I’ve seen a lot of tweets and Facebook posts from Christians who are angry that liberals are painting them as cruel, callous people who, because they support Republicans or voted for Donald Trump, don’t care enough about the inhumane treatment of refugee children in detainment centers.
But when some of the most well-known conservative Christians make statements about immigrants that are shockingly vile, it’s not enough for other believers to simply say they aren’t “real” Christians. You can’t sit by when the Christians whose voices have long been amplified say something despicable and not expect to be painted with the same brush in return.
Consider someone like James Dobson, founder of the group Focus on the Family. In a recent letter to his supporters, he made blatantly racist and classist comments about refugees.
After visiting the southern border in McAllen, Texas, Dobson writes:
I promised the exhausted U.S. Custom and Border Patrol agents that I would go home and tell as many people as possible what I had seen “up close and personal.” Today, I am attempting to fulfill that commitment.
I noticed that almost none of them were talking to each other. The children looked traumatized and frightened. Tears flooded my eyes as I stood before them. They had no toys or dolls, except for a few items bought by compassionate border patrol agents. One tiny little girl clutched something that resembled a doll bought for her by an agent. There are few provisions made to accommodate the children. The week before we were there, a delegation of agents went to meet with members of Congress, and begged them for additional money to buy Pampers, toothbrushes, and other necessities. They were turned down flat. These meager supplies have to be purchased with the border patrol budget, which is stretched to the limit.
Those poor border control agents, trying so hard to accommodate kids’ needs with such a meager budget. (Dobson doesn’t mention that donations of diapers, soap, and toothbrushes from local Texans were denied by border patrol.)
Who should we blame for the horrific conditions there? Perhaps the Republicans who sat by as the Trump administration separated kids from their parents, all while keeping them in these concentration camps?
Not a chance. Dobson blames Democrats who “want massive numbers of immigrants who will someday become voters” and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer for his handling of immigration policy.
But then it gets worse:
What I’ve told you is only a glimpse of what is occurring on the nation’s border. I don’t know what it will take to change the circumstances. I can only report that without an overhaul of the law and the allocation of resources, millions of illegal immigrants will continue flooding to this great land from around the world. Many of them have no marketable skills. They are illiterate and unhealthy. Some are violent criminals. Their numbers will soon overwhelm the culture as we have known it, and it could bankrupt the nation. America has been a wonderfully generous and caring country since its founding. That is our Christian nature. But in this instance, we have met a worldwide wave of poverty that will take us down if we don’t deal with it. And it won’t take long for the inevitable consequences to happen.
1. Since when is anyone’s worth measured by their marketable skills? (When Jesus talked about who receives God’s love, an ability to please shareholders wasn’t on the list.)
2. Conveniently, Dobson cites no statistics for his assertion that immigrants are violent. Why, then, have the majority of shootings in this country been committed by white male citizens? (Often white, male citizens who profess some form of Christianity.)
3. Immigrants are not going to “bankrupt” the culture of our nation. We’re a country that proudly celebrates music and food and dancing from other countries. We’re richer — financially and culturally — because there’s such a mix of ideas and traditions. It’s cliché, but we’re fortune to live in a melting pot. We’re much better off having immigrants with a desire to join the country than people like Dobson who constantly comes up with new reasons to divide us.
4. It is downright laughable to think that America has been “wonderfully generous and caring” since its founding. Lest anyone forget, we inhabit a stolen land, whose people were ruthlessly slaughtered. We are a nation founded on slavery. While many of the people who carried out these atrocities called themselves Christians, it’s worth pointing out how their actions are a blatant betrayal of Jesus’ point conveyed in the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Conservative Christianity has more than an image problem; it has an empathy problem. Dobson and every other powerful white evangelical defending this administration prove that every time they speak. More Christians need to call it out or else they need to stop complaining when critics lump them all in together.
(Screenshot via YouTube)