Conservatives scrambling to explain why the Bible is negotiable for refugees, not for same-sex marriage and abortion

For decades now, we have been told by the conservative end of our political spectrum that the King James Bible is the answer to all of our major questions for how best to live together. We have been told, in so many words, that on the sixth day God made Adam; gave him Eve, a handgun and a sandwich from Chick-fil-a; and told him that public sector unions were the work of Satan.

Not only is this story true, we are told, but our Founders believed it, so we should govern accordingly. We are told to forget the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, the Establishment Clause of the Constitution and the “wall of separation” between Church and State mentioned in the Letter to the Danbury Baptists because Jefferson, Madison and the rest of the people who founded this country did so using “Judeo-Christian” principles — a term I’m fairly confident no Jew had a hand in coining — that we should continue to abide by.

The longer this game goes on, the more we find that the Bible should only be used as public policy in certain instances. That is to say, when our “Judeo-Christian” principles clash with secular right-wing principles — namely sexual purity, patriarchy and nationalism — self-described Christians lose their religion quick.

This week has represented a madder-than-usual dash away from Jesus. With few exceptions, the same people who have been telling us for years that evolution is bad, same-sex marriage is worse and abortion is the actual worst because Jesus said so are now being forced to explain why, when it comes to accepting refugees fleeing violence and repression, the Bible is just a parable.

Take a look at these passages from the Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway, who has carved out a niche in the blogosphere as an authority on the evil, immoral, un-Christian impulses of Planned Parenthood:

Jesus, presumably telling someone to chill out and think for themselves, via Wikimedia Commons

Jesus, presumably telling someone to chill out and think for themselves, via Wikimedia Commons

The media aren’t known for their friendliness to Christian beliefs, so it was surprising to see some reporters attempt biblical exegesis of their preferred domestic policies. As Hans Fiene has explained in “The Christmas Story Is About Christ, Not Obama’s Syrian Refugee Policy,” the Christmas story is about Jesus Christ, not Obama’s Syrian refugee policy. Reasons he cites include that Mary and Joseph were not foreigners in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph were not refugees, Mary and Joseph were most likely not denied room at a hotel, and, most importantly, the Christmas story is not a morality tale about hospitality.

Christians are to help others in need, but that doesn’t mean all Christian policies should be U.S. policies. And I’m kind of surprised at how many people are suggesting otherwise — or at least suggesting that U.S. policy should be Christian moral law. It’s certainly a different tune than what you hear when it comes to certain other hot button political topics (including those with far more biblical clarity).

The thing is: she’s right. All Christian policies shouldn’t be U.S. policies. We shouldn’t need the Bible to tell us whether to accept Syrian refugees. Of course, that isn’t the point liberals are making when they invoke scripture to point out that, if faced with the question, Jesus would absolutely accept as many Syrian refugees as he possibly could.

The point is that the Bible isn’t a guide for public policy at all. We can play (and have played) the “actually, the Bible agrees with me” game on abortion, same-sex marriage and gun control, too. It doesn’t mean that I’m in favor of abortion access, same-sex marriage and gun control because the Bible says so. It means that I’m in favor of those things because I think they’re good ideas for secular reasons, and I think it’s silly to have them dismissed because you can point to a passage in a book that says otherwise. That’s the “Lucille says you’re wrong” argument, and those who rely on it deserve to have it thrown back at them so they can see how ridiculous it is.

Accepting Syrian refugees is the right thing to do because helping people in need is the right thing to do. Especially if they’re trying to escape a violent, hellish situation that we played a big role in creating. What’s more, on top of being cruel and indifferent, rejecting refugees makes no sense given the baselessness of the threat we are told they pose. As President Obama said yesterday, we face a bigger threat from tourists than we do from refugees, who already go through an insanely rigorous screening process.

Also, this:


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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