An Evangelical Call for Bipartisan Immigration Reform

The National Association of Evangelicals, which has all too rarely had something meaningful to say about our national public life in recent years, recently published an ad issuing a helpful call for immigration reform. In the light of the debate created by my recent blogs about the DREAM Act I thought this NAE call worth the attention of my readers. Here is the call itself:

Our national immigration laws have created a moral, economic and political crisis in America. Initiatives to remedy this crisis have led to polarization and name calling in which opponents have misrepresented each others’ positions as open borders and amnesty versus deportations of millions. This false choice has led to an unacceptable political stalemate. As evangelical Christian leaders, we call on Democrats and Republicans to lead our nation toward a bipartisan solution on immigration that:

Respects the God-given dignity of every person
Protects the unity of the immediate family
Respects the rule of law
Guarantees secure national borders

The DREAM Act and What It Means for Young Americans

Matt The video story that I shared yesterday introduced many of you to what is called the DREAM Act. I learned of this proposal from my son, Matt. Matt pastors a multi-ethnic congregation and thus remains deeply involved in issues of justice and compassion day-to-day. I would like to explain this sane and humane act as clearly as possible so I asked Matt to help me. Here is what I learned.

The DREAM Act says that to be eligible, a student:

1. Must have come to the U.S. before the age of 16.

2. Must have lived here for at least five years.

3. Must have graduated from high school.

If they meet those three criteria, then such immigrants get a five-year visa and need to do one of the following during those five years:


Conscientious Objection to War

n324366294921_5771 The history of Christian response to war and service in military combat is one filled with twists and turns. Every person must realize, if they exercise a modicum of thought, that this issue is deeply painful and troubling. Early Christians did not always serve in the military, though Roman soldiers were numbered among converts to the faith. Most of what we know about the early church suggests that, at least generally, Christians did not serve in the military. Over time the church developed what is called a “Just War Doctrine.” This doctrine is rather complex and has been carefully thought out over the course of centuries. But this doctrine is not of one type or expression. There are variations within it and every single Christian should think carefully about what they believe and why.

Modern complexities often create new challenges to traditional just war thinking. I have retained a modified just war position but I admit it is sometimes

By |March 14th, 2010|Categories: Ethics, The War on Terrorism|

Why No Comprehensive National Health Care?

I have a number of friends from both Canada and Europe who express considerable amazement at how we in the U. S continue to debate the subject of single-payer, comprehensive health care. For them it seems like a slam-dunk argument in favor of such a system. I read and hear that we are just being a selfish nation that doesn't care enough for the poor among us. We have been ruined, some argue, by our crass love of free markets and capitalism. And, I have heard American Christians from the political left argue that Christians who do not support national health care are even more culpable since we should be the very ones who are deeply concerned for our weaker, poorer fellow Americans. Indeed, the Christian left touts this entire issue as one of Christian compassion and love for the weak and marginalized. Who could argue with this point if this is the real case? The problem is that I strongly disagree with both the analysis and the reasons behind it. But it is admittedly not as easy to explain why in simple and

By |February 24th, 2010|Categories: America and Americanism, Ethics, Politics|

Why Did the Haitian Government Arrest Christians Who Were Attempting to Help Orphans?

I have followed the unfolding story of ten Americans, all Christians from Idaho who were arrested for trying to take children out of Haiti after the earthquake struck, with great deal of interest. What has made this seemingly unique story so intriguing to me is that numerous non-Christian journalists and radio talk show people here in Chicago have reacted fiercely against the Haitian government. Their stridency on this issue is rarely seen in defense of Christians from Idaho. While this story has been unfolding I have generally have "felt" that there has to be much more to this story than most of us really know and understand. Then I read an article by my good friend Jim Tonkowich and saw why I was unsettled about this story. With permission I reprint Jim's story and urge you to also read it. It is, as Jim originally titled it, a story of missionary zeal and practical wisdom. I think the story represents a common problem found among many conservative Christians in America. Our zeal is genuine, our knowledge is often limited

By |February 10th, 2010|Categories: Current Affairs, Ethics|

At the Death House Door: A Film That Pushed Me Over the Edge

Death Hosue album I have had very serious doubts about the practice of capital punishment in America for decades. I know the arguments for it quite well. I fell back on those arguments, and the Old Testament texts that can be used to support them, until I felt the whole issue crumbling under my feet about 15 years ago. Like so many similar changes in my thinking I processed my thoughts, read more widely, studied the Scripture much more carefully and just listened a great deal. I read the classical texts on the issue from church history and the modern arguments by supporters and opponents. Like so many of these kinds of issues there is a great deal of emotion involved in coming to any conclusion. Most of the time your mind will go to the worst case scenario and leave it there. But the worst case scenario argument was finally resolved for me by watching a new film, At the Death House Door. Let

By |December 8th, 2009|Categories: Ethics|

Justice in America? The Failure of Our Prison System

Our prison system is an unmitigated disaster. Very few Christians know the real problems in the system and even less really care. This is positively wrong. We need to become advocates for justice and mercy in the very best sense of both words.

Our system is moving towards a serious collapse and few know the answers. An obvious problem can be seen in the simple, observable fact that those who have money generally avoid prison and those who are poor do not. But even worse is how we treat those who are incarcerated.

California has the largest penal system. This is no surprise since it is our most populous state. It is also one of the worst systems in America. The state has been building new prisons, since 1970, at a rate that is almost beyond belief. The entire system is so overcrowded and inhumane that a federal court recently ordered the state to reduce the prison population by

By |February 27th, 2009|Categories: Ethics|

Secular Humanists and Human Dignity

Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker wrote an article that appeared in May in the magazine, The New Republic (TNR). I often disagree with TNR but I generally find it stimulating and provocative reading from a moderate to left-leaning perspective. It is one of those magazines that is not so far from reality that it can’t still be genuinely worth reading. The current August 27 issue, for example, has an excellent article on Darfur and how it was allowed to happen. Conservatives desperately need the realism of this kind of journalism to challenge their comfortable categories about news.

Anyway, Professor Pinker assailed the 555-page report by the President’s Council on Bioethics issued earlier this year. He called it "The Stupidity of Dignity." (Lest someone think only conservatives can come up with titles like this please note the pejorative nature of Pinker’s title.) Nr
Pinker called

By |August 16th, 2008|Categories: Ethics|