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Love him as yourself

Lately I've been following the Tea Party Jesus tumblelog that (from an obviously politically liberal point of view) puts the "words of Christians in the mouth of Christ" by inserting quotes from Christians into cartoons of Jesus as commentary on the non-Christ-like things that Christians sometimes say.  On the blog you can "[c]lick each picture to find out who really said it."  The last two have been related to immigration: link and link.

As pointed out today by Andrew Sullivan...

In the context of discussions about the morality of homosexual relationships, gay marriage, etc., Christians commonly cite passages from Leviticus like Lev. 18:22 and Lev. 20:13.  However, those aren't the only OT passages that may have some relevance to current topics of political discussion:

Leviticus 19:33-34 (NIV)

When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt.

See also:

I would not argue that the most prudent policies of our country on either of these complex issues are straightforward conclusions from these scriptures alone.  However, if you consider Leviticus to be relevant to one issue, you might want to consider whether it is relevant to the other.

Update 2010-04-30:
I'm not an advocate for illegal immigration and am not claiming that any of those verses excuse it. However, it seems clear that God has a special concern for the alien and the stranger. Therefore, I am an advocate for compassion and for being especially careful in avoiding collateral damage in any effort to address illegal immigration.

What Israel Did

A few examples:

Deut. 2:  They destroyed towns of King Sihon...killing men, women, and children...leaving no survivors.  The context would seem to indicate this was done with God's blessing.

Numbers 31: Instructed by God to take vengeance on the Midianites, Moses gives instructions to kill all boys and non-virgin girls while saving the virgin girls for themselves.

1 Samuel 15: God instructs Saul to destroy the Amalekites, not sparing children and infants.

I think it safe to say that the followers of Jesus are unanimous in considering infanticide to be a gross violation of God's moral code.  How does that square with these passages of God-sanctioned infanticide?  I don't have a good answer.  One unsatisfying answer is that these sorts of things represent an ancient people using God to justify there barbaric actions.  I'm not ready to accept what that says about the reliability of scripture.  Another answer is "who is the clay to question the potter", God can do what he will regarding life and death.  That's not satisfying either, but is probably where I am at this point.

Miscellany 6 May 2009

» Who ever said America was on the road to perdition?  Surely we've got things turned around now that we're getting tough on "fleeting expletives!"

» If you make a big deal about transparency regarding the ~$800 billion stimulus and about how every dime will be track-able at, you really ought to deliver...and if you don't, at least have the sense not to blame your failure on inadequate data storage capacity.  This is 2009! (h/t WSJ)

» "Obama takes Jesus' advice: "when you pray, go into your room, close the door & pray to your Father, who is unseen"" Surely no one will take a dig at him for that, right? (link) (h/t Jimmy Shaw)

The Most Bizarre Letter to the Editor Ever

Last week our paper, the Midland Daily News, published a letter to the editor by Jeffrey D. Behr titled "World changing."  After alluding to childhood trauma and thoughts of suicide, his reasons for writing letters to the editor despite the negative impact they might have on his business, and the ways he believes that the United States has become "perverse," Jeffrey ends his letter with with this fascinating paragraph:

We have elected Barack Hussein Obama to be our president. He and his wife are actually haters of America, bent on punishing anyone who disagrees with them and punishing America for slavery. My greatest prayer these days is that God will rise up our founders and give them a chance to make up for that terrible and evil mistake, giving them the power, utensils, equipment, command of animals, insects, viruses and bacteria. Their mission being to move over our great country and destroy all adult human beings who do not have authentic, good, honorable American spirits. When the smoke clears there would only be a remnant few still standing. People of all colors, sizes and shapes. Christians, Jews, Islamics, Catholics and agnostics too. We would at that point be the most powerful nation in the world in spite of the human loss.

The Founding Fathers raised from the dead and controlling the insects! Wow.

No, actually, the government is not calling you a "right-wing extremist"

Friends, I understand that you have a very low opinion of the Obama administration and would not be surprised at all if they considered you to be an "extremist" because you are pro-gun, pro-life, believe in limited government, are concerned about illegal immigration, etc...BUT, I read the DHS report about right-wing extremists (link)  that has your knickers in a twist.  I also read a recent DHS report about left-wing extremists (link) and a recent press release from the FBI about left-wing extremists (link).

It is clear to me that all of the mainstream conservatives who are claiming that the DHS is calling them "right-wing extremists" are misreading what the report is saying (assuming they have read it).  The report is about right-wing extremist groups.  Reading the report (and the one about left-wing extremists groups), it is clear that extremism as far as the DHS is concerned is defined by the proclivity to resort to violence (which is common sense anyway because that is what DHS seeks to prevent).  Violence is mentioned throughout the reports.

The reports do identify issues of concern to many right-wing extremist groups (states rights, gun rights, immigration, abortion, etc.) and left-wing extremists groups (globalization, the environment, animal rights, etc.)...BUT, those things are not what defines an extremist.  Proclivity to violence is what defines extremists.  Normal conservatives and liberals (like you and me) are also often concerned about immigration, abortion, the environment, animal rights, etc.  Unless we are contemplating acts of violence and terrorism in response to our concerns, we are not extremists in the eyes of DHS.  The DHS report does mention some specific examples of right-wing extremist groups (militias and white supremacists) but does not, given a fair reading, equate normal people who are concerned about abortion or gun rights with extremists like those.

Again, let me emphasize, there is an important distinction here that is critical to understanding these reports. The report on right-wing extremists does not identify core conservative values as extreme. Instead, it indicates that some extremists are motivated by core conservative values. The left-wing reports indicate that some extremists are motivated by a stereotypically core liberal value (environmentalism), but that is entirely different from identifying environmentalism as an extreme value!  When someone states the fact that some extremist groups that perpetrate violence against abortion providers are (of course) motivated by opposition to abortion, obviously I should not take that to imply that I am an extremist just because I oppose abortion.

That, to me, is a common sense reading of the recent reports on extremism.  Of course, I don't necessarily expect everyone to use common sense in reading reports like these.  Some people will tell you that the DHS is calling you a "right-wing extremist" and, again, I understand that you are inclined to believe them (given your very low opinion of the Obama administration).  However, as far as I can tell, those people who are telling you that are not actually telling you the truth.


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