Tuesday, June 05, 2018

White Evangelicals Cast Their Vote

A group of evangelical leaders representing seven organizations has sent the President a letter asking him to

urge law enforcement entities to exercise discretion to protect the unity of families. We also ask that you work with the U.S. State Department to resume a robust U.S. refugee resettlement program and to leverage U.S. influence to seek peaceful resolutions to the situations of violence in Central America.

The individuals, together comprising the Evangelical Immigration Table, not only speaks "as evangelical Christians guided by the Bible" but with an impressive understanding of past and present policy.

Some critics have implied that the Administration has reversed a policy which routinely and consistently kept parents and their children together.  Instead, as the EIY explains

While illegal entry to the United States can be a misdemeanor criminal violation, past administrations have exercised discretion in determining when to charge individuals with this offense, taking into account the wellbeing of children who may also be involved. A “zero tolerance” policy removes that discretion—with the effect of removing even small children from their parents

More adults, as the group notes, are being charged with a criminal offense when they have presented themselves at the board with a request for asylum. Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen are accurately notes that a child of parents "who have broken the law" (i.e., those accused of breaking the law) "goes to H.H.S. (Department of Health and Human Services) for care and custody." Nonetheless, she warns "if you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law."

Refugees=smugglers, contends the Administration.  Worse, perhaps, is that President Trump's most fervent supporters are either falling for the regime's propaganda, or were already there.

That would, of course, be white Christian evangelicals.  Two weeks ago, the Washington Post's Philip Bump reported on a Pew Research Center study which polled individuals from 4/25/18-5/1/18, asking (emphasis from Pew) "do you think the U.S. has a responsibility to accept refugees into the country, or do you think the U.S. does NOT have a responsibility to do this?" The options were "U.S. has a responsibility to accept refugees," "U.S. does not have a responsibility to accept refugees," and "Don't know/Refused."

It was little surprise that, as Bump wrote

No group agrees less with the idea that the United States has a responsibility to accept refugees than white evangelical Protestants.

Only 25 percent of evangelicals told Pew that they believed the United States has such a responsibility, half the percentage of Catholics who said the same thing and substantially lower than the religiously unaffiliated. In statistical terms, the percentage of evangelicals holding that view was about equal to the percentage of Republicans, 26 percent, given margins of error.

Shocking, I know. Bump reminds us

In October 2016, after The Washington Post published the “Access Hollywood” tape in which Trump describes groping women, the pollsters at PRRI asked Americans whether an elected official who’d committed an immoral act in their personal life could still behave ethically in office. In 2011, 30 percent of evangelicals said that he or she could, the lowest percentage of any religious group. In 2016, 72 percent of evangelicals said that the politician could do so — the highest percentage.

(In this 2016 study, the category was "white evangelical Protestant;" in the recent one, it was "white evangelicals.")

Hypocrisy in this, earlier study aside: we don't know whether evangelicals, white evangelicals, or white evangelical Protestants would typically hold intolerant views about refugees because they are conservative or simply because of continuing membership in the Donald J. Trump cult.


But the Evangelical Immigration Table knows that doing the work God has laid out for them requires a few sacrifices. Unfortunately, it appears that one of those sacrifices is the support of, or agreement with, others theologically like-minded. And when the Trump Administration is relegated to the waste bin of history, this is part of the tale that must not be forgotten.

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