There’s an old proverb that says it is better to be silent and thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and confirm the suspicion. Unfortunately, the PCUSA General Assembly Committee on Social Justice Issues B: the Exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the World seems unaware of that advice. As a result, they have passed (43-8-0) an overture on the Arizona immigration law that confirms what many have guessed:
1. Refrain from holding national meetings at hotels or non-PC(USA) conference centers in those states where travel by immigrant Presbyterians or Presbyterians of color or Hispanic ancestry might subject them to harassment due to legislation similar to Arizona Law SB 1070/HB2162.
That would be all fifty of them, given that Arizona’s law mirrors the federal law that already allows for actions by federal law enforcement officials that “might subject them to harassment” as defined (or not) by the committee. In order to implement this provision, the PCUSA would have to start holding all of its meetings in Toronto or Tijuana. They then compound the problem by advocating that PCUSA facilities deliberately set out to break the law:
b. If such laws are passed in states where the PC(USA) camp & conference centers are located, the 219th General Assembly (2010) encourages those centers to develop ‘sanctuary’ responses that would create safe places for all participants, allowing the denomination to continue to support its own conference centers, and encourages the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program of the General Assembly Mission Council to offer support to partners across the denomination as they develop a process to train volunteers to document abuses and collect data on those abuses to share with the broader church.
I can understand and agree with the need for civil disobedience in the face of an unjust law. Problem is, of course, that the stuff in the Arizona law to which the committee objects have been part of federal law since FDR. If they weren’t unjust for the last seventy years, it is hard to see why they suddenly become unjust when enforced by a state. The result is that, if passed by General Assembly, it would be the official position of the PCUSA that its camp and conference centers should plan on breaking U.S. immigration law despite the lack of protest, or recognition of immorality in such law, for decades past. So what we have here is a combination of legal ignorance and moral grandstanding.
(Via the Presbyterian Outlook.)