I often find myself asking people how the teachings of Christ can be reconciled with some of the attitudes of more vocal members of our society about immigrants (among other groups). One classic answer I received was: “Well, Jesus said to ‘render unto Caesar what’s Caesar’s’ and these people aren’t rendering.” The unquoted part of Christ’s statement, of course, is “and render unto God what is God’s.”
This raises a question: What do we owe government and what do we owe God?
If Christ and Bahá’u’lláh’s words are to inform our opinion, we owe both obedience, and I suppose the question is: How is that obedience to be demonstrated? Is the argument that in order to show obedience to Caesar, we must shower those whom we deem disobedient with vitriol? That we should, as a people, ignore their wounds, their hunger, their thirst, their calamities?
As I noted before, Christ calls upon us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. He makes that law one on which all others depend. Moreover, He is crystal clear that by our neighbor, He does not mean folks we consider to be part of our community.
I submit that there is no wiggle room in the teachings of Christ by which we—as individuals and as a nation made up of individuals—can treat other human beings as if they really were what Emma Lazarus, in her world-famous poem, termed “wretched refuse”. we could either throw out or just allow to accumulate at the border.