movement is to redefine what it means to be a refugee. Under U.S. law, one is afforded refugee status if it has been determined that a person has a “well-founded fear of persecution” for one of many reasons including race, membership in a particular social group, political opinion, religion, or national origin. Historically, this would include people fleeing a country due to religious wars or widespread violence against one of these particular groups.

Yet, the left—which is determined to increase immigration at any cost for the purpose of changing the voting demographics in the country to more Democratic—has decided to redefine “refugee” to include almost anyone entering the country illegally for any reason.

What’s worse, though, is that mainstream Evangelicalism has adopted the same mindset and used it to guilt Christians into supporting lax borders policies and various levels of amnesty for those who’ve arrived or remain here illegally. In a recent debate at The Gospel Coalition with Scott Klusendorf, Karen Swallow Prior, a Southeastern Seminary professor, argued that being truly pro-life encompassed caring for “refugees.”

I do think it is more again, our posture, our heart attitude, our rhetoric toward other issues that involve not just quality of life, that actual literal lives that are in danger, whether it’s refugees, whether it’s black lives, whether it’s anyone who’s oppressed, I think that is the heart of it.

In a recent controversial letter to Congress, Brent Leatherwood, the current head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), is using his influential position to propagate a progressive interpretation of Christianity that advocates for mass immigration. Leatherwood, at odds with the majority views within the rank-and-file denomination, seeks to redefine what it means to be a “refugee” in a way that could potentially open the floodgates for more illegal aliens to enter the country.

His strategy fundamentally involves exploiting the biblical teachings on “sojourners” or “foreigners”, thereby oversimplifying a complex issue. Leatherwood neglects the context of these Biblical terms which referred to people who had legally integrated into the society respecting its laws and customs, unlike today’s mass illegal immigrants who seek to exploit our welfare system. This warped perspective not only diverges from the conservative views prevalent within the Southern Baptist community but also misinterprets the Bible’s teachings, essentially confusing the mandate for compassion with an endorsement of open-border policies.

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Further, Alan Cross, a far-left open borders advocate writing for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), wrote that “For American Christians, the global refugee crisis and presence of vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers at our southern border provides us an opportunity to transcend political and cultural controversies in order to minister and love in the name of Jesus.”

The problem with this reasoning is that these people are not refugees, they are criminals who are taking advantage of a criminal United States president who refuses to follow the law in enforcing border security. Previously, refugee status was only afforded to those who were in actual, serious immediate danger of the kind of life-ending persecution. Today, progressives want to redefine the word and afford refugee status to anyone from any country for no other reason than to seek a better quality of life—and typically, this includes those coming to the country to take advantage of our already maxed out welfare system.

Cross goes on, quoting Leviticus 19:33-34 to argue that we should treat these people like native-borns—a command God gave to the nation of Israel in how to treat legal foreigners residing in the nation, not illegal invaders exploiting Israel’s political system. Cross then attempts to use the parable of the Good Samaritan to make this case, equating to our border crisis. But Samaria was nationally and historically part of Israel and, obviously, this parable has absolutely nothing to do with flooding Israel’s borders with illegal immigrants, again, seeking to exploit their political system.

The passage in Leviticus is not a command to the nation of Israel to open its borders to whoever it chooses, it is a command to individual Israelites to treat legal immigrants the same way they would their own people.

Cross’s argument is, essentially, that opening the borders to “refugees”—which are really just illegal immigrants seeking to exploit our welfare system for the most part—is an opportunity to welcome these criminals into our communities all over the nation and witness to them.

These people act like there’s nobody to witness to in this country already. Are they really lacking in pagans to preach the gospel to? They need to all travel to the southern border and take Jesus to these people, while people within a mile of their own house are dying and going to hell? There is a motivation here beyond wanting to see people saved. If that weren’t the case they would be preaching to the people in their own community.

Of course, we should want to preach the gospel to everybody, including anybody coming over the border, even illegally. But if it’s going to be done at all it should be done with the realization that we are dealing with not only sinners but lawbreakers. There is no biblical principle for Christians to adhere to that dictates that they are to desire that the civil government have open borders.

In other words, Christians shouldn’t be welcoming illegal immigrants across the border illegally—and certainly should not be adopting the term “refugee” to refer to them. This only serves to weaken our gospel witness as we seek to affirm those who are breaking the law. We should be willing to give them the gospel, which starts with repentance from sin, which in their case includes the violation of a sovereign international border.

No sovereign nation is obligated to allow anybody, including refugees, onto its soil or into its citizenry and there is no biblical or practical principle that states otherwise. If any country allows anybody to immigrate within its midst, it is a grace and a privilege extended. Not a right granted.

Once again, this is feel-good human religion, virtue-signaling. “I’m a good person because I take care of immigrant refugees.” But, they are not refugees, they are criminals.


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