Saturday, May 18, 2013

Love Thy Stranger as Thyself

You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.  Leviticus 19:34

What part of this don't we understand? Both the older and newer Testaments of our Christian bible give both direct instruction and offer stories about welcoming the stranger. But it often proves challenging for us. We live with our own forms of "stranger danger" phobia. What if the stranger has different values? What if the immigrants begin to take over and rob us of jobs? What if they prove to be violent? Even though we often celebrate our newcomer, immigrant forebearers, we aren't necessarily ready to give the benefit of the doubt to strangers in our midst.

The blog header today is a direct steal from a  recent New York Times article and a paraphrase of Jesus' "love your neighbour as yourself" directive. In the United States immigration reform is a huge issue at the moment and once again the political conservatives want to keep out the "furreners," or send them back, even though in states where draconian laws have been instituted it has resulted in unpicked crops and other economic woes.

The article points out that evangelical Christians have been changing their viewpoint on immigration which was often in lockstep with conservative political views. It is a combination of religious enlightenment and pragmatism. Many Latino immigrants are evangelical Christians, although lots of them try to distance themselves from conservative values. For them God isn't a Republican. To be fair, a growing number of Republican leaders have changed their views on immigration.

What are your thoughts about this? As Canadians are we also inclined to fear of the stranger? What do you think about the situation in the United States?

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