No Legal Precedent, but Lots of Self-Righteousness

A legal scholar weighs in on local governments (think Boston) and churches that are creating sanctuaries for refugees:

While many cities have already begun to declare themselves sanctuary spaces for the undocumented, in fact there is currently no body of law or judicial precedent to which they are appealing.

“There’s really no legal definition of what sanctuary means,” explained Pham. (Even the most recent 1983 Code of Canon Law no longer refers to the practice.)

A bizarre result is that definition of the term “sanctuary” will end up coming from the executive branch.

“The President is threatening to withhold funding from sanctuary cities,” Pham said. “When he writes an executive order to do so, he’s going to have to define what it means.”

Some religious institutions might consider claiming that the declaration of sanctuary is an exercise of the rights afforded to religious organizations under the First Amendment. But that tactic will be of limited use to those seeking sanctuary, Pham said.

Such a claim, he explained, “is going to be resolved through a legal process through the courts, months later. It won’t be resolved then and there. And by that time the undocumented person may have already been arrested and deported.”

Pham also pointed out, “The housing of undocumented people is not necessarily covered under the First Amendment.”

So, the first thing to know, Pham said, is that to declare oneself a sanctuary “is mainly a symbolic statement of support.

In other words, no real help to the refugees, but lots of solace to the self seeking the superior life.

Are Christians as Scary as Muslims?

In the current issues of New Horizons, I ran across an editorial note about the Islamic presence in Britain. According to the Gatestone Institute, an international policy council:

. . . Sharia courts, which operate in mosques and houses across Britain, routinely issue rulings on domestic and marital issues according to Islamic Sharia law that are at odds with British law. Although Sharia rulings are not legally binding, those subject to the rulings often feel obliged to obey them as a matter of religious belief, or because of pressure from family and community members to do so.

I understand that Presbyterianism has never enjoyed a glowing reputation among the English — the 1640s and all that — but would it not be the case that Presbyterian courts also issue rulings on domestic and marital issues according to biblical teachings that are at odds with British law. For instance, Presbyterians likely believe that divorce is a sin. British law, I suspect, does not forbid divorce (even if it regulates it).

Same goes for here in the U.S. The OPC has a constitution that requires sessions, presbyteries, and assemblies to make rulings that do not follow the laws of individual states or federal law. So, part of the OPC’s constitution (Book of Church Order) reveals a way of thinking about marriage and its norms that is not the same as U.S. law:

Accordingly, God has designed marriage for the enrichment of the lives of those who enter into this estate, for the orderly propagation of the human race, for the generation of a holy seed, and for the avoidance of sexual immorality, all to the glory of the covenant God. Husbands and wives thus have responsibilities befitting God’s purposes for their relationship. The Holy Scripture says, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for [her].” The husband is to love his wife as his own body, to care for her, and to cherish her. The Holy Scripture says also, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” The wife is to submit to her husband, to respect him, and to entrust herself to his loving care. Both husbands and wives are to be faithful to each other, to assist each other in all good things, to heartily forgive each other their sins and shortcomings, and to love each other as themselves. Thus united in love, they will more and more reflect in their marriage the unity of Christ and his church.

The question, then, is whether Christians either are capable viewing themselves as outsiders under a secular government or recognizing Muslims as sharing a position similar to ours within a secular nation.