Saturday, August 18, 2007

Sanctuary

This article at Christianity Today gives some of the history of the principle of sanctuary, and perhaps hints at a legitimate role for the church against statism. But it falls short of understanding fundamental subtleties on law.

"As a product of a time when justice was rough and crude," law professor Wayne Logan summarized in a 2003 Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review article, "sanctuary served the vital purpose of staving off immediate blood revenge." If the church could be convinced that the sanctuary seeker's life was not in danger, it would turn him over. "The church, in short, played a foremost role as intercessor," Logan writes. Fugitives in medieval English sanctuaries, about 1,000 a year, were able to negotiate financial compensation or a punishment like scourging or exile.


So the church plays the role of the judiciary by providing a recourse to violence. Justice would be served through a trial process instead of through violence. This is only possible through the Church.

Well, today many churches are choosing to play a similar role in providing sanctuary to illegal immigrants. Christianity Today denounces this action, claiming that the immigrant's life is not in jeopardy, so the church should not intervene. And the Acton Institute seems to agree.

I say nonsense.

It is imperative that we recognize the difference between natural law and legislated arbitrary law.

The natural law protects life liberty and property and enforces contracts.
Arbitrary law is primarily a vehicle for privilege. Laws restricting immigration are no different from laws restricting trade in that they are anti-competitive protectionist measures which award a privilege to incumbant citizens. Such laws are unjust due to their arbitrary and pre-judicial nature. They are pagan, and there exists no justification, moral or consequentialist for such evils.

Therefore, these churches are exercising precisely the correct action in accord with the Christian Ethic. They are protecting the innocent from violence and loss of liberty and property.

The New Sanctuary Movement is one group mobilizing to protect and encourage this action by churches. I am all for it so long as the pendulum doesn't swing so far as to advocate state support for impoverished immigrants.

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