Last week I blogged about the embarrassment of American Christian nationalism on the recent refugee crisis (and immigration policy altogether), and why atheists ought to be able to do better, and be seen doing better. But I have to give props this week to the fact that not all American Christians are like that. And I don’t mean liberal Christians (e.g. Episcopalians) or Hispanic Christians (e.g. because duh), who of course have more compassionate attitudes on these things (and are just ignored, even by most Christians–being that in the U.S. most Christians are not really all that touched by these crises and think Episcopalians are in the service of the Devil). No, I mean, even the institutional leaders of the conservative wing of Christianity.
Which is not to say the frontmen, e.g. televangelists who holds millions in thrall like Pat Robertson and John Hagee, or the various pundits on FOX News who pretend to be Christian leaders. Or, apparently, even many pastors preaching literally from the pulpit to conservative congregations that aren’t predominately Hispanic. But the institutional leaders, the in fact actual leaders, of conservative sects like the Southern Baptist Convention. Technically even the Catholics, although the de facto leadership in the Catholic church is too obsessed with sex and gays to make its views on the refugee crisis or immigration a noticeable priority. Ironically ignoring even their own pope in so setting that perverted order of priorities (so now the Catholic leadership has joined the Catholic laity in ignoring everything the Pope says…one wonders if at some point they’ll even forget they have a Pope and decades later they will find a babbling old man in a funny hat covered in cobwebs atop a random tower in Thornfield Hall).
Most conservative Christians of course want Americans taken care of first. Which is reasonable. Corporations have been lying (as they tend to do) about a paucity of skilled workers as an excuse to hire cheap foreign labor. They can’t just out and say it’s solely profit motive, because that would be bad PR. So they make up some bullshit about how they just can’t find anyone in the U.S. to do jobs that in fact millions of Americans looking for jobs have been specifically trained for. But that involves immigration policy regarding foreign skilled workers who come here legally, not what most people go on about, which is their fear of uneducated masses washing across the border “illegally” and stealing jobs that, it turns out, Americans actually won’t do anyway (despite obviously being qualified to–since here we are talking about minimal skill jobs, which just require backbreaking industriousness, which a shocking amount of Americans are too pampered to endure…although in part because such jobs are criminally underpaid, which gets us full circle back to that corporate greed this paragraph started with).
But it appears the vast majority of conservative sectarian leadership is even more on the side of liberals in terms of calling for more humane treatment of refugees and more accommodating treatment of immigrants, seeing them as admirable and an asset rather than awful and a threat. The Tea Party in fact has been consistently ignoring a nearly unified conservative Christian lobby on this, in its efforts to tank all real immigration reform.
That’s right. Christian leaders are uniformly against the Tea Party on this. Something the general mass media won’t have told you–although you can find it if you consult a large diversity of media sources…and read, instead of vegetate in front of talking heads. So you’d have gotten the skinny reading The Daily Beast on this, for example: props to Jacob Lupfer and David Sessions for covering it, and well. But you don’t have to take their word for it. Just check out organized (yes, even white) Evangelical efforts at pro-immigration and pro-refugee reform in both legislation and popular attitudes: from the Bibles Badges and Business campaign to the Evangelical Immigration Table (their rotating list of Bible verses will shame any anti-immigrant Christian into some serious cognitive dissonance…it’s almost as if an atheist was on their web team!).
I’m not the only one to notice this growing split between, for example, the ivory tower of Evangelical leadership and their rank and file. Michael Gerson wrote about it last year. But even there the conservative congregants are starting to come around. They just don’t yet have a noticeable voice, and aren’t motivated enough to organize as often (e.g. by counter-protesting anti-immigrant and anti-refugee marches and mobs, like that fiasco in Murieta I wrote about last week…which may have become a shaming point for Christians in the U.S. after all).
This is all well and good to see. It gives us hope that such eventual turnarounds among conservative Christians might manifest (albeit just as slowly) on other issues, like gay rights and women’s rights. But even now, this split on immigration and refugees hasn’t manifested in any significant action–the Christianity manifest in the Tea Party is having none of it, and the rank and file are as a whole far from there yet (as the Murieta event evinces). But I wanted to give the Christian leaders their due. Because a frighting majority of their own followers won’t.