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The Bible Is Not a Friend of Immigrants

In commenting on the current family separation disaster that is occurring at our borders, biblical scholars mostly have perpetuated a benign view of the Bible’s stance on immigration. The Bible, as commonly defined by Jews or Christians, presents far more complex and contradictory views of immigrants that range from acceptance to genocide. Jesus, as portrayed in the Gospels, also offers morally contradictory views on children and immigrants. Using the Bible to support a liberal or conservative Jewish or Christian position also perpetuates a form of textual imperialism that still retains the Bible’s place as a moral authority today. That approach will not help oppressed immigrants in the long term.

This is an extensively revised and updated version of the chapter “Immigrants ‘R’ US: Attitudes Toward Immigrants in the Bible,” in Frances Flannery and Rod Werling, eds., The Bible in Political Debate: What Does It Really Say? (London: Bloomsbury/T&T Clark, 2016), pp. 33-46. -What-Really-ebook/dp/B01J3E37G2

By Hector Avalos
Religious Studies
Iowa State University
June 2018

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