Day 5 – Stranger Love

Leviticus 19:33-34

When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

Exodus 12:49

There shall be one law for the native and for the alien who resides among you.

On April 7, 1933, the German government passed the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service.  The law protected Germans first.  Non-Aryans (Jews, Romani, Africans and dissenters) were no longer permitted to work as teachers, professors, judges, or other government positions. Later, the law was amended to include the professions of lawyers, doctors, tax consultants, musicians, and notaries.  The passage of the law resulted in social exclusion–and economic destitution–for all those who were non-Aryan.  Additional restrictive laws were passed and within 8 years, Jews were required by law to wear a yellow star of David as identification and deportation to death camps quickly followed.

Laws that “alienate”, laws that define who belongs and who does not, laws that limit or deny access to community life are oppressive and unjust.  But in God’s politics, immigrants are to be treated as if they are citizens.  There is one law for both native-born and the resident alien.  God effectively erases the line between the native-born “us” and the immigrant “other”.

Questions for Reflection

Can you think of laws that have been passed in our nation’s history (recent or otherwise) that were designed to “alienate” a segment of the population?

Why do you think people–especially people of faith–would support legislation that would identify and deny immigrants and/or refugees access to full participation in community life when God has made God’s will clear?

Our current president frequently uses the phrase “America First” to define its agenda–the America First Energy Plan and America First Foreign Policy.  Many people hear echoes of the German past in the phrase.  Should people be concerned? Why or why not?

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4 comments

  1. I’m definitely concerned, although I’m hesitant to immediately proclaim these circumstances the same as Germany in the 1930s. I don’t think America First is a responsible policy in the global world. Isolationism, historically, I don’t think has been terribly good for our country. And even though we don’t rely on the government to reflect Christian principles, I don’t think it’s in line with Jesus’ teaching to support an America First policy. My faith, and what I see from Jesus’ ways, compels me to give, to share, to welcome. If I’ve been given much, and by default as an American, I have, then much is required and I’m supposed to share. We think there isn’t enough to go around if we welcome the “alien” but we are not a nation of scarcity. I think that’s what frustrates me most. We don’t really lose anything by sharing and giving.

    Today’s travel ban order is a way to keep out the most vulnerable, so I don’t know if it applies completely to the verses you shared, but it’s related.

  2. State sponsored “alienation” seems to start with one seemingly logical action and goes downhill fast. The one situation that immediately came to my mind in the U.S. was the imprisonment of over 110,000 Japanese-Americans in Spring 1942 through Executive Order 9066 signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt on 2/19/42. However, government action did not begin with the EO. Long before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese-Americans–most of them citizens–were being monitored by government action as early as 1936. Immediately after Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Japanese Americans along the West Coast were prohibited from traveling more than 5 miles from their homes. As a result, many people lost their jobs or were fired. When they were forced to relocate to the camps, they were only permitted to take items they could carry with them, and many lost their homes and land. The EO had wide support among the public, but that didn’t make it right. Nativism and racism have deep roots that bear fruit–especially in times when we perceive our safety and well-being to be threatened.

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