Religious Dissonance, Or, Dr. Dobson Investigates The Border

I just finished reading Dr. James Dobson’s July newsletter detailing his White House tour of a border outpost in McAllen, Texas. I find the views that he shares to be really frustrating.

Dobson starts off by detailing pretty horrific conditions that thousands of men, women and children are dealing with. He points out that the vast majority of detainees are fleeing Central American countries and turning themselves in to border patrol. (He doesn’t mention it in his article but I believe this is called “seeking asylum.”) Dobson is grieved over the situation, even telling one of the men in detention that “God loves him…[and] I love him too.”

Then he offers a solution to his readers: support the president’s border wall so that these people can’t get into the country anymore. Setting aside the idea that the wall is largely ineffective if these people are turning themselves in to border patrol and not sneaking in through the desert, I have some real concerns about this.

As someone who has sworn their ultimate allegiance to Jesus Christ, I just can’t understand how Dobson can claim to be “profoundly grieved over the misery of thousands of people” in one sentence and then proceed to say that because they are “illiterate and unhealthy” and have “no marketable skills” we need to shut them out of the country so that they don’t “overwhelm our culture.” Jesus had a lot to say about “loving your neighbor” and even “loving your enemy.” His prime example of this was the story of the Good Samaritan. It’s a story of extreme compassion and material care for a true enemy. After telling his audience about the unsolicited compassion the Samaritan man had for his enemy, Jesus says “go and do likewise.” This is the way we are supposed to live as followers of Jesus. Dobson says that “we have met a worldwide wave of poverty that will take us down if we don't deal with it.” I agree. The way Jesus’ people deal with poverty is by giving away their riches, opening up their homes and seeing the outsider as one that Jesus loves, an image bearer of God, and worthy of our support. Obviously this crisis is much too large for a single person to remedy, or even a single church. It’s a problem that requires that will of a society to meet effectively.

Do I think that we could formulate a comprehensive national policy on border enforcement, immigration and care for the refugee that honors Jesus mandate of care for the least, protects our nation from foreign threats and effectively assimilates immigrants into US society? I do. I’ve always thought that the United States is the greatest country in the world and that we can do anything we put our minds to. We won WWII, we put human beings on the moon. We could figure this out if we wanted to. I think the unfortunate reality is that politicians of both parties will continue to use this issue and the lives of the people that are affected by it as pawns in their petty games to win votes and demean and belittle their political opponents. It’s a complicated problem that most of us in this country don’t have the data or the means to solve. However, I just can’t square the clear directives of the one I believe to be the King of the Universe with the idea that the solution to this humanitarian crisis is to wall it off so we don’t have to deal with it.

Zak Adams