Ohio Gov. John Kasich told CNN Thursday that “the Lord” doesn’t want Americans to build walls and oppose the migrant caravan heading to the United States from Central America.
“We’ve got to start putting ourselves in the shoes of other people,” Kasich told CNN’s Newsroom.
Kasich, the grandson of Catholic immigrants from Eastern Europe who became an Anglican Christian as an adult, said he believes most Americans would welcome the caravan.
We’ve got to start thinking about the consequences that others suffer. And if we have been spared those by the grace of God, let us be appreciative, let us count our blessings, and let us reach out to those who have less. Let’s stop putting up walls around ourselves and not understanding the plight, the trouble, and the problems of others. It is not right. And the Lord doesn’t want it, and our people at their hearts want to reach out to others. Look at what they do in these storms. They go and they rescue people they don’t know. They put them in their homes. They feed them. That’s America. Not all this garbage and this division and yelling and screaming and hatred on all sides.”
But not all Christians agree with the governor’s take on biblical truth.
Kelly Kullberg, a Christian Ohioan who is editor and co-author of Finding God at Harvard, leads the new American Association of Evangelicals and has served as a missionary in Guatemala and El Salvador. She said the Bible has a lot to say about nations, but nowhere does it teach nations to open their borders to mass migration.
“While I appreciate Gov. Kasich’s Christian faith and compassion, I would encourage him to reconsider the nature of love and the balanced wisdom of Scripture,” Kullberg told The Ohio Star. “The Bible does not teach open borders, but wise welcome.”
Kullberg said the Bible has four words for “foreigner” in Hebrew. One word indicates those who come lawfully as blessings; the word really means “converts,” like Ruth and Rahab. These foreigners are to be embraced as citizens.
Two other Hebrew words indicate temporary visitors or guest workers, to be treated kindly while passing through.
A fourth word indicates a danger, someone who does not come lawfully to assimilate and bless a nation, and is not to be welcomed. (See Dr. James Hoffmeier’s classic book, The Immigration Crisis).
“Rarely do folks quoting the Bible on immigration ever mention that Nehemiah and Ezra led their nation in the rebuilding of its faith, culture and walls,” Kullberg said. “Or that, in Isaiah 1, God considers it a curse and tragedy when a nation is overrun by foreign influence.”
DHS and ICE record many thousands of crimes against American citizens by people here illegally. And Kullberg believes God is grieved when a nation doesn’t protect its citizens, while remaining open to those who come lawfully as blessings.
“We’re to be stewards and gardeners, using wisdom to grow a beautiful culture,” she said.
Kullberg said she noticed something else about the caravan that Kasich apparently didn’t.
“I don’t agree with the governor that people, such as the young and strong men in these ‘caravans,’ should flee their home nations,” she said. “I love Guatemala and worked there as a missionary with widows and children. When sons leave, they leave behind vulnerable grandparents, women and children. What if we and they put creative effort, wisdom and the curious money behind these marches, into the protection and growth of their local villages and cities?”
“That’s what the Bible teaches us to do. The Gospel and its teaching are to uplift every nation,” she added. “That’s why I went with teams of grad students to help build homes, small businesses, a medical clinic and school in Guatemala, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and Peru.”
Kasich has always been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, both before and after he was elected in 2016. On Wednesday, in an interview with MSNBC, Kasich blamed Trump for the bomb-scare packages that were mailed to 10 prominent Democrats.
Kullberg said she encourages the governor to honor the common sense of Ohioans, and how they voted in 2016.
“I ask him to honor struggling American workers who deserve to not be replaced by cheaper foreign labor,” she said. “He could look into the orchestrated, political nature of much mass migration, who funds it and why.”
She said Kasich would also do well to “brush up on the concept of sovereign nations – and the Book of Nehemiah.”
“The whole counsel of Scripture is the highest love for human beings, and the highest good for cultures and nations.”
Watch the interview:
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Anthony Accardi is a writer and reporter for The Ohio Star.