Injudicious Religious Activism

By: Thomas E. Brewton

Left wing churches ignore the law, engage in the equivalent of judicial activism.

The Wall Street Journal, in its July 20, 2007, edition printed an article based on a Time Magazine story in the July 30 edition. The first two paragraphs are the following:

“Sanctuary Drive Could Bolster Religious Left

“A movement to give sanctuary in churches to illegal immigrants threatened with deportation might bring new firepower to the long-quiescent religious left, writes David Van Biema in Time.

“Inspired by churches who offered sanctuary to Central Americans fleeing civil wars in the 1980s, members of a range of religious faiths have launched the New Sanctuary Movement in cities around the U.S. The effort has been small-scale, housing eight undocumented immigrants in churches in five U.S. cities. (While immigration authorities legally can raid a church, they rarely do.) NSM activists say four more congregations will house immigrants in August, and the mainline Protestant United Church of Christ has resolved to work with it.”

A few observations:

First, deciding to break the law of the land solely on the basis of what an individual or a group, including a church, thinks the law ought to be is essentially what activist judges do when they ignore the Constitution or statute law and, in effect, legislate from the bench.

Second, such action undermines respect for all of the law. When people see others break the law with impunity or create new law via judicial opinion, they wonder why they should obey laws that displease them.

Liberals make a big to-do about majority rule and the sovereignty of public opinion. In the case of sheltering illegals against lawful deportation, clearly the public is overwhelmingly opposed to these churches’ actions.

Third, one of the entities backing the campaign to break the immigration laws is the United Church of Christ. One wonders by what right they employ the name of Jesus Christ. The words of Jesus and the Apostle Paul are in direct contradiction to their campaign.

“Then [Jesus] said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” (Matthew 22:21)

“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong.

“Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

“Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” (Romans 13:1-7)

Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets. His weblog is THE VIEW FROM 1776

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About The Author Thomas E. Brewton:
Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.

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