The Mormon Church Is Pro-Migrant: Now Officially Entertaining Angels

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It appears that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is now officially and publicly pro-migrant (sombrero tip to Memeorandum):

The bedrock moral issue for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is how we treat each other as children of God.

The history of mass expulsion or mistreatment of individuals or families is cause for concern especially where race, culture, or religion are involved. This should give pause to any policy that contemplates targeting any one group, particularly if that group comes mostly from one heritage.
Official Statement (10 June 2011)

Generally, as far as I understand it as a non-Mormon, it is the position of the Mormon Church not to get involved in politics. There's certain issues that the Mormon Church does take a stand on though. For example, see the film Prop 8: The Mormon Proposition to see how effective the Mormon Church was in attacking LGBTQ equality in California.

It's good to see the Mormon Church starting to devote some of the energy they've spent on attacking LGBTQ people, towards empowering migrants. It's a major victory for the pro-migrant community. Nativists (whom I prefer not to link to) know it and that's why they've been so quick to attack.
I have yet to do a deep reading of the Book of Mormon, and I'd be interested if anyone knows what it has to say that is relevant to migrants in this day and age. Still, I know Mormons also read the Bible and I thought this was an opportunity to do a short reflection on how this squares with my interpretation of the Word, which many have already reflected on before me.

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Hebrews 13:2

I believe this New Testament verse is the most beautiful rendering of a core Judeo-Christian teaching, the necessity of showing hospitality to strangers. I'm indebted to Glen Peterson who sometimes blogs at People Migrate for introducing it to me. My favorite verse in the Old Testament (or the Hebrew Bible in deference to Judaism) where this teaching is much more pronounced is:

Thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

I like these verses not only because of the teaching they pronounce but also because they provide insight into why the teaching is important. The implications in the Old Testament are clear, and we hear this narrative even today when migration policy is discussed. We are all migrants. We forget that and oppress current migrants at our own peril. The beautiful story of Jewish liberation from Egypt provides a depth and complexity to that narrative that I can't hope to express in my own words.

I like Hebrews 13:2 in the New Testament because it provides intensely personal insight into why it's important to interact with and be hospitable to migrants. I'm sure we've all had the experience of a stranger coming into our lives and transforming us for the better in ways we never thought possible. Those are angels (not necessarily the strangers themselves) coming into our lives and we cut ourselves off to them only to our own detriment.

Strangers can also hurt us of course, but I'm certain that those who are consistently hospitable to strangers will find the rewards to be frequent and long-lasting and the pain to be rare and fleeting. Ben Harper expresses this beautifully in a song: "the stones from my enemies, these wounds will mend, but I cannot survive the roses from my friends." Stones wound us, but roses transform us.

The beauty in the teaching to love the stranger is that it shines a light directly on one of the darkest parts of the human psyche, the tendency to fear the unknown. The reason why the stories of migrant youth have been so transformative in the fight for the DREAM Act is because they humanize and make known what nativists need to be inhuman and unknown in order for them to succeed. Even the boundary-crossing and transformational stories of migrant youth, though, will fail to work on people whose hearts are closed to strangers.

I've already gone on for much too long so I'll end it there. The fact that that we're able to use words thousands of years old to provide insight into the most pressing issues of our day speaks to their value and their Truth.

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This page contains a single entry by kyledeb published on June 11, 2011 7:19 AM.

Morgan Freeman is Pro-Migrant, Supports Carlos Santana was the previous entry in this blog.

Head Republican Nativists, Elton Gallegly and Brian Bilbray, Set To Lose Seats in California Redistricting is the next entry in this blog.

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