Monday, February 9, 2009

Are Latter-Day Saints Inadvertently Aiding And Abetting Mass Immigration And Even Illegal Immigration Into The United States?

The answer to the question posed in the title of this post is ambiguous. Certainly, there are many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who take a strong stand against both mass immigration and illegal immigration into the U.S. One of the most prominent examples is Utah's 3rd District Congressman Jason Chaffetz, himself a devout Mormon, who promotes the idea of enforcement through attrition, and who believes the path to citizenship for all illegals must, at some point, lead back OUTSIDE the United States. He also wants legal immigration ratcheted down to more sustainable and manageable levels.

However, many Mormons not only do not share Congressman Chaffetz' commitment to protecting our country's borders, but they actually believe we should throw our borders wide open to facilitate what's called "the gathering of the elect to Zion", notwithstanding the Twelfth Article of Faith, which states that we shall "obey, honor, and sustain the law". And the current law quite clearly states that prospective immigrants must take their place in line and follow proper procedure to seek admittance to our national home.

One such individual who believes our borders must be thrown wide open to facilitate this "gathering" posted the following comment in response to a mostly-unrelated post on Times and Seasons entitled "Why Are The Faithful Fleeing":

Comment #53, posted by Bookslinger:

I think immigrants, Hispanic and other, are going to be a big factor in the growth and makeup of the LDS church in North America, just like they’ve become a factor in the Catholic church.

I believe that the huge number of immigrants in the US in the last 20 years, not just Hispanics, but Asians and Africans, is part of the fullfillment of the gathering prophecy in the Book of Mormon: “I will gather my elect from the four corners of the earth”. That’s not just a specific gathering to the city or land of Zion or the city or land of Jerusalem, but a gathering to the stakes of Zion. And the US currently has the most stakes of Zion. There currently are no stakes in China, or India, or Senegal, or Ethiopia, or Mali, so I think the Lord is gathering them here.

And in some countries where there are stakes, and even temples, there are still vast areas without a church presence.

The Lord has “gathered” thousands of Africans, East Indians, Chinese, Filipinos, and other Asians to Indianapolis, and every major US city. And I mean thousands from each of those areas/countries just to Indianapolis alone, not merely thousands in the aggregate.

And, in order to gather “the elect”, (whoever they are) the Lord also has to bring in others with them. The Lord didn’t say he will gather the elect and ONLY the elect. I think that their brothers, sisters, cousins, parents, children, uncles, aunts, neices and nephews are coming along with them too. [Ed. Note: That's called chain migration.]

Of course, Bookslinger completely disregards the aforementioned Twelfth Article of Faith, which commands us to "obey, honor, and sustain the law". But more importantly, Bookslinger also does not reference the other dictum, which is to carry the Gospel to ALL parts of the earth. This means the fulness of the Gospel must be carried to every nation, kindred, and tongue. While the Lord may gather the elect in the future through forces yet to be completely set in motion, we have a current mandate to exert every reasonable effort to bring the Gospel to them. This is why we have over 50,000 missionaries in the field.

And when we make an honest effort to obey this commandment, the Lord opens doors for us. One of the most common ways the Lord opens doors to recalcitrant nations is through "regime change". Most of the time, regime change must be imposed externally, as it was in World Wars I and II, and in Iraq. However, in one of the greatest miracles of the 20th century, regime change took place internally when the Soviet Empire voluntarily and peacefully disbanded. Since that time, the Gospel has more successfully penetrated Eastern Europe, and now there's a temple in Kiev, Ukraine.

To add insult to injury, many of the immigrants that Bookslinger cherishes hardly constitute the "elect". I certainly don't consider MS-13 gangbangers to be the "elect".

The LDS Church does not have an official "thus saith the Lord" position on illegal immigration. But on February 15th, 2008, the Deseret News recorded the unofficial position espoused by Marlin K. Jensen, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. During an interfaith forum on immigration at Westminster College, Elder Jensen stated, "The church's view of someone in undocumented status is akin, in a way, to a civil trespass", relating it to coming onto someone's property uninvited. "There is nothing inherent or wrong about that status", he concluded. The Church also does not ask local leaders to question prospective converts or members seeking temple privileges about their citizenship status, because, as spokesman Mark Tuttle later put it, "The church does not see itself as an enforcement agency".

And in response to Latter-day Saints who use the Twelfth Article of Faith argument to question why the church baptizes people and issues temple recommends to members who live in the country illegally, Tuttle responds, "I wonder how they'd feel about the second great commandment, to love thy neighbor as thyself. It's not an answer to your question, but it's another question. Sometimes it's hard to do them all". But does Tuttle love our foreign "neighbors" enough to put them up in HIS house?

I'm not suggesting that the LDS Church should become an enforcement agency. But put the moral burden on the interviewee during a worthiness interview by asking the person "are you obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law to the best of your ability?". This might encourage some illegals, out of a sense of conscience, to answer honestly.

If a member identifies himself as an illegal immigrant to his bishop, should his bishop turn him in? Tough question, but if bishops are required to turn in admitted sex offenders and others who confess crimes to them, aren't they also equally obligated to turn in self-confessed illegal immigrants?


Brent said...

My neighbor down the street here in Provo, (who was here legally and was six months away from citizenship) was deported back to Mexico about a year back. He was deported because he was hiring illegals to work for his landscaping business. His documents were disregarded, no due process was involved, and within the day, he was on a plane to Mexico. Of course, his family - his wife and three children, were left here to fend for themselves.

Boy, talk about an effective system. Perhaps, too effective.

It seems to me that more often than not, immigrants, Hispanic and otherwise, that are moving into our neighborhoods are here legally. Granted, my neighbor probably should have been fined for hiring illegals, but if he himself hadn't been an immigrant, there is no way that he would have been deported. To what end?


On an unrelated note, the strongest, most dynamic congregations in the older parts of the church are among the Hispanic congregations. In our own stake, our Spanish speaking unit accounts for the majority of convert baptisms.

The church in Utah is uniquely positioned to support the same kind of growth that we hear about in Latin America but with greater hopes of retention, because we have seasoned members from our English units that can serve as support to these newer congregations. Simply put, there is work here in Utah and there in the mission field.

The Jack Mormon said...

It's too bad your neighbor did not receive due process. This shows that the government lurches from one extreme to the other on immigration enforcement.

Better enforcement would also result in less backlash directed against Hispanics in general.