Robert Tsai, a Professor of Law at American University and the author of America’s Forgotten Constitution, discusses the use of the Bible in American immigration debates. Here is a taste of his piece at Boston Review:
In general, there have been two strategies to combat the use of the anti-immigration Bible. The first is that “church and state” should be separated, not children from parents. That is a catchy slogan, but it is misguided as a strategy.
First, while religious practices in the United States are decentralized, three-quarters of its citizens identify with a Christian faith. Biblical arguments carry great weight.
Second, by asking citizens to bracket religious arguments as we debate the direction of immigration policy, we sap the national conversation of the moral power it needs. Concepts such as dignity, equality, fairness, and family integrity have sacred as well as secular sources.
Laying down one’s weapons unilaterally or complicating things by demanding that opponents disarm is counterproductive. Even if some people backed off religious argumentation (a dubious proposition) we would just be replacing a strict rule-of-law discourse with an equally empty invocation of legal rights without moral content—as if order itself was synonymous with justice.
We can’t really get at the heart of what is at stake unless we are willing to talk openly, and sometimes religiously, about pressing national policies.
The second strategy undertaken by some activists is more promising: engaging directly with strict, nationalistic interpretations of the Bible, as well as those that would put cultural purity or formalism above duties to treat others with respect and kindness regardless of their status in society.
Read the entire piece here.