Last night a group of people met at Chalice for discussion of a Resolution that has been presented for adoption by the Christian Church in Arizona at our Regional Assembly October 23. We call this once-monthly discussion event The Forum, and each time we aim to discuss a challenging or controversial topic with the aim of increasing understanding and building relationship. Jim Barton led this challenging, civil discussion in a style that allowed us to navigate a reading of Arizona's SB 1070 and a page of scripture references to the treatment of "aliens," and voice our opinions on the Resolution in just over an hour. Many opinions were expressed, many questions asked, with no evidence of universal agreement on where we stand on the resolution. We left wanting more discussion.
This blog is committed to being a voice for doing justice. Justice is a very complex notion. The Levitical laws about treatment of "aliens" include a requirement that they keep the law as a citizen kept the law, be subject to the same punishments a citizen could receive, in exchange for being treated with the same dignity a citizen would receive, along with a reminder to treat the "alien" with compassion and empathy. Several participants last night noted the irrelevance of Levitical law concerning aliens to our contemporary immigration laws. Indeed we do not live by Levitical law. It does, however, inform our faith as followers of Jesus. So what can we learn from scripture about justice? Justice involves rules and consequences for either following them or breaking them, and it seems that justice also includes fairness and compassion, even toward outsiders. How on earth are we to construct, define, do justice?