The CBS news program 60 Minutes recently ran a segment titled “Sanctuary,” discussing the move by many U.S. churches to offer aliens facing deportation protection from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The piece purports to document a “silent rebellion” against immigration law where churches are “daring ICE agents to step through their stained glass doors.”
As part of the story, 60 Minutes host Scott Pelley interviews Reverend Robin Hynicka, pastor of Philadelphia’s Arch Street United Methodist Church. The good reverend very piously tells Pelley that his baptismal covenant obliges him “to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they show themselves.” The “evil” he has chosen to resist: the enforcement of constitutionally valid laws by the freest government in the world.
This is a typical bit of selective theology. It is an old axiom that religious doctrine bereft of context can serve as a pretext for just about anything. While Christians are clearly obligated to fight evil and injustice, they’re not entitled to disobey the law whenever they subjectively deem something to be unjust. In fact, Romans 13:1-2 clearly states:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God. So the person who resists such authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will incur judgment.
Of course, it is beyond the purview of the American courts to determine whether an individual is in compliance with God’s law. And that is exactly why Reverend Hynicka, is the worst kind of hypocrite. While he hides behind the cloak of church/state separation, he’s leading his flock in open insurrection against the government of the United States.
It’s shocking enough to hear a churchman tell the citizens of the United States that they have fallen afoul of God’s law because they want their borders secure and their streets free of alien criminals. It is even more shocking to see the mainstream media gleefully cheering them on. Keep in mind that this is the same media that catches a crippling case of the vapors any time a public high school sports coach leads a pre-game prayer or a photographer refuses to take pictures at a same-sex wedding. Yet, they’re ok with selective obedience to any law that applies to illegal aliens.
The icing on the cake, however, is the fact that two of the major institutions in American civic life can be so completely deaf to moral discourse in the United States. One gets the distinct impression that both Mr. Pelley and Rev. Hynicka missed all of the debates leading up to the last presidential election. Donald Trump may not have been the candidate sent by the angels, but his vision of a just immigration system as one that is fair to Americans, as well as aliens, clearly struck a chord with Christian voters. One can safely assume that those who self-identify as “Christian voters,” were most concerned with casting a vote consistent with their conscience, rather than loyalty to a particular party. Clearly, they see an immigration policy based on the rule-of-law as a necessary precursor to restoring ethical principles to American politics.
Maybe the leaders of the silent rebellion should stop punching holes in the barrier that separates church and state and go back to saving souls. The Anglo-American common law hasn’t recognized sanctuary as a valid legal concept in at least five hundred years. But illegal aliens get more than enough justice in the courts of the United States.