September 2010 Church & State | AU Bulletin

Members of Congress debated what the Bible says about immigration during a recent House Judiciary Committee hearing.

The heated discussion came after remarks from three conservative Christian witnesses: Richard Land of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Gerald Kicanas of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Mat Staver of Liberty University.

The religious leaders argued for reform of immigration laws. But several House members shared their interpretation of the Bible as support for stricter enforcement of existing measures.

“The Bible contains numerous passages that support the rule of law,” said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas). “The scriptures clearly indicate that God charges civil authorities with preserving order, protecting citizens and punishing wrongdoers.”

Rep. Steven King (R-Iowa) took a similar view, rejecting the idea that the only “biblically acceptable option…seems to be open the borders.”

“I didn’t realize,” said King, “that the Bible barred the enforcement of immigration laws and neither did I realize that it erased borders, demanded pathways to citizenship for illegal immigrants, or…forbid the leaders of a nation from caring most about the well-being of its own citizens.”

Allie Bullard, writing for the Associated Baptist Press, said the members “cherry-picked [biblical] words and verses to serve their own political position” and used Scripture out of its intended context.”

“[Members of Congress] should stick to their own areas of expertise – public policy,” she said. “As a Christian, I expect respect for biblical teaching and scholarship and was appalled to see the scriptures used in a defensive and flippant way in an official congressional hearing.”