By Kellene Bishop
I have to confess. I felt a bit guilty about the feelings I had about illegal immigration when the Church came out with their position on the matter. Yes, I was one of those who felt that our Church leaders needed to come out stronger against illegal immigration. After all, didn’t we believe in living the laws of the land? On the other hand though I knew that I believed everything else that I had been taught by the apostles and prophets and that there was no reason to believe that this was the first sign of being lead astray by the same. So, seeing myself at odds with their position, I decided to give it much thought, prayer, and research. I’m happy to say that I no longer feel conflicted between my feelings of illegal immigration and the position of the leaders of the church. I hope that I might be able to assist some of my fellow church members to come to this same end as well.
The question was posed to me, “Who are we to tell a person where they can and can’t live?” My immediate response was “Well what about believing in living the laws of the land?” A quick retort, “That’s a completely different issue aside from immigration.”
Ok. I admit. I was stymied. Of course, to me it wasn’t a different matter. My problem with illegal immigration is that people were coming into this country illegally, committing crimes, spreading diseases because they didn’t come in with a proper medical screening, and bankrupting our economy because of the exorbitant amount of welfare that we spend on them for education, health care, and welfare. I felt that such behavior was the worst kind of stealing and I couldn’t see why such a crime was something that I should tolerate, even with apathy. My wise mentor then encouraged me to think through what I had just said, giving me some thought-provoking considerations along the way.
If we cannot legally and forcibly take from one person and give it to another, then it is not an authority that we can bestow upon our government to do. Any law which contains these characteristics is clearly an unjust law. And yet our welfare mentality today commits the very act of forcibly taking from one person and giving to another. As Elder H. Verlan Andersen puts it so well in his book The Great and Abominable Church of the Devil, “If we would steal, except for the fear of being punished or exposed, then our approval of laws which forcibly take property from its rightful owner and give it to those to whom it does not belong would demonstrate this trait. If we would commit extortion except for fear of being caught, then our support of licensing laws which forcibly deny people freedom to enter legitimate business and patronize whom they please will reflect this criminal tendency.” Ouch. I think he just put me in my place with this sound reasoning. (Thank goodness my truth detector was working this time) If I support an act by the government that I could not get away with on my own, then I am supporting the very same crime as if it was committed by myself or another person in my stead. Just as a man is guilty of attempted murder when he attempts to pay to have someone killed, so too am I guilty if I support, and even pay to have, my government officials take from one person and give to another.
That being said, I ask myself, do I really believe that I have the authority to tell a person where they can and cannot live? So long as a person does not trample on the freedoms of others, I have no claim against them. If there are jobs to fill, land to live on, and lives to enjoy here in America, then who am I to say who can and cannot enter? If they enter as law-abiding citizens, then how can I judge whether or not they shall possess this land which is not mine to give or take; it is God’s land. If you really think about it, the promised Lost Tribes of Israel are likely to come here “from the North” without going through the necessary paperwork that we demand of others today. I strongly doubt that anyone will be stirring up a fuss just because they didn’t get the “OK” from DHS or the Border Patrol. As I understand it, the scriptures are very clear that the Lord Himself will guide people to come to this land.
All kidding aside, what about those who come here illegally, in a non-lawful manner? It hit me one day as I was stopped to the side of the road, being issued a speeding ticket. While a judge had yet to pronounce my guilt or innocence, on the surface it certainly appeared that I had broken a law. Clearly I’d have to be a hermit not to associate with any other person who had also broken a law. I even have a friend or two who find themselves in prison in recompense for a crime they were found guilty to have committed. Does that mean that I am released from having charity, love and compassion towards any of these persons? Nope. So the being upset because they come into this nation without following the appointed protocol, that is not between me and them. That is between them and the Lord and I really should be more concerned about my standing before the Lord in harboring so much greed and selfishness at the thought of some of His other children taking a bit of what He’s blessed me with. So, the whole coming here illegally thing really can’t be the basis of my indignation—not by any stretch of logic anyway.
As I consider what distresses me the most about those who enter this country illegally, I realize it is NOT because someone may come here, uphold the laws of this land, embrace the laws, standards, and cultures of this land, and attempt to be a profitable community member of this nation. Is not the Lord is clear when He states that there is “enough and to spare?” I have no reason to be concerned that just because one of His children receives such blessings it is not at the cost of my surviving, right? Rather I realize that what truly disturbs me are those who enter this country and seek to steal, with the help of my government, from myself and my fellowman in support of their livelihoods. And because the theft is aided and abetted by the laws which Man has made, there are no contributions of talents, skills, and virtue from those who receive their substance freely. Rather they are led to believe just as satan would have them believe—no good needs to be done to thrive. Simply “eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.” Those who arrive here and believe that our hard-working citizens seemingly “owe the immigrants our sustenance and support” in restitution of some wrongs we have done unto them are simply falling for the very same lie that the Lamanites did for so many years as a result of the falsehoods passed down from one generation to another. The other enticing lie is that “because you have so much, you are obligated to give much to me”—another lie of satan, who seeks to absolve us all of any personal responsibility, such as living by the sweat of our brow” in exchange for all that we have. When I look at this scene with these additional considerations I realize that this is definitely not an immigration problem, because it is certainly not a problem that is strictly germane to those who come here from another country; rather this is clearly a welfare problem.
Welfare. What is it, really? Are we to believe that it is our government acting in a benevolent manner as they take a portion of all that they receive from our “voluntary contributions” and thereby allocate some of those resources in order to clothe the poor, feed the hungry, and heal the sick? Nope. The monies which are allocated to pay for such dole lifestyles are forcibly taken from the hands of our citizens, upon the threat of liens, fines, interest and even jail. In other words, a dollar is forcibly removed from one person in order to give it to another. As exciting and entertaining as a good Robin Hood movie is, the fact of the matter is that this clever combination, regardless of what it is labeled, is one of stealing and plunder, plain and simple. To make matters worse, those of us who support such government programs are not absolved of any guilt in this felonious act, rather those who support such programs are just as much culprits as those who handle and dispense the money.
Though such actions may attempt to be colored with words such as “charity, care, and giving,” the fruits of such acts are poison to the eternal soul of ourselves and this nation. There is no pretense set in God’s law which approves such action. The scriptures specifically lay out that the responsibility to care for the needy, the poor, and the widowed must be voluntary, not compulsory and that such a responsibility is to rest upon the shoulders of family, friends and church members. And in accordance to God’s law, such support is earned by whatever contribution the recipients are able to muster in exchange.
In a letter dated September 30, 1941 the First Presidency sent a letter to the U.S. Treasury in an attempt to establish their position on the latest welfare proposals for our nation at that time.
“Thus, according to the gospel plan under which the church is established and operates, the care of the widow, the orphan, and the poor, is a Church function, is a part of the brotherhood of man which underlies our whole social and religious life.
…it is a neighbor to neighbor obligation. It is not a function of civil government. This is fundamental…
…Viewing all of these things it will be easy for you to understand that the Church has not found it possible to follow along the lines of the present general tendency in the matter of property rights, taxes, the curtailment of rights and liberties of the people, nor in general the economic policies of what is termed the ‘New Deal.’ The great bulk of what these people are trying to do is, in the final analysis, absolutely contrary to the fundamental principles of which we have spoken. It is the considered, long considered opinion of President Grant and those who are associated with him that our nation cannot be preserved if the present governmental policies shall continue.
…This we feel we can definitely say, that unless the people of America forsake the sins and the error political and otherwise, of which they are now guilty and return to the practice of the great fundamental principles of Christianity , and of Constitutional government, there will be no exaltation for them spiritually, and politically we shall lose our liberty and free institutions.
Returning to your original letter and our reply thereto regarding the selling of defense Bonds. The Church as a Church does not believe in war and yet since its organization whenever war has come we have done our part…we do thoroughly believe in building up our home defenses to the maximum extent necessary, but we do not believe that aggression should be carried on in the name and under the false cloak of defense. We therefore look with sorrowing eyes at the present use to which a great part of the funds being raised by taxes and by borrowing is being put…We believe that our real threat comes from within and not from without, and it comes from the underlying spirit common to Naziism, Fascism, and Communism, namely, the spirit which would array class against class, which would set up a socialistic state of some sort, which would rob the people of the liberties which we possess under the Constitution, and would set up such a reign of terror as exists now in many parts of Europe.
This is just one of many ways in which we can be reminded of the danger which lies in our complacency in addressing this pandemic of slothfulness in our nation. But more importantly, as I’ve recently realized, it is the foundation which creates additional problems and with it more ways for me to sin in anger and rage. Thus I hope that now that I see what the problem is, I can do all that is in my power to ensure that my activities and sentiments do not feed the beast.
Bottom line, the problem we face is a welfare problem. We are literally enticing persons from other nations to enter our borders illegally because we are promising and providing them with that which a perpetrator of crime is attracted to—a dole lifestyle void of responsibility and consequence. I’m quite sure that were we to eliminate the root of the problem, our dole minded welfare program and our acceptance of such, and instead administer to the needs of our citizens in accordance to the plan that God has laid and restore true freedom to this sacred land, we will be blessed in strength and we will successfully eliminate any swan song which entices the lazy and self-indulgent to come to this nation. At this time we have stood by while we watched the standards of the Law of the Harvest become corrupted and adulterated to the point that that which built this nation is hardly recognizable. I pray that now that I have awakened to this awful awareness I can help restore the standard of freedom and thereby welcome the virtuous souls who would come here with the desire to contribute and reap their honest rewards.