Below are four excerpts (two from North, one from McDurmon, one from Marinov) that outline the proper Christian perspective on immigration: that is. the perspective outlined in the Bible.
In sum: there is no allowance in the Bible to reject immigrants and refugees. It is to be expected that obedience to God’s Law (esp. property rights and victim’s rights) will generate wealth; it is to be expected that obedience to God’s Law will bring liberty and safety; and it is to be expected that people will around the world will be drawn to the land that obeys God.
Today’s passport regime is intensely anti-liberty, as people are not permitted to leave or enter the country without the permission of the government that owns them. A Christian society would scrap such controls: we are fundamentally owned by God (who delegates a large degree of functional authority to the individual), and not the State.
Readers of this blog know well how I focus on the flow of Islamic migrants, largely consisting of young men, moving into Europe. A free Christian Europe means:
- not only one without today’s labour restrictions and welfare systems (so all those young men could get jobs, and would have to get jobs… or face starvation): it would also mean
- a Europe where the citizens could arm themselves as they please (instead of crying for their masters for protection),
- and kick out abusive migrants from their neighbourhoods and towns as they desired (as the Bible protects the right of association).
Finally, Scripture has no problem with explicitly Biblical laws being proclaimed by the government, and restricting the franchise to Christians (or even just to the heads of Christian families).
But Europe – especially Western Europe – is not Christian: it has no vigor, it has no hope, and what liberty and wealth it has is flowing away rapidly. Once again, America would be wise to avoid imitating the dying continent.
Of these quotes, the last one, from Bojidar Marinov, is admittedly lengthy and closely reasoned. However, as Christians must understand the nature and the function of Biblical Law if they plan on ever living in a free society again (as opposed to living under the heel of Our Betters), I have refused to cut it down.
At least two fundamental principles of Western law had their origin in Mosaic Israel. The first principle was the rule of law itself: every resident was to be protected equally by the civil law. The second principle was open immigration. The nation’s treatment of the immigrant served as a touchstone in Israel of the nation’s faithfulness to the first principle.
– Gary North, The Sanctuary Society and its Enemies
Central planning by the federal government is officially opposed by conservatives until you show them a marker that says “United States” on one side, and “Mexico” on the other. Then: “Congress needs to build a fence!”
The believers in fences offer many arguments. Some of them say this: “Those people want to get free government welfare. We cannot afford it.”
Second, the conservative says this: “These immigrants will undermine our social way of life. They’re just too different. The American way of life cannot survive open immigration. Change will overwhelm the American way of life.”
Third, the conservative says this: “Immigrants will get jobs here. They will take jobs away from Americans.”
Conservatives quote Ronald Reagan. “A nation that cannot control its borders is not a nation.” Conclusion: from 1788 to 1882, the United States was not a nation. Silly, isn’t it? Then why do conservatives quote it?
This historically silly slogan assumes that passing a law is the same as achieving the law’s official goal. We have immigration laws on the statute books today. We also have 10 million illegal aliens. Maybe 20 million. Maybe 30 million. The government cannot even count them. It would cost at least $23,000 each to deport them. Each case must be tried in a court. It would tie up the U.S. court system. They cannot — will not — be deported. Fact: the USA does not control its borders. This control is only symbolic: a token to placate the voters. Are we therefore a token nation?
Should we trust social engineering by politicians? Why?
There are eight words in the English language which generally define Americans, as long as they are not in Congress. These eight words are central to understanding the American character. They have been basic to the American character for over 300 years. Here they are:
Live and let live.
Let’s make a deal.
When civil governments get involved in the affairs of men, then these two sentences get compromised.
– Gary North, “Immigration Control: Federal Social Engineering”
There simply is no biblical reason to refuse legitimate refugees. The Bible is clear that national borders should be open to all peaceful and law abiding individuals. Further, when we properly understand the meaning of the Bible’s teachings on immigrants, we will understand that to loathe refugees is to loathe ourselves and our own nation.
Deuteronomy 10:18–19 says, “He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.” If God loves the sojourner, so should we. In fact, He commands us to do so directly.
The sojourner is to be free from oppression (Ex. 23:9), is to have access to charity (Deut. 26:12), is to have equal access to the law (Ex. 12:49; Lev. 19:33–34; Num. 15:16), and is to have equal access to courts and justice (Deut. 1:16). They are thus to be afforded the same opportunities, legal protections, and remedies as everyone else in the country.
Furthermore, it was Solomon’s expectation that the nation would be such a city on a hill that foreigners would want to come join it:
Likewise, when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for your name’s sake (for they shall hear of your great name and your mighty hand, and of your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that I have built is called by your name (1 Kings 8:41–43).
In other words, a nation following biblical law will be a beacon for immigrants, will expect them, and will welcome those who come because of His name (i.e. His laws).
It is not receiving refugees that increases our likelihood of suffering terrorism. I do not believe it would increase the likelihood one bit, because that is not the root cause of terror strikes against the US, nor would it facilitate it. The factors that motivate and that would allow a terrorist through are separate from those associated with the refugee question.
As Gary North wrote nearly thirty years ago (before even the first war in Iraq),
Christians should not become advocates of closed borders to those who are coming here to work. Obviously, revolutionaries may accompany the immigrants, but trained revolutionaries are going to get into a free nation anyway. The borders are not that tight, and they cannot be made that tight. We are not Communist nations.
To close borders is simply to treat everyone as potentially guilty and thus to destroy a free society, while not really ending the threat it purports to end. It replaces the specter of the possibility of terror with the certainty of another terror—that of certain tyranny and on a pervasive, inescapable scale. We cannot tighten the borders enough to stop a motivated terrorist, and the more we tighten, the more we destroy freedom for everyone else. Meanwhile, by not addressing the root motivation that makes America a strategic target for terrorists, we keep the possibility of such a strike as high as it possibly could be. This trade-off is hardly desirable or helpful. If the goal of the terrorists is to destroy western freedom, then they’ve won. We’re no longer free, and we’re still afraid.
Instead, if we want to minimize the likelihood of a terrorist strike on US soil, we should examine the blowback from our foreign policy.
It is a great condemnation of a nation of Christians that we have allowed something as radically unbiblical as socialistic policies to become a norm accepted and defended by Christians. That it perverts our view of nations, citizenship, and immigration in ways we no longer even realize, and worse, in ways that make us instinctually fight against biblical values, alerts us how far we have come, and how deep is the need for biblical revival.
We may have a problem with refugees, or immigrants in general, coming in and freeloading welfare benefits. It may very well be that a majority of the Syrian refugees are unemployed young men seeking welfare havens throughout the West, including America. But the problem here is not the refugees or even their motivation, but the socialistic docks upon which we provide them to land. We don’t have an immigration problem, we have a socialism problem. Or we could say immigration is a problem only because of our socialism. If we spent as much time and energy slamming and criticizing our socialism and secular humanism as we do Islam, we might get somewhere.
We spend our time and virtually all our precious resources in crisis mode against outward symptoms and not against the root causes. We are so self-deceived. We think if we allow a few thousand Muslims into this nation we are going to diminish our culture. What culture? Our Christian culture? You mean the Christian culture that Christians have sat and watched for a century and half slowly erode with progressivism, socialism, public schools, social security, no-fault divorce, abortion, Joel Winfrey and Oprah Osteen? Through radical pietism, premillennial pessimism, rapture escapism, dualistic two-kingdoms withdrawal and “natural law”? You mean the Christian culture that Christians have diminished and eroded already by themselves?
There is nothing about our culture that a relative handful of Muslims is going to destroy that we Christians have not ourselves destroyed already. Who needs Muslims when you’ve got Christians like these?
– Dr. Joel McDurmon, “Should we accept the refugees?”
Few things are more commonly misunderstood than the nature and meaning of theocracy. It is commonly assumed to be a dictatorial rule by self-appointed men who claim to rule for God. In reality, theocracy in Biblical law is the closest thing to a radical libertarianism that can be had.1
Rushdoony was not saying that “radical libertarianism” really existed as a system of thought or ideology, or that it “could be had.” He was using it as an ideal notion, a limiting concept of the ultimate theoretical expression of a specific idea. It was for him the idealized limit against which all really existing practical ideologies must be compared when assessed in terms of their faithfulness to that specific idea. And in his view, theocracy, as a practical ideology, was the closest possible to it. In other words, if you want maximum possible individual liberty, theocracy in the Biblical Law is what you want. [My bold – AP] Anything else will mean less liberty when applied in practice. Which means that the only true libertarianism we can have is Biblical theocracy. It’s the closest to the ideal.
So where does that leave secular libertarianism? Secular libertarianism – that is, libertarianism not based on the Law of God – is in fact less libertarian than theocracy; or, it’s farther away from the perfect ideal of “radical libertarianism” than is theocracy. I would argue also that it is not real libertarianism at all, for it really doesn’t care for liberty that much. As I have argued before, secular libertarianism always degenerates into some mild form of statism or collectivism every time it tries to apply its ideas in practice. As Mark Rushdoony, R.J.’s son and heir, mentioned once, “Biblical Law makes secular libertarians look like statists.” Indeed.
I have given some examples of it before.4 This article responds to another example of such anti-liberty solutions: Lew Rockwell’s talk delivered at the Mises Circle in Phoenix AZ a couple of weeks ago, “Open Borders: A Libertarian Reappraisal.”
I am far from the intention to denigrate Mr. Rockwell’s contribution to libertarianism and to the liberty movement in the US; he is a great mind and he has been one the key players in the development and the propagation of the ideas of liberty in this country, as well in the development and the propagation of the practical conclusions and applications these ideas. But even the greatest minds have their bad moments. And in my opinion, this speech may well be his worst moment. On the issue of immigration, he is inconsistent, self-contradictory, and he adopts the ethics of those very same statism and collectivism that he has been criticizing for many years. And here, I will try to offer a response showing his inconsistency, and then offer in brief the true libertarian position on the immigration, that is, theocracy in Biblical Law.
Why Is Private Property a Factor?
The most basic problem with Lew Rockwell’s thesis is epistemological: he makes private property a fundamental factor in determining the degree of liberty of individuals. While most libertarians who are not familiar with the foundations of Classical Liberalism would intuitively accept private property rights as a sufficient moral guide and standard – which would legitimize Rockwell’s use of them – in reality, Classical Liberalism rejects this intuition. Private property is not a basis for an ethical standard under Classical Liberalism; in fact, private property is not sacred, and the right to it is not legitimized by any previous state of the property or action by the owner. I have offered a critique of this often overlooked characteristic of Classical Liberalism in my article, “Classical Liberalism Has No Place to Stand.” Von Mises is very clear in his Human Action: private property is not sacred. There is no underlying metaphysical ethical principle which defends private property in its very essence. As an abstract principle it may be beneficial and expedient, which is the thesis of Gottfried Dietze in his study, In Defense of Property (1963). But that’s where the “goodness” of private property ends; there is no ethical value in private property beyond its utility or expediency. And no, it’s not utility or expediency for the private owner himself, but for the multitudes of non-owners, as von Mises makes very clear in his two pages (!) on private property in the 800-page study on Human Action.5
And no, it’s not an omission by Mises, nor an inconsistency. He is bound by his very operational presuppositions not only to reject the notion that private property is sacred, but also to reject the notion that anything whatsoever is sacred. In chapter VIII of the same book, laying out the epistemological basis for his thought, he specifically criticizes the “holistic and metaphysical view of society” on the basis of its “essential problem”:
By what mark do I recognize the true law, the authentic apostle of God’s word, and the legitimate authority?
Thus, Mises’s inability to find a principle for discernment between alleged transcendent causes (or refusal to accept it when offered), becomes the foundation for his rejection of all transcendence. Thus, his epistemological foundation is all immanent, and as all immanent philosophies, he has to resort to some form of dialectics (to reconcile the dualistic opposites). His dialectics is the combination of individual human action and social co-operation.
While discussing this dialectics and its inconsistencies is a different topic, the question remains: Why should Lew Rockwell judge the ethical value of open borders based on the issue of private property rights? If private property itself is not sacred and is judged by its utility and expediency, shouldn’t we judge any alleged conflict between immigration and property rights based on that higher principle, human action and social cooperation? After all, there are multiple studies that show immigration to be helping the economy. More immigrants, more consumers. And since Mises says that under capitalism, private property is the consummation of the self-determination of the consumers, the more consumers, the more validation for the goodness of private property. N’est-ce pas?
And indeed, those libertarians whom Lew Rockwell criticizes for favoring open borders actually do have the data on their side. The evidence shows that immigration helps the economy; and they quote multiple studies that prove it. Obviously, the more the borders are open, the more human action and social interaction are encouraged, and the data shows it. Rockwell is wrong when he says that they just “have assumed” that this is the correct libertarian position. Based on the original presuppositions of Classical Liberalism, these libertarians are consistent and logical, while Lew Rockwell is inconsistent and illogical. They have the evidence on their side, and Rockwell has only metaphysical bias on his side.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not denigrating private property here; to the contrary, and in disagreement with Mises and Classical Liberalism, I believe private property is sacred, that is, there is a transcendent, divine sanction for it, independent of Mises’s imaginary “self-determination of consumers.” It is in the Law of God in the Bible. But then, the Law of God has a different view on immigration and liberty than Lew Rockwell. And we will see what it is at the end of this article. As of now, suffice to say, Rockwell has failed to remain faithful to the fundamental philosophical principles of his own professed ideology.
– Bojidar Marinov Lew Rockwell on Immigration: The Mild Statism of Secular Libertarianism