We posted a meme recently on our Facebook page that featured a semi-fictional conversation between many American Christians and God. I say “semi-fictional” because the quotes were taken from the Scriptures, condensed a bit to represent the gist of a few passages in the Old Testament.
Here’s the full meme:
I was surprised by the amount of attention it garnered, though in retrospect I am not sure why. I am well aware of the many arguments against open immigration, from both libertarian, conservative, and progressive vantage points. I even have respect for some of them, and I believe they all have valid counterpoints to the claims of open borders advocates.
And while it is true that I, writing on behalf of “Libertarian Christian Institute,” continued to defend more open borders, the fact of the matter is that this meme was not intended to be a meme about border policy or economic analysis. It made no proposals for open or closed borders. It didn’t advocate for a political party to vote for. It made no claims that the USA ought to adopt the Bible as its guide to border policy.
Clearly we were being provocative. We were also making a small contribution to a topic much of the libertarian movement is talking about, due to the recent release of Open Borders, a graphic novel by Bryan Caplan and Zach Weinersmith. So we were capitalizing on the current milieu in libertarianism discussing such an idea.
But here’s the thing: taken at face value, on its own, the meme was aimed solely at the attitude and cultural ethos of what is mostly a conservative Evangelical Christian view of immigrants.
The ensuing conversation over the course of the weekend was very revealing. We got a ton of “likes,” but not from everybody. Many who opposed it made sure to make their voices heard! Some wrote nasty things about immigrants. Some called us not-so-nice names. Some told us we weren’t “true libertarians.” We were even accused of being “taken captive by vain philosophies” and didn’t obey God’s commands.
These responses confirmed the reason that we had created the meme in the first place: how we treat those on the margins of society is immensely important to God but strongly resisted by American Christians. Had the argument been made in a sermon on “loving thy neighbor,” it may have been more well-received. But the fact that it triggered so many people with such a pointed message is indication enough to me that, whatever policy about immigration is the best one for the United States, many of us need to repent of our attitudes toward and prejudices against those whom we call strangers (and yes, I will throw myself in this lot!).
So while I am ultimately convinced that something resembling open borders is the most consistent libertarian position, I do believe a libertarian argument can be made against open borders. I also believe some people have legitimate fears about a proposal for more open borders. Those critics have a seat at the debate table (well, at least the civil ones do), and their concerns should be heard.
But if we claim to follow the Messiah Jesus and aim to live like God expects, our attitudes toward others should undergo a rigorous scrutiny. After this we might more adequately defend our position on national border policy, but we won’t be triggered to the point of making excuses for not following in the footsteps of Jesus because of our political preferences. Jesus should always trump politics.