After I posted my last blog on immigration, a friend of mine, who happens to also be an immigration attorney, contacted me. He offered to send me some facts on immigration. I am so thankful to him for this information as it really clarified the situation for me. I feel that it is very important to do research and share actual facts instead of relying on unknown sources and opinions of others which may not be based in fact.
The truth is that most immigrants are not criminals. This is a fact based on many studies. Trump wants the citizens of the U.S. to believe that crime is “pouring into the country”, but the facts are that this simply isn’t true. In fact, experts say that today’s immigration policy is mostly based on fear rather than facts.
According to the article “The Criminalization of Immigration in the United States”, written by Walter Ewing, PhD, Daniel Martinez, PhD and Ruben Rumbaut, PhD:
“Innumerable studies have confirmed two simple yet powerful truths about the relationship between immigration and crime: Immigrants are less likely to commit serious crimes or be behind bars than the native-born, and high rates of immigration are associated with lower rates of violent crime and property crime.”
How can we be sure about this? Well, here are some important statistics:
Between 1990 and 2013, the number of unauthorized immigrants grew from 3.5 million to 11.5 million. During that same period of time, violent crime in the U.S. declined by 48 percent, and property crime declined by 41 percent.
A study showed that in 2010, 1.6 percent of immigrant males aged 18-39 were incarcerated as compared to 3.3 percent of those who are native-born. In addition, the 1980, 1990 and 2000 censuses showed that the incarceration rate of native-born persons were 2-5 times higher than for immigrants. Among the less-educated, the incarceration rate for native-born citizens was 10.7 percent while the Mexican rate was 2.8 percent and the Salvadoran/Guatemalan rate was 1.7 percent.
These stats clearly show that overall, immigrants are not the dangerous criminals that Trump likes to push people to believe. Yes, there are always going to be some dangerous people who try to cross the border, but these people are clearly in a minority, and it is imperative to understand this fact instead of viewing all immigrants as criminals.
I will get into much more detail in future blogs about how immigrants are being criminalized, but for now, I will give you a general idea of what is happening in the system.
Since about 1996, immigration laws have become increasingly stringent. From the years 2000 to 2010, there was a significant increase in the incarceration rate of immigrants due to these stricter laws. New classes of felonies were developed which only applied to immigrants. More minor offenses such as illegal entry or traffic offenses are now considered “criminal”. Essentially, the government is not applying the same rules to immigrants as to those who are native-born. For immigrants, a minor offense can get them detained and deported whereas the same offense committed by someone who is a native of the U.S. would get a suspended sentence or a fine.
In 2014, Obama recognized the problem with the immigration policies. So many immigrants were being detained and deported because of the stricter laws that he recognized that the U.S. government did not have all the resources they needed to process all of them. It also became apparent that by using so many resources to deport immigrants who pose no threat, they were using less of their resources on keeping the drug cartels and human traffickers out of the U.S. Through executive action, Obama provided a temporary reprieve from deportation along with work authorizations to 5.3 million immigrants. This eased the strain on resources and allow immigration enforcement officials to put more time and effort toward keeping actual criminals such as drug cartels out of the country.
Enter Trump and his administration. In March, 2017, John Kelly told CNN in an interview that he was considering separating children from their families at the border if they enter the country illegally. So the administration had been considering this since early in Trump’s presidency. Then, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the implementation of the zero-tolerance policy in April, 2018. This policy criminalizes everyone who crosses the border illegally, and as a result, all children would be separated from their families. The children would automatically go to the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement while their parent/parents are criminally prosecuted. As a result, over 2,000 children were separated from their families in a period of a couple of months.
So what exactly happened here? Well, in previous administrations, families generally were allowed to stay together. They were usually released together to await their case in court. Under Trump’s zero tolerance policy, all families who crossed illegally are separated and the adults are criminally prosecuted. However, remember how, since about 1996, the immigration rules had progressively become stricter? Even under Bush, Clinton and Obama, immigrants were treated more harshly than native-born Americans. So the implementation of Trump’s zero-tolerance policy was particularly harsh.
During the time that children were separated, Trump and others in his administration insisted on many occasions that the law forced them to separate children from their parents. This is false. There is no law that says that children must be separated from their families at the border. However, there are restrictions on how long a minor can be held in custody. The 1997 Flores settlement says that a minor cannot be held in custody for more than 20 days. This complicates the matter at the border, but let’s be very clear – there is no law that says that children must be separated from their families.
Now, let’s think about this zero tolerance policy for a minute. We have already seen in the past that the immigration system is strained because we are criminalizing immigrants who pose no threat to the U.S. (asylum seekers). By putting the zero tolerance policy into place, the system is strained past its limits. We saw this with the “tent city” that was being erected to house separated children. If Trump and his administration had done any research at all, they would have known that this policy was doomed to failure. The U.S. government does not have the resources to criminalize every single immigrant that crosses the border, and it’s ridiculous to do so since the majority of them are asylum seekers that pose no threat to the U.S. In addition, there are little to no resources left to aggressively pursue the detention and deportation of known drug cartel members and human traffickers. I hope you see how ridiculous and unprepared this administration is when it comes to immigration enforcement.
This Trump disaster didn’t last long. The uproar over the separations pushed Trump into signing an executive order to stop the separations. Still, Trump constantly says that crime is “pouring into our country” with the influx of these immigrants. He makes it sound like all immigrants are criminals. I see pro-Trumpers say on social media that all immigrants need to be stopped from coming into the U.S. because they are all criminals. They also insist that “most” immigrants are violent drug cartel members and/or human traffickers. These false views are fueled by Trump’s false statements, and this needs to stop.
Part II to come soon…
Well, it has been several weeks since I wrote one of these blogs, and there is good reason for that. I am the founder of Adenomyosis Fighters, a support group for those suffering from the uterine disorder adenomyosis. About two weeks ago, I published my third book on the disorder! It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, but I am so happy that this book is finally finished so women can get a hold of it to help them deal with this disorder.
Today, I am going back to Matthew. We stopped in Chapter 23.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!” Matthew 23:23-24
This specific passage reminds me of my spiritual journey regarding my political views. I feel like today, I see more clearly than I did 10 years ago. Let me explain.
Ten years ago, I was a strong Republican for mainly one reason – the abortion issue. I am pro-life, and that is the main reason why I was never a Democrat. I watched Fox News all the time and never watched CNN or MSNBC. However, since Trump took office, I saw a side of the Republican party that I did not like one bit. In the past year, I have seen a tremendous amount of hate coming from the right (Remember Charlottesville?). I didn’t recognize the Republican party that I had fully supported for the majority of my life.
I decided to watch CNN. I listened to some family members that were Democrats. I realized that Democrats were not “evil” as some on the right want us to believe. In fact, I saw much more compassion for others coming from the left than from the right. As I listened to the left-leaning media for the first time, I realized that this party showed much more mercy toward those who are suffering while those on the right seemed to be quite a bit more judgmental and lacking in mercy. I had to rethink my political views, and I realized that some of them had been wrong. I realized that neither party was perfect…that each party could actually learn from each other if they would just put their differences aside.
Jesus tells us in the above passage that by focusing on one issue, we will neglect other important issues. Many Republicans including some friends of mine are so laser focused on the abortion issue that they are blind to other important issues in the world today (such as compassion). Yes, they are pro-life, but what about after birth? The Republicans want to make cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. They have also made cuts to Obamacare. So they are pro-life as long as the baby is in utero, but once he/she is born, then they want to cut programs that may help those same children?? Is this truly pro-life? No. They sound pro-life until we start talking about money…then money becomes the number one priority. Remember, Jesus also told us “you cannot serve both God and money.”
Let’s not forget some of the other issues out there: the cancellation of DACA, not welcoming the stranger by building a border wall, Trump’s attacks against the Justice department, etc. Let’s look at part of that passage again:
“[you] have neglected the weightier matters of the law: JUSTICE AND MERCY AND FAITH.” Matthew 23:23
Let that sink in for a minute.
The lesson? By becoming laser focused on one issue (abortion), we are neglecting other matters such as justice and mercy. Don’t let one issue blind you to the rest of God’s Word.
Have a great day!
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1
This is a verse that I hear many evangelicals repeat over and over again. Another popular one is Romans 10:9:
“…because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
These are wonderful passages. How comforting it is to know that if you truly believe in Jesus, your sins will be forgiven and you will be saved. In this Easter season, we should never forget that Jesus suffered tremendously and gave up His life in order to save us from our sins. How wonderful!! I am so incredibly thankful for the free gift that Jesus gave to us!!
But is that the end of the story? Is that all we have to do to be saved? Well, not exactly. Yes, the evangelicals are correct in saying that if we truly believe, we will be saved. However, the key word here is “truly”.
First, let me address several evangelical teachings that are correct. First of all, Paul does say that we are no longer under the law.
“But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we are slaves not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.” Romans 7:6
In addition, Paul does say that we are not justified through deeds:
“For no human being will be justified in his sight by deeds prescribed by the law; for through the law comes knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:20
However, some evangelicals have a tendency to cherry pick scripture. They like to point out the passages they like but then they seem to ignore what else Paul said. The above scripture passages are beautiful; however, without reading the rest of Romans, you could be easily misled. Here are some statements by Paul in the book of Romans that counter evangelical beliefs:
“Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.” Romans 3:31
“What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it?” Romans 6:1-2
“Therefore do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies to make you obey their passions.” Romans 6:12
“What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one who you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” Romans 6:15
The point I am making in this blog is that you cannot cherry pick scripture. Yes, Paul says that a person is not justified through deeds, and he also said that those who truly believe in Jesus are no longer under the law. Like I said earlier, the key word here is “truly”. Remember what I pointed out in my previous blogs – just because a person says “Jesus is my Savior” does not mean that person TRULY believes. Remember that Jesus said that not everyone who says ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven. It is all about what is in a person’s heart and if a TRUE SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION has taken place. If you really take the time to read Romans….really read it slowly…you will see how Paul makes this exact point. If a person has TRULY accepted Jesus and is a TRUE Christian, his/her actions will automatically follow – he/she will do their best to avoid sin and to act in a Christ-like manner.
So how do we know if someone is a true Christian? Well, none of us really know because only God knows what is in a person’s heart. However, Jesus taught us how we, as human beings, can begin to distinguish between true and false Christians when he said, “By their fruits you will know them.” We are not to judge others; however, we are also not to condone sin. The only way for us to discern good from evil is by watching a person’s actions, and it is up to us, as true Christians, to rebuke sin when we witness it.
I think it is obvious that by cherry picking scripture, some evangelicals have gone off track. Some of these people support Donald Trump, and if you look at EVERYTHING that Paul says in Romans, not just select scripture passages, you will see that true Christians should be rebuking Trump for his immoral/unethical behavior. True Christians should never, ever support a person who says he never ask for forgiveness and who is waist-deep in sin. We should pray for Trump, but we should never condone his behavior.
Have a wonderful Easter! God bless!
I learned something after writing Part 5 of this Bible study.
I learned that the book of James is not accepted by all mainstream religions.
Why? Because James doesn’t talk as much about faith as in other books of the Bible. His focus is more on works. Remember that James said “faith without works is dead.”
Some people don’t like this. Some believe that faith alone will get us into heaven…that what we do here on earth doesn’t matter. I even read that some religious groups don’t accept the words of James because they contradict what Paul said in his letters.
But do they?
Since Christians in general accept the words of Paul, I decided to move to Romans in Part 6 of this Bible study. I wanted to see if Paul’s words contradict what James said. Let’s take a look.
“They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die – yet they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them.” Romans 1:29-32
Let’s apply those verses to Trump and evangelical leaders today.
Trump is guilty of covetousness. One perfect example are his multiple affairs. Especially compelling today is the Stormy Daniels story.
Trump is full of deceit. He lies on average of 5 times per day. A recent example of his deceit are the lies he told to Justin Trudeau about the “trade deficit” with Canada. He even ADMITTED his deceit, and even laughed about it.
Trump is a slanderer. He calls people names on almost a daily basis. Just take a look at his Twitter feed.
Trump is haughty and boastful. How many times have you heard him brag about how he is the best President ever, that he has the largest crowds ever, and that we should feel lucky that he decided to run for President?
Now, let’s read Romans 1:32 again: “They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die – yet they not only do them, but EVEN APPLAUD OTHERS WHO PRACTICE THEM.”
Who applauds Trump even though he practices these sinful behaviors? That’s right – some evangelicals and even the preachers. Tony Perkins gave Trump a “mulligan” over the Stormy Daniels affair. Franklin Graham, even when confronted with all of Trump’s sinful behavior, says that Trump is “a good person.”
“For [God] will repay according to each one’s deeds: to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil.” Romans 2:6-9
It is very clear from those verses that Paul is saying that actions DO matter. This is in agreement with what is written in the book of James.
Now let me stop here and make it very clear that faith is extremely important. Belief in Jesus is very important. Our sins will be forgiven if we turn from sin and repent. His death on the cross will cover those sins. But some evangelicals want to believe that faith is the ONLY thing that matters, and it doesn’t matter what we do here on earth. Both James and Paul have said that by doing evil, we are sinning and we will be held accountable if we don’t turn from that sinful life – we have to leave it behind, pick up the cross and follow Jesus. That means turning away from sin. That doesn’t mean that we will be perfect – no one is. But we can’t do just anything willy nilly and not even try. That’s not going to work either.
Paul clarifies this even further:
“For it is NOT the HEARERS of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the DOERS of the law who will be justified.” Romans 2:13
Again, Paul drives home the point that the ones who will be justified will be those who ACT.
The last thing I would like to address today is the specific action of accepting Jesus as our Savior. Clearly this is very important as the Bible teaches us. But sometimes, I hear far-right evangelicals go as far as to say that those who have never heard about Jesus and who were never given an opportunity to accept Him will not go to heaven. I have always had a problem with this. God is love. Why then would God punish someone who was never told about Jesus? That just never seemed right to me.
Well, I found a passage in the gospel that refutes this thinking and I will share that at a later date. But today, I found yet another passage in Paul that refutes this idea.
A long time ago, my mom asked a priest about the fate of someone’s soul if they were never baptized. That priest told her not to worry – that there is something called the “baptism of desire”. He explained that if the person had a good heart and acted in a Christlike manner here on earth, God will take that into account, and just because he/she wasn’t baptized does not necessarily mean that they are not going to heaven. Well, when I read the following verse, it sounded like the “baptism of desire” that the priest explained to my mom all those years ago.
“When Gentiles who do not possess the law, do INSTINCTIVELY what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. They show that what the law requires is WRITTEN ON THEIR HEARTS, to which their own conscience also bears witness.” Romans 2:14-15
Paul goes on to make it even clearer:
“Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the law will condemn you that have the written code and circumcision but break the law.” Romans 2:27
Think about that for a moment, and then apply it to today. Paul is saying that those who have the Bible, know what it says, and goes to church but break the law will be condemned by those in who the law is “written on their hearts” but may not be able to go through all the rituals that people think need to be done in order to be fully Christian. Paul solidifies his point in Romans 2:29:
“Rather, a person is a Jew who is one INWARDLY, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart – it is spiritual and not literal.”
So what does this all mean? Well, it means first that we need to trust Jesus as our Savior. But it also means that when we accept Jesus, there will be an inward, spiritual transformation that will cause us to turn from our sinful ways. Our actions will change as a result. We will no longer go out and sin freely and then just ask for forgiveness that night. That is not the change that God wants or expects from us. He wants a spiritual transformation….one in which we turn from sin and try to live as Christ taught us to live according to the commandments.
Also, if people are not told about Jesus, that does not necessarily mean that they are doomed to hell. The law can be “written on the heart” even without the knowledge of Jesus. By saying that a person is going to hell just because they have never heard of Jesus is one of the reasons Jesus told us not to judge. We have to remember that we do not know what is in a person’s heart. The only one who has that information is God; therefore He is the ONLY ONE who can say whether or not someone is going to hell.
Have a great Saturday! God bless!
Today, I am going to take a little break from Matthew and jump to the book of James. It is only a few pages long but it is full of direction on how we must be “doers” and not just “hearers”. I think we need to take a good hard look at this little section of the Bible today.
Again, I hear many evangelicals say that actions don’t matter – all that matters is grace, and that if we confess “Jesus is our Savior” with our mouths, that is enough to get into heaven. Now let me make this very clear – we DO need to accept Jesus as our Savior. We DO need grace to get into heaven. By all means! But the point I am trying to make is that actions are also important, and that the teaching that we are to get into heaven by grace alone….without any work on our part….is incorrect.
In my search for answers, I found James to be quite enlightening. Many people focus on the gospels which are so important, but if you go further into the New Testament- into the letters of Paul, John, James, etc., it really clarifies things. This is where it clarified for me that actions do in fact matter.
“But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.” James 1:22
It doesn’t get any clearer than that. But let’s keep going:
“But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who ACT – they will be blessed in their doing.” James 1:25
These passages clearly refute the beliefs of some evangelicals who say that our works on this earth don’t matter, and all that matters is grace. These passages also directly apply to those evangelical preachers who turn a blind eye to Trump’s immoral behavior. They are not “doing”…they are not standing up and saying that Trump’s behavior is unacceptable.
“For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For the one who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said “You shall not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.” James 2:10-11
Let’s think about that for a moment. Some of the evangelicals and even other Christians constantly speak out against abortion. But these same people are quiet about Trump. Some even give Trump a “mulligan” for his adulterous affair with Stormy Daniels. Now, read the above passage again. Clearly James is telling us that this kind of behavior is wrong. We have to call out ALL sin, not just the sin that “fits” into our little box. You can’t pick and choose.
Going on, James clearly states that faith without works is dead:
“So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” James 2:17
Then James makes a statement that should make everyone think long and hard. He states that even the demons believe that God is real….and they shudder:
“Even the demons believe – and shudder.” James 2:20
Then he goes on to reiterate that works are a part of accepting Jesus fully:
“You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone…For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.” James 2:24-26
Now, as we read the next verse, let’s think about the evangelical preachers who are giving Trump a “mulligan” and who teach that we don’t have to act or to follow the Ten Commandments:
“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” James 3:1
Kind of scary, huh?
Now think about the obvious hypocrisy that we are witnessing in some evangelicals today. Remember, they jumped all over Bill Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal, but now these same evangelicals are mysteriously quiet about Trump. Also, a recent poll showed that during the Clinton administration, the percentage of evangelicals that said that moral behavior of a President wasn’t important was in the 20s. Today, under Trump, that number is in the 70s. What happened? Is it hypocrisy, or do the rules change depending on whether you are a Republican or Democrat?
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of PARTIALITY or HYPOCRISY.” James 3:17
James is very clear. These teachings and behaviors of evangelicals who still support Trump are not in line with true Christianity. My hope is that they will read this, pray about it, and return to the only path that leads us to Jesus.
I implore preachers like Franklin Graham, Tony Perkins, Andrew Wommack and others to rethink what they are teaching and to call out Trump on his immoral behavior.
I will close with this:
“Anyone then who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it commits sin.” James 4:17
Have a wonderful weekend! God bless!