There’s a time and a place to rat out your neighbor, but church isn’t it

As a followup to Sam’s post on Mormons referring other Mormons to the ICE, this post is directed to those who feel called to enforce the law in their spare time (or who feel pretty good about other people doing so): Regardless of where you stand on (il)legal immigration, church is simply not the venue where we gather to police civil infractions.

Before rolling your eyes too hard, note that what this post does not do is suggest that the law stops at the chapel’s door. In my experience the Church strives to be in compliance with every jot and tittle of the law, including zoning laws and building codes; we’ve even recast the kitchens in our meeting houses as “serving areas” in order to comply with safety and health regulations! Certainly there is no obligation to sit on our hands and let Zion go to hell in a hand basket with expired tags. Nor am I suggesting we have no debate about the moral implications of, say, an immigration policy that calls for separating families who cross the border illegally as a deterrence. At the same time, however, worshiping and ministering are not first and foremost about law enforcement.

In making my case, let me begin by sharing what I hope is an illustrative example of the importance of the proper venue for our undertakings.

I spent last week at an informal meeting where members of a United Nations committee hashed out the text of a draft resolution on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space. While this might seem like a pretty straightforward, even dry topic, it turns out that passions run high when it comes to access to and the use of outer space, and the negotiations were difficult.

One thing that’s important to understand is that in Vienna, negotiations are conducted on the basis of consensus. Also, all participants are sovereign and can do as they please. What this means is that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, and any single participant could potentially torpedo an entire undertaking. So how do you get anything done when everyone is a potential spoiler?

Well, it helps to have a wise and creative chair who can read and leverage the readiness of participants to compromise. But sometimes participants feel strongly about an intractable issue that no wordsmithing can paper over. So what then? In that case, one option is to decide whether the issue falls under the area of activity officially assigned to the organization in question; if it doesn’t, you can insist that it be dealt with in the proper forum and rely on past practice and peer pressure to encourage the member who tabled a proposal to take it elsewhere.

We had just such a case last week. After a prominent member of the committee made an unrelated announcement last Tuesday, another member came back the next day with a proposal to add a reference to the resolution condemning the weaponization of outer space (in reference to this) to an already contentious paragraph. This was a proposal that no one else could accept and it threatened to stall negotiations; under the circumstances, running out the clock would mean effectively no resolution, wasting a lot of effort and missing opportunities for the future.

In the end, negotiations were able to proceed without the weaponization reference and agreement was reached by consensus on a draft resolution that will now wend its way to the UN General Assembly. What saved the day was not arm-twisting by powerful members of the committee but appeals by countries that actually shared the views of the proposing member on the weaponization of outer space to select the proper venue to debate its valid concerns. They argued that while they too felt strongly about the issue, it fell outside the committee’s mandate—there is a time and a place to debate that issue where the country in question would have their full support, but that time was not this week and that place was not Vienna (rather the CD in Geneva). The point wasn’t that the issue couldn’t be discussed at all, just that the proper time and place were essential elements of a constructive discussion.

Let’s get back to leveraging the relationships you establish at church to police civil infractions. I mean, you could show up and, say, start checking the parking lot for non-moving violations—we are all moral agents, after all, just like the sovereign members of a UN committee—but why on earth would you bother to go to church just to elide the distinction Jesus made during his ministry? Moreover, if the only reason you know someone’s name and immigration status is because of your association with them at church—and you are not some kind of mandated reporter (is there such a thing for immigration issues?)—how can reporting this information to the authorities be anything other than a breach of trust?

But if the thought of sham marriages, forged documents and overstayed visas going unpunished keeps you up at night, consider seeking the guidance of your ecclesiastical leaders for possible careers in law enforcement. Barring that, consider being upfront about your law enforcement hobby—let those with whom you share a pew know that you have a code that could land them in hot water if they confide too much. That way you can be true to your principles and they can choose their level of interaction with you.

In the meantime, let’s be more like the Germans at church. The graphic below is from a regular feature of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, one of the largest dailies in Germany, called “Perceived Truth,” a tongue-in-cheek opinion poll on everyday situations.

This one illuminates “What Germans Worry About at the Bakery”

Legend

  • The yellow portion of the pie chart: “That the man next to you might have crossed the border illegally”
  • The blue portion of the pie chart: “That the man next to you doesn’t know that your turn is before his”

IMG_2214 (1)

Let’s go back to worrying about your neighbor’s noisy kids, chronic illnesses and spiritual welfare at church. Their immigration status can wait til Monday. In the meantime, there are bigger fish (donuts?) to fry.

 

Comments

  1. it's a series of tubes says:

    Peter, you and I have disagreed vehemently on this blog over the years, but please allow me to say this: I agree. Completely. As BCC posted on Twitter a while back: if you call ICE on your ward member, I’m quite certain you are going to hell.

  2. jaxjensen says:

    Why would “because you know them from church” be more wrong than “they are the next door neighbors” or “know them from work” or “our kids go to school together”? I’ve never called ICE for any reason, but I’m not sure that the context under which I know a person would influence my decision on whether I thought I should.

    What I’m saying is that if someone is aware of someone’s illegal immigration status, and thinks that it is a big enough problem to call ICE, would they really go through the decision making paradigm of “If I knew them because of work I’d call ICE, but because I know them from church I won’t”? If they think immigration status is important enough to make the call, I’m not sure that HOW they know them is a factor in their decision making. I don’t think they’d actually make the call FROM church, because as you say, it can wait until Monday.

  3. Thanks, IASOT. Believe it or not, my own views have changed over the years in response to those I don’t always agree with, so I’m glad you’ve stuck it out!

    I’m not sure that the context under which I know a person would influence my decision on whether I thought I should.

    How we find out and use information can be an actual crime in other circumstances, so I’m not sure why context should never matter when it comes to moral issues. No doubt you are correct that most people don’t think much about context, however.

  4. And more to Peter’s point: the context almost invariably matters. If I know that somebody committed a crime because I saw her commit the crime, I certainly can (and perhaps should) report her. If, on the other hand, I know because she told me in an attorney-client relationship, I cannot (with a couple small exceptions). If I know because she told me in a clergy-penitent relationship, I probably cannot tell (though it depends on the state).

    If you discover that someone is in the country illegally because you live next door, and you decide to report them to ICE, I’d argue that’s a terrible thing, but that’s not what Peter’s talking about here. If you discover it because of your church relationship—as their bishop, or as their home teacherministering person or because of a comment they made in Sunday School—it’s not only inappropriate to report them, but, like tubes said, you’re going to hell.

  5. John Mansfield says:

    Agreeing with everything written above, it leaves me with the quandary: Why do a self-governing people require external agents to enforce their laws? If collectively we think there should be no parking restrictions in our municipality, then there should be no restrictions. If we think there should be restrictions, then why, besides convenience, pass the buck for keeping scofflaws in line? It seems we prefer having external forces that keep our world in order, an order that we can pretend we had no role in establishing. Maybe in the abstract we like the idea of laws, but find putting them into effect to much to bear and have to adopt a passive role without responsibilities.

  6. Love this post. Speaking from North Carolina, several churches here have provided physical sanctuary (a historically permitted use of churches) from ICE. That use is in stark contrast to calling ICE on a fellow member or attender or acquaintance. I prefer the definition of sanctuary that incorporates safety, salvation, and holiness.

  7. “church is simply not the venue where we gather to police civil infractions”
    Lest this be extrapolated into a “get out of politics” argument, there is an important layer which relates to matters that the Church (capital C institutional Church) makes an issue and matters the Church does not. (There’s a nice contrast in current affairs, where the Church has spoken on immigration matters, but has let Kirton McConkie speak on medical marijuana.)

    Note that I have lots of problems with the selection and the selection process, about when the LDS Church speaks. I wish the Church would say more on immigration. I wish Kirton McConkie would say less on medical marijuana. But none of my personal opinion alters the fact there there is a distinction. I think there are matters on which a church should speak out. I think Dietrich Bonhoeffer had it right.

  8. jaxjensen says:

    I absolutely agree that a bishop of SP calling ICE because of info from interviews would be terrible. But if a comment is made in SS … not as much. If they are willing to let it be known publicly, then why couldn’t a person inform the public officers? If they don’t keep it a secret, why should their ward members? I don’t think of SS as being some kind of quasi-confidential setting.

    Does anybody know of any instances where a church leader has asked someone here illegally to “repent” of that before allowing baptism or temple recommend? That would be a fascinating thing to examine on how HQ would view such an happening.

  9. I’ve been in council meetings where mandatory reporters were excused before some topics were introduced so that issues could be discussed frankly and they were not put on the spot. I don’t recall the topics but they weren’t immigration. I’ve also participated in discussions about how to help a young man get legal status so he could serve a mission. In every case the concern was with people. I also was involved when a student made a poor choice and later confessed to his seminary teacher about severely vandalizing the church building. I called the boy’s bishop. The teacher was a police detective and apologized before calling our local police as he was mandated to do. It was a very interesting morning.

  10. jax, so you’re not interested in a Zion community, where people can feel safe opening up to each other at church?

    I included this on my post, but the church explicitly says that immigration status shouldn’t prevent someone from receiving the priesthood or going to the temple. So I have to assume they would look askance at local leadership who tried to deny either thing on the basis of immigration status. https://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/avoiding-being-judgmental-immigration

  11. jaxjensen says:

    Sam, I’m immensely interested in Zion. Could you please point out even a minimal effort it is happening so I can join in?

    I know the church says it shouldn’t. I’m wondering if anyone knows of when it did anyway? Did the bishop or SP get reprimanded/released? Was it changed? Did nobody question it? Etc. Handbooks and rules are boring, and I’d rather talk about actual events and learn how things really took place.

  12. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    I’m reminded of all the times commenters have been reminded that we are not to pass judgement on others, that questioning a person’s worthiness is out of bounds at BCC. It’s something I have always found admirable here. The number of times people have bluntly stated that a person is going to hell, over the last couple of days, has been astounding. And I must say, this situation is a clear exception to that policy. If you call ICE on a neighbor/Ward member/etc., you will surely be thrust down to hell. I can’t think of a single motivation for doing so that wouldn’t immediately qualify a person for eternal damnation. Seriously, why would you do it? At best, it’s a petty desire to have everyone follow the letter of the law – and we know what Christ thought about that. At worst, it’s blatantly racist. And while people might claim it’s the former, it’s nearly always the latter, and don’t let their protestations to the contrary sway your opinion of them.

  13. Really excellent post and analogy Peter. I’m proud to know you!

  14. Kristine says:

    Turtle Named Mack–I don’t think anyone has called out a specific, named person. It is an action being denounced as sinful. And surely, in a Mormon context, saying that someone is “going to hell” is a merely rhetorical gesture, since we don’t actually believe in hell!

  15. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    I think that’s correct, Kristine – just the classification of a behavior that would qualify one for admittance to that metaphorical place where we like to think evil-doers will ultimately reside (hell). I’m just sayin’ that in this instance, I wouldn’t be opposed to directing the judgement towards specific individuals.

  16. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    Turtle Named Mack: one might even say that there are a lot of folks who are Lawful Neutral at best and more likely Lawful Evil, whereas Christ is on the boundary between Neutral Good and Chaotic Good.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go dust my Warhammer miniatures.

  17. Ryan Mullen says:

    John Mansfield asked “Why do a self-governing people require external agents to enforce their laws?” One reason that jumps to the top of my mind is that external agents receive training on what laws specifically require, what actions constitute infractions of the law, what the required penalties are, and how to enforce them. You and I can both agree that parking regulations are necessary, but I don’t want untrained individuals with no accountability enforcing them by slashing tires.

  18. Trust NO ONE with knowledge about yourself that could cause that much damage (destroyed families) if revealed. That is why it is called living in the shadows. Whether or not the rat goes to hell is of no importance once you are deported and banned for 10 years from coming back. Kids grow up in that amount of time, or the rest of the family become expats.

  19. I happen to be a resident alien, and due to global trends we have always had a few members of our ward with unsettled immigration status. I’m subject to the vagaries of immigration law myself, and I’ve seen how being out of step with the law makes life even more difficult for those with irregular status. So if anyone asks I always recommend doing the right thing.

    For example, one member was fined for entering the country without a passport. Since he was seeking asylum he was not arrested but his application would not be considered until he paid his fine. So, upon request, I accompanied him to the police station where we paid his fine and sorted things out. In my admittedly biased view, that’s the kind of approach I hope we would take for members of our congregations. Simply calling the authorities to report an infraction seems like a stingy half-measure at best if our goal is to set things right in the world.

  20. it's a series of tubes says:

    Lawful Neutral at best and more likely Lawful Evil

    Well played, Hepta, well played.

  21. Church is clearly not the place for any type of immigration “reporting”.

  22. During the season, I work as a tax preparer. One of the subjects discussed repeatedly in our office is not being drawn into a conspiracy to defraud the government by those whose taxes we prepare. We are regularly asked by clients how to avoid audit and whether they should change certain numbers. We are pressured by the financial advisors of our clients to pretend we have not seen the documents they sent us showing the accurate expenses versus the ones they now wish to report to the IRS. Many tell us they are hiding cash income and then become upset when we inform them they will need to report it. We cannot be party to creating tax returns we know to be fraudulent. We cannot do this and remain an ethical firm.
    If people wish to break the law, that is their choice. I am sure there are many valid reasons for doing so, especially those involved with trying to save the lives of their families. But they do not have the right to involve their ward members by casual comments in Sunday School or ask them to hide their offenses, civil or criminal. If they need help, let them contact an attorney or the bishop for help in making this right. Let them not ask others to hide their legal violations. Do not force others to be a party to this. That is not the right of those violating the immigration laws. If you believe the laws to be incorrect, straighten out your status and work to change the law. Many value their respect for obedience to the law. You do not have the right to ask them to violate their consciences. Mainly you do not have the right to tell them they will “go to hell” if their decisions differ from yours. When did you ever have that right?

  23. Anonforthis says:

    Not assisting with fraud in a tax context–or even in an immigration law context–is entirely different than reporting someone who’s violated immigration law. You’re not a party to a civil violation because someone admitted to it and you didn’t report it to the authorities. You’re not breaking the law by not going to ICE because you “know” someone’s undocumented.

  24. Loursat says:

    People have messy problems, and church ought to be a place where we can find help and relief dealing with our messy problems. Those problems include immigration issues. Kim’s idea that people have “no right” to reveal their immigration problems to their brothers and sisters at church is ridiculous. If you experience intolerable psychic distress because you become aware of immigration violations, then the problem is with you, not the undocumented immigrant.

  25. I am an ICE employee. Should I be considered the anti-Christ when I attend Sunday School just because my job, one of enforcing the laws of the land the way they are currently written, differ from your beliefs? There is an underlying assumption in all the arguments I have read here that civil disobedience is the highest civil virtue, even in a democracy where the citizens determine the laws. And yet, you do not disagree enough to run for legislative office to change those laws. You care enough to write a paragraph or so on a blog post read mainly by those who will verbally pat you on the back and give you the echo chamber praise you desire. You want to voice an opinion and through your words alone, change the opinions and actions of others to agree with you. Not really putting yourself on the line, are you? You feel free to verbally condemn others to hell whose actions differ from your beliefs. In others words, label and destroy the good name of others who think differently from you. Rather arrogant of you, I would say. But the hard work of determining workable border laws and enforcing those laws, you all are unwilling to undertake. Time to put up or shut up, I say.

  26. Kristine says:

    “And yet, you do not disagree enough to run for legislative office to change those laws.”

    Is there some way you know that, MK? Or know what the author is doing besides writing?

    And it’s not really a matter of just condeming people who “think differently.” It’s condemning people whose beliefs and actions run contrary to scriptural teachings and current prophetic declarations. There are plenty of issues on which faithful Mormons of good will can disagree (like, for instance, whether it’s moral to work for ICE under the Trump administration), but whether or not it’s ok to deliberately cause the breakup of a family in direct contravention of instruction by church leaders isn’t really one of them.

  27. MK, when you go after and deport missionaries, EQ Presidents, and branch presidents, and when you go and tear families apart, you are a threat to local missions, branches, and wards, and you are responsible for the destruction of families. You may justify your actions, like so many have before, by claiming that you’re just following orders–but you choose to stay in a job where you do evil things in the name of the law.

  28. This post gets at the heart of religion, and its relationship to the state. I personally don’t agree with our current immigration laws and feel no obligation to participate in their enforcement. But I wouldn’t rat out my neighbor no matter how I feel about immigration laws. Under no conditions would I advocate splitting up families.

    I also feel we have an obligation to our neighbors, in particularly if they are widows, poor, in danger, etc. It’s hard to believe that both camps–turn them in and don’t turn them in–are in the same church.

  29. Loursat says:

    MK, when we choose not to report an undocumented immigrant, that is not “civil disobedience.” There is no legal obligation to report immigration violations.

    And the political process has many facets, including the kind of discussion happening on this blog. We can actually participate in politics without running for office. We speak, we write, we vote.

  30. Yes, Tim says, we should staff ICE with people unwilling to enforce the laws of the land. That is a truly workable solution. And why in the world should the current LDS Church calling of a person have anything whatsoever to do with whether or not they are considered guilty of violating the laws? I guess if I want to rob the bank where you keep your money I should just accept that Elder’s Quorum President position. In your eyes, I should not be arrested because that would be a threat to my ward and the physical integrity of my family.

  31. Kim (and I think MK, although it’s Kim’s situation that I know most about), as a tax return preparer (or an ICE employee or police officer or several more categories) you have certain kinds of reporting obligations and acting obligations as a function of your job. It’s a regularly recognized problem. I have worked with a Stake President who was the police chief in his town. And another Stake President who was a senior FBI agent (I remember him coming in to a Stake leadership meeting right off 10 days working undercover). These are not novel or new concerns.

    My opinion is that in a church setting it is your responsibility to separate yourself from information that would trigger your obligation to report or to act. That may restrict your involvement. That may mean walking out of meetings. However it happens, it’s on you, not on the other members. I thought this was widely understood and common practice. I think that is the point of the OP (one version, anyway).

  32. Christian, I do not believe it is anyone’s responsibility to separate themselves from information requiring them to report. And besides, how can they when people might be revealing their immigration status during a Sunday School lesson, as was mentioned in an earlier post? Or a Relief Society Presidency meeting or an Elder’s Quorum meeting? Are they to give up Sunday School for fear of what someone might reveal in an offhand comment? Why should their involvement be restricted by someone else’s failure to abide by the law? No one has the right to label and name call ward members who feel the immigration laws need to be enforced. People are allowed to differ on this matter without being vilified.

  33. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    MK, how do you like working for an agency that takes pride in wanton cruelty? (“The shackles are off,” said Administrator Homan, even though the Obama Administration deported enormous numbers of people.) Just curious. In a vacuum the mission of ICE is perfectly innocuous, but we’re not in a vacuum, and the agency’s sadism is notorious.

    BTW I know an ICE agent out of the Los Angeles office. He is as nastily racist against blacks, Mexicans, and Central Americans as anyone you will ever meet, and his coworkers are mostly the same. Odd, because he’s the child of immigrants from Peru (and may actually be an immigrant himself), and at least 95 white Americans out of 100 wouldn’t be able to pick him out of a group of Mexicans or Chicanos of the same age. But, then, my grandfather–the son of a barely literate goatherd from the Peleponnese and the illiterate peasant girl he had sent from his home village once he’d established himself in the US–despised the Greek Civil War refugees resettled in his Orthodox parish in the ’50s; pulling up the ladder behind yourself, or at least stepping on the hands of the people below you, is a grand American tradition.

  34. Loursat says:

    The church does not exist for our convenience. It exists for our salvation. When we are inconvenienced by the problems of our fellow saints, that is a feature of the church, not a bug. Addressing such problems with love, generosity, and sacrifice is the essence of Christian discipleship.

  35. I do not know Heptaparaparshinokh says, how do you like being the racist, the bigot, the person who takes pride in being wantonly cruel? Why is your name calling acceptable? Can you not hear yourself? Do you not reread your post before you hit the Post Comment button?
    If you cannot learn to engage in an open discussion with others you differ in their opinions from you, please leave this post. You have no business being here.

  36. Loursat, I think this blog is a pretty useless way to actually engage in the political process. Especially this blog, which is so unwelcoming of the opinions of anyone who disagrees with the consensus opinion. If this matters to you is any real way, you will actually join the political process in a more active way by either running for office or actively supporting the candidacy of someone who holds the same political beliefs you do. Actively, with a real time and treasure commitment. Writing here accomplishes very little and as President Kimball taught, we must not only be good, we must be good for something.
    And I do not believe anyone has said they feel inconvenienced by the problems of their fellow ward members. They do feel sometimes these people have put them in a position where morally they feel obligated to act to support their values, which might differ from the values you place first. That is their right as much as it is yours to arrange your values in a different order or importance. Do we really need to question why the country is so polarized when people feel it acceptable to label others as racists simply because their values are different? As they say on Reddit, soon someone will compare the other to Hitler and the discussion will be over.

  37. Loursat says:

    It’s funny that people who think it’s useless to post comments here keep posting comments here.

  38. jaxjensen says:

    Eve, Heptaparaparshinokh routinely uses such language almost every time he posts. Someone is always racist/bigoted/evil/etc. But he toes the liberal line and seemingly launches ad hominins only at people with right-leaning views and therefore has never been censured (as far as I’ve been able to tell) for his attacks.

  39. Loursat, I said it was a useless way to engage in the political process. This blog is not the political process.

  40. Loursat says:

    Come on, Pattie. Talking about political problems and making people aware of the need to change their attitudes and take action is all part of the political process.

    Sigh. Now I have to ponder whether engaging with a troll is part of the political process.

  41. Thanks JaxJensen

  42. Madeline says:

    I guess it is easier to call someone a troll rather than engage in the conversation. I do not consider posting on the blog as engaging in the political process. There is no meaningful attempt to engage with opinions that differ from the OP. Sooner or later someone who agrees with the OP attempts to give what they consider the authoritative last word on the subject then shuts off the comments.
    At a certain point, liberal Democrats are going to need to ask themselves why so many people back Donald Trump on the issue of illegal immigration. (Please, no labeling these people racists. The ones I know are not racist. They have real concerns.) If you cannot understand the point of view of these people, even if you disagree with it, you will never be successful in changing anyone’s mind on the topic. And if you cannot do that, what is the point of posting? Do you really want to pretend, all the while living in an echo chamber?

  43. Time to put up or shut up, I say.

    The careful reader would have seen that 5 hours and 16 minutes before you wrote your comment condemning me as an arrogant armchair quarterback, I gave an example of how I have “put up” in helping a member of my ward get straight with the law. I also indicated that I am a resident alien, which means that running for office would be the kind of violation that law and order types like yourself would frown upon. Still, there’s no statute banning charity (yet), so if you don’t mind, I’ll go ahead and keep steering people in the right direction without ruining their lives.

  44. If you cannot understand the point of view of these people, even if you disagree with it, you will never be successful in changing anyone’s mind on the topic.

    Persuasion is not the only purpose of writing, of course, and let’s not get too worked up if I didn’t succeed in this case. As an aside, it’s not clear to me that the failure to understand different points of view is a one-way street from liberal to conservative.

    Do you really want to pretend, all the while living in an echo chamber?

    I try to follow the comments on my posts like a leopard, but you have lost me. What am I pretending? As for the echo chamber bit, BCC is kind of like Mormon heaven—the default setting is acceptance and you have to work hard to disqualify yourself. Naturally there’s going to be a lot of self selection going on, but that’s not unique to us. Also, considering going back and reading the very first comment.

  45. Writing here accomplishes very little and as President Kimball taught, we must not only be good, we must be good for something.

    Ok, since you see fit to bash me with a prophet, allow me to respond with scripture:

    Doctrine and Covenants 18:15
    And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!

    Anyway, I harbor no illusions that my infrequent posts—I average about one a month—are going to change the world, so it’s a little strange that readers share my assessment but cast it as a deficiency.

  46. pulling up the ladder behind yourself, or at least stepping on the hands of the people below you, is a grand American tradition

    I suspect this is a thing across the world. The nicest lady at work is a naturalized citizen and a strong supporter of the xenophobic far right party because they are the ones who will supposedly do something about the Muslims. Of course, they also represent nationalists for whom a passport, and even birth, is an insufficient marker of belonging.

  47. In your eyes, I should not be arrested because that would be a threat to my ward and the physical integrity of my family.

    No, Henry, that’s not what I think at all. You would have committed a crime whereas someone who overstayed a visa has not (though there is a bill in the works to change that, so hooray for law and order?). Surely you agree that years of forced separation from your family is somewhat out of proportion to a civil offense?

  48. How many sock puppets are taking part in this thread?

  49. it's a series of tubes says:

    Given that I am responsible for getting the “going to hell” ball rolling on this thread, and given that so much of the commentary above seems to take a black or white position, please indulge me in some brief further shades of gray behind my comment.

    -I am a cis, white, male, registered Republican. 7th generation LDS. BYU grad, RM, temple married with a large family. Multiple professional graduate degrees.
    -I live in a border state. In terms of the people and materials that cross the border in contravention of the law, and the prominence of the issue, I live in THE border state.
    -I voted for Trump, and I’d do it again.
    -I think border security should be increased.

    Now that you’ve stereotyped me in your mind, consider the following:

    -I think our immigration system is in need of serious reform; it’s too easy to come here in contravention of the law, and more difficult to do legally than it should be.
    -I support the dreamers, and believe they should be given legal status.
    -The most recent naturalization ceremony I attended, for a good friend, was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life. Better than 99% of testimony meetings.
    -The undocumented people I know, and I know several dozen personally and am acquainted with several dozen more, are among the most hardworking, humble, and loving people I have ever met.

    I believe that, if you report a member of your ward to ICE, YOU ARE GOING TO HELL.

  50. MK, why don’t you refuse immoral orders? I am not saying all ICE actions or orders are immoral — far from it. But, seriously, ripping toddlers from their parents’ arms? Targeting the law abiding immigrants here without proper documentation when Trump claimed he was only going to target those who were dangerous? We’ve seen story after story of ICE detaining people who are major, long-term contributors to their local communities in schools, courthouses, hospitals — places of extreme vulnerability. Meanwhile, Trump and Sessions still absurdly claim they are only focusing on those undocumented immigrants who are dangerous, who have felony convictions, etc.

    Your conscience seriously never tells you “enough is enough, I’m not going to take this three year old away from her mother today”? Or, “I know this local business owner who’s paid taxes for 30 years and never taken any public assistance is a pillar of his local community and his five U.S. citizen children and ailing U.S. citizen mother-in-law, whom he and his wife take care of in their home, will be devastated, the family absolutely destroyed, and 20 local jobs destroyed too as his business is closed, so I’m not going to participate in this immoral act”?

  51. “Still, there’s no statute banning charity (yet), so if you don’t mind, I’ll go ahead and keep steering people in the right direction without ruining their lives.” Peter, it’s still very early days in the Trump Administration. With this GOP Congress and encouragement from Trump — the most corrupt, deranged, immoral, and dishonest person ever to occupy the Oval Office — I have little doubt such a statute is coming very soon. They’ve already discouraged charity by eliminating the charitable deduction for many people through the new standard deduction.

  52. wreddyornot says:

    Thanks so much for this post and for all of the comments. If we read and consider all the issues carefully from all perspectives and then introspect, we can learn and improve. About a decade ago, I was considering carefully all of these issues, and I ended up writing a whole novel as I thought about and researched them. What I discovered is that some laws, if enforced, don’t permit one to love their neighbors as they do themselves. I know to whom I try to give my allegiance to when it comes to defining and obeying the law. At the same time, I recognized a profound responsibility to use my power and influence, whether puny or great, to reconcile when the national and local laws where I live pervert my allegiance to God and his laws.

  53. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    jaxjensen takes the truth to be hard. It’s amazing how some people interpret calls to repentance as “calling names,” isn’t it? I’m sure not everybody who works for ICE is themselves racist or bigoted, but they clearly don’t mind being around racist and bigoted people.

    MK easily could work for any other federal law enforcement agency; transferring between agencies is unbelievably common for federal LEOs, and may well even be encouraged. (I’ve known a fair number, have relatives who spent years in federal employment, and spent a few years living in Northern Virginia, so I’m well familiar with how the processes work.) If you work for ICE, it’s because you want to, and because you approve of what does.

    series of tubes: did you vote for Trump in the primaries? Just curious. I get the sense that there are an awful lot of Republican voters who simply cannot imagine the thought of voting for a Democrat in any circumstance, mostly for reasons that have to do with abortion. (NB that Trump is on record mocking Mike Pence to his face for his abortion obsession.) However, the nomination of Trump was not something about which these folks were super enthusiastic, through some combination of his obvious character defects and his willingness to engage in blatant bigotry (which has proven to be a feature rather than a bug for many of his most ardent supporters).

  54. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    What I discovered is that some laws, if enforced, don’t permit one to love their neighbors as they do themselves. I know to whom I try to give my allegiance to when it comes to defining and obeying the law. At the same time, I recognized a profound responsibility to use my power and influence, whether puny or great, to reconcile when the national and local laws where I live pervert my allegiance to God and his laws.

    This is the essence of how a Christian should operate in a democracy.

  55. it's a series of tubes says:

    series of tubes: did you vote for Trump in the primaries? Just curious.

    Hepta – great question. I did not. But I did, enthusiastically, in the general. As to the primary vs. general issue, I remember visiting the IStandWith website when the field was crowded with primary candidates for both parties. As I recall, the candidate whose policy proposals I was most closely aligned with was Marco Rubio, and the two candidates who were the farthest from my positions: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Ain’t that a kick.

  56. Tubes, I have a hard time relating to the decision to vote for Trump (though I definitely understand the decision not to vote for Hillary). I appreciate your nuanced discussion of your positions. It is far to easy to paint people with different opinions with one big brush and I am fighting my natural inclination to do so. Most of my extended family voted for Trump and I struggle with anger against them when I see his positions, rhetoric, and policies hurting vulnerable people (for example – separating children from their parents at the border, restricting refugees from Syria, ending protection for Dreamers, advocating for reducing SNAP).

    I don’t know that I have a question for you, just a desire to understand better. For instance, today Trump called undocumented immigrants “animals.” Does that make any difference in your support? Is there anything that would? Or am I missing something? Can you help me understand?

  57. Marian, I did not vote for either of them. I was actually in the middle of a move and did not feel right voting in the state where I was registered since I had just left it. But truthfully, while I hate much of Trump’s rhetoric, I have to remind myself I equally hated Hillary’s contempt for cookie baking mothers, coal miners (and those not educated enough to recognize her superiority to all the other candidates as she has explained repeatedly to the world since her defeat) and people who did not want opposite sex people in their teenager’s public bathrooms. (And yes, that had actually become a problem where I lived. There were cross-dressing men trying on clothes in the women’s changing rooms at Macy’s in San Francisco when I was there one day and a man in the woman’s room in Barnes and Noble in Walnut Creek. Not a transgender man/woman but a regular man, sneering at me from in front of the sink, daring me to challenge his right to be there.) So I just tell myself that if it were not this crazy running the country, it would be the other crazy. Of course I believe he is ruining the country. I also believe she would have ruined it with equal hubris.

  58. Thank you for the perspective Kaaren. I suppose if Hillary had won – I voted for her – my extended family would probably be feeling similarly towards me as I am towards them right now. Though I ultimately disagree, I really do understand why some people could not bring themselves to vote for her.

  59. https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

  60. An important reminder of what is at stake, John.

  61. That’s a really, really pretty shade of blue.

  62. One thing that has yet to be addressed in these immigration threads (I have read most posts, but not all, so my apologies if it has been addressed) is the church actively seeking to thwart federal law by sneaking illegal immigrant missionaries around the country in buses etc to avoid detection.
    It’s one thing to see all of the mental gymnastics on here that allow most of the posters to be comfortable with not reporting someone who is breaking the law… but can you take it up to another level of contortion and justify the church actively subverting the law?

  63. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    Given that the Church subverted the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act for nearly a decade by shuttling Apostles and the First Presidency around in stagecoaches from rural valley to rural valley, I think you should know the answer to that.

  64. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    Kaaren, having lived in the inland East Bay, I’m willing to bet that the “regular man” you saw at the B&N in Walnut Creek was either an extremely butch lesbian or an F2M transsexual who’d been on hormones for a while but was still pre-op, and therefore preferred to micturate sitting down in a stall. (FWIW I’ve gone into single-occupancy restrooms marked LADIES, because sometimes when there’s a dude who’s taken up residency in the men’s room for ten minutes, you just can’t wait any longer. I’d be willing to bet that more than a few other men here have done this.)

    As for the Macy’s fitting rooms in SF, if this was at Westfield San Francisco you should be grateful you didn’t accidentally sit down on a crack pipe or a used syringe when you went into your booth. (Not quite as much of an issue at Stonestown.)

  65. Hep, It was wrong then and it is wrong now. Our church has a history of playing fast and loose with the law. Not good.

  66. Hep, Despite our disagreements the last couple of day’s, I must say kudo’s for using the word “micturate.” That was truly awesome and made me smile.

  67. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    It’s a perfectly cromulent word!

  68. Sorry Hep. It was a man in a sleeveless t-shirt, not a lesbian. And it was the downtown Macy’s across from Union Square. You are wrong again. But hey, let’s not actually address the concerns of women, let’s just try to deny the realities they face.

  69. Oh, and it was not the single stall type of restroom at Barnes and Noble but the multi-stall restroom. He could have gone into the men’s room, but he chose not to. And he was definitely smirking at me like he was daring me to complain.

  70. Kaaren – he could also have been a transgender man told to “use the bathroom of his/her birth gender”. That’s the trouble with policing gender in bathrooms; you don’t actually know, even if you do catch a glimpse of the equipment.

    /absurd tangent

  71. Frank, he was not transgender. I worked in San Francisco for decades with many, many LGBTQ people. He was a man with the larger hands and larger Adam’s apple of a man. And he was definitely smirking at me, daring me to challenge his right to be there.
    And the man at Macy’s women’s dressing room dressed in high heels and skirts and trying on women’s clothing was also a man.
    I am sorry, but I do not want men in women’s dressing rooms or restrooms. I don’t.
    There is a reason why the office buildings in the big cities began locking the women’s rooms and providing the women with keys. They did not do that with the men’s rooms in general. This happened decades ago all across the United States in the big cities. Men had begun hiding in those restrooms in the late afternoon and attacking the women who came in those rest rooms who were working late. I actually worked in a firm in San Francisco that had one of our employees who was working late tied up and robbed.
    Now, I feel that when the person coming into the restroom behind me when I open the door, who lacks a key, probably because he does not work in the building, is a man, that I cannot challenge his right to be there. To challenge him is to open myself to a lawsuit or to losing my job because someone accuses me of discrimination. It is not because I do not like LGBTQ people; it is because other men are more than happy to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the change.
    And as for the women’s changing rooms, some of them are open and women are changing in a large room in their underwear in front of perfect strangers. The same with gyms. I do not want the creepy men to feel they can choose to come there and women to feel they do not have the right to say “No, you cannot!”
    So hey, I will not be voting for people whose ideology gets in the way of their common sense.

  72. Frank, I do not think this tangent of LGBTQ restroom rules, and it is a tangent from the original post, is absurd. It gets to the heart of the polarization of politics in America. Years ago, people near me were literally stunned when George Bush (the younger) beat John Kerry. Flabbergasted. To say liberals felt the same about the election of Donald Trump is also true. That makes it fair to say this is not a new issue having to do with Trump.
    At the time of the Bush victory, pollsters interviewed those leaving the polls were told repeatedly that people were voting the way they did because of their values. I remember an interview at the time with a prominent liberal Democrat who, with confusion in her face, said, “Democrats have values. Why are they implying we do not have values?”
    The point she was missing is that her values were not my most important values. Values which I might rank as critical to the security of me or my family and as threatened by changes in the law or changing norms. If you are unwilling to place yourself in the shoes of another, to see that they see their actual physical safety in restrooms, their ability to support their family as a blue collar worker whose job has gone to China or a white collar worker whose job has gone to India, and to teach their children their religious beliefs, are threatened by changes espoused by by Hillary Clinton and President Obama, you have truly missed why Donald Trump was elected. And why people are willing to do what they think is correct in enforcing the immigration laws. And why in a number of other value driven decisions, people disagree with your choices. And are insisting on making their own choices, which right or wrong, they see as protecting what they value.
    The labeling as “bigot” or “racist” or whatever term is meant to silence them in their opinions is not working. It comes across as bullying.

  73. Skywarp says:

    21.1.21
    Income Taxes
    Church members are obligated by the twelfth article of faith to obey the tax laws of the nation where they reside (see also D&C 134:5). Members who disapprove of tax laws may try to have them changed by legislation or constitutional amendment. Members who have well-founded legal objections may challenge tax laws in the courts.

    Church members who refuse to file a tax return, pay required income taxes, or comply with a final judgment in a tax case are in direct conflict with the law and with the teachings of the Church. Such members may be ineligible for a temple recommend and should not be called to positions of principal responsibility in the Church. Members who are convicted of willfully violating tax laws are subject to Church discipline to the extent warranted by the circumstances.

  74. Skywarp says:

    Trump called gang members animals. Please be accurate and stop with the fake news.

  75. It’s one thing to see all of the mental gymnastics on here that allow most of the posters to be comfortable with not reporting someone who is breaking the law…

    Not reporting our neighbors for civil violations is something we all have in common. We don’t go to church to learn how to be better vigilantes. Arguing otherwise is the uphill battle here.

    If you are unwilling to place yourself in the shoes of another […] you have truly missed why Donald Trump was elected. And why people are willing to do what they think is correct in enforcing the immigration laws. […] The labeling as “bigot” or “racist” or whatever term is meant to silence them in their opinions is not working. It comes across as bullying.

    This may come as a surprise, but my shoes are not all that different from yours. I understand perfectly why people fall for demagogues—we all like to have our biases confirmed and fears allayed by facile solutions that require little of us. But that doesn’t mean it’s inappropriate to call a spade a spade. Whatever happened to the impatience for PC language that tries to obscure uncomfortable realities that conservatives have long trumpeted in the media?

    Members who are convicted of willfully violating tax laws are subject to Church discipline to the extent warranted by the circumstances.

    I assume you’re trying to point out a double standard. In response, I wonder how often you have reported your neighbors to the IRS? If so, what prompted you to take take on this role? How do you ensure consistency? Would you recommend that the church take a more systematic or at least public approach to reporting its members’ tax violations?

  76. I am sorry peterlic. I have read and read again your post and do not have the vaguest idea what you are trying to say.

  77. Peterlic, I do not think people fell for a demagogue. I think they voted against someone who showed nothing but contempt for them or their problems. Coal miners, cookie baking mothers, blue collar workers. Obviously, women who could not break away from “the ongoing pressure to vote the way that your husband, your boss, your son, whoever, believes you should” as she explained it in her speech in India. Hillary saw the voters as stupid deplorables and let them know it. People saw who she was and choose to reject it. It is unfortunate that Donald Trump was the other choice.

  78. I guess labeling someone a racist or bigot is somehow supposed to stop the debate. Issues do not matter, just labels. Peterlic, you are a Hitler. Check and checkmate.

  79. @Con Sort of like calling someone a Hitler, right?

    This logic suggests you probably don’t play chess, or, if you do, not with much depth. Let’s not ruin the name of the game here. :)

  80. I have read and read again your post and do not have the vaguest idea what you are trying to say.

    I think the title is pretty clear, even if what follows isn’t. Does that help?

    I think they voted against someone who showed nothing but contempt for them or their problems.

    I suspect that what these voters are learning is that strategic voting is a roundabout way of airing their grievances with no guarantee that they will be heard.

    I guess labeling someone a racist or bigot is somehow supposed to stop the debate. Issues do not matter, just labels. Peterlic, you are a Hitler. Check and checkmate.

    On the one hand, some readers are complaining that I’m wasting my time writing a blog post because it won’t change the world, while on the other you are comparing me to a man who changed the course of history practically single-handedly. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Anyway, you will note that I have not labelled anyone a racist or a bigot, though I do maintain that both exist.

  81. Betty, Kaaren, it’s a tangent because the post was about immigration reporting, not transgender bathroom law. It’s absurd because it’s practically a “what about Benghazi”; barely a tangent to the topic at hand.

    My first reaction to your comments is anger, but now I’m just tired and sad for you. Your arguments are the same arguments heard for the past 100 years, just for a different group. Transgender, gay, black, female, every group has had to deal with stories of people being uncomfortable, being smirked at, and wondering why they don’t just consider how others feel and take their less than human selves elsewhere. The response to your discomfort has been police arrests, assaults, and murders, but you’re still the victim here. You feel uncomfortable and women who are in no way transgender, but just don’t look female enough, are dragged away by police. You feel uncomfortable and men who have never felt an attraction to other men are dragged out back and beaten because they aren’t manly enough. You feel uncomfortable and people are taken and lynched in the public square.

    We will keep on, despite being mocked, beaten, and murdered. Some of you will change and learn you had nothing to fear from us more than from any other person you see around you, but some of you wont. Some of us will be angry.

    But mostly we’re just sad that your fear is keeping you from seeing us as God does – His children.

  82. it's a series of tubes says:

    I don’t know that I have a question for you, just a desire to understand better. For instance, today Trump called undocumented immigrants “animals.” Does that make any difference in your support? Is there anything that would? Or am I missing something? Can you help me understand?

    Marian, sure. Sorry for the delayed response as I didn’t see it. To the specific inquiry: go watch or listen to that segment of the interview, including the full text of the question that prompted the response. In context, it’s clear that he was referring to MS-13 members. For some of these gangsters, the epithet “animals” is pretty tame. Ever had to listen to someone tell you their missing uncle was found in one place, and his head somewhere else? Ever had a classmate’s father assassinated while serving in a political office in a country south of Mexico? Ever seen a pickup truck of coyotes pull alongside a van packed with undocumented people and empty multiple magazines into it in rush hour traffic right in front of you? I have, and I live in an upper middle class suburb of a major American city.

    To the broader question: just because I voted for someone doesn’t mean I agree with everything they say, or think, or do. I cast my vote based on what I believed to be the best of the options available.

  83. If the people calling ICE on their church family would just as soon report their missionary child to the authorities in the country in which he was overstaying his Visa, knowing there was a good chance he’d be thrown in jail for a year or more, then I’d buy their argument about following their conscience. And that’s not even a straight comparison, since the missionary would at least return home eventually.

  84. Frank Pellett, I said the discussion of transgender bathroom rules was a tangent, but one I thought spoke to a larger issue. That my values and my concerns were being ignored, not just with respect to border control, but in general. I believe that to be the real issue with border control simply part of it.
    I found this post somewhat disturbing from the beginning, ie “ratting out” our neighbors. Such inflammatory language. Already those who disagree are characterized as rats. So I am not surprised that it has deteriorated to charges of racism and bigotry. I am sorry people have become so hardened in their opinions they are no longer willing to even consider that someone can disagree with them and still be a good person.

  85. Brian and Peterlic, I should have explained myself better. On Reddit, when the debate becomes inflammatory and deteriorates to calling people names like bigot or racist or sexist or whatever, eventually someone stops the debate by calling them Hitler. Because how can you top that? It is seen as a way to bring the debate back to the ideas. Or to just stop the debate entirely. So I meant it as a joke to let Peterlic know I thought his use of the labels racist and bigot were out of line and not contributing to the exchange of ideas. I assumed you were familiar with the verbal meaning of my use of Hitler’s name; I was obviously incorrect.

  86. @Con, except that Peterllc never wrote those labels. Control + F to search the post and comments if you’d like.

  87. Loursat says:

    Betty, ultimately what matters is not being a good person. We’re all sinners, and none of us is good. Yet we love each other in spite of our sins. What we can control is choosing to do good things as often as possible and refusing to do bad things. Reporting a fellow ward member to ICE is a very, very bad thing. It’s an act of disloyalty to one’s fellow saints. It undermines the integrity of the church as a sisterhood and brotherhood of believers.

    So, Betty, I don’t think the post is a judgment about your personal goodness. It’s a plea for all of us to recognize an evil that lurks among us in the church. It uses strong language to condemn a great evil.

  88. “my values and my concerns were being ignored” – how are your values and concerns being ignored when you’re in the majority — a majority that oppresses many various minorities and doesn’t allow them the same rights you jealously hoard for yourself?

  89. Con, PeterLLC never called anyone a racist or bigot.

  90. Thanks for the reply Tubes. I appreciate the context.

  91. > To the specific inquiry: go watch or listen to that segment of the interview, including the full text of the question that prompted the response. In context, it’s clear that he was referring to MS-13 members.

    At this risk of contributing to this threadjack: please don’t take this at face value. It is absolutely not clear that Trump is only referring to gang members as animals, or even that this is a distinction that particularly troubles him. (He never mentions MS-13 at all, though he is expanding on an earlier comment that does.) As he has made clear many times, the default immigrant is, to him, a violent criminal. In fact, there is no clear connection between foreign-born populations and higher violent crime rates.

  92. Such inflammatory language. Already those who disagree are characterized as rats.

    I’m not intending to pay anyone a compliment who refers their neighbours (in the New Testament sense) to the authorities for civil immigration violations, that’s for sure, but in my view—for whatever it’s worth—you go too far in assuming that I am incapable of regarding those with whom I disagree as good people. In fact, I believe that I have been charitable in responding to the readers whose disagreement with something I may have written here leads them to conclude that I am arrogant, ineffective, obtuse, Hitler, etc. I don’t find these assessments persuasive for what I imagine are obvious reasons, but I invite you to go back and review the first and third comments in this thread for my response to one reader with whom I have historically disagreed.

    So I meant it as a joke to let Peterlic know I thought his use of the labels racist and bigot were out of line and not contributing to the exchange of ideas.

    I wasn’t bent out of shape—I recognise hyperbole and Godwin’s Law when I see it. The only quibble I have is that, as others and I have pointed out, I haven’t labelled anyone a racist or bigot.

  93. What ?

  94. jaxjensen says:

    PeterLLC, while ‘charitable’ might be a stretch , you have communicated with decency on the topic. Terms like ‘racist’ and ‘bigot’ have been ascribed to you simply because others who share your opinion have used the terms. I think you’ve been fine; others have not.

    I do think it ironic that you and others are castigating those would turn in their ward members for a minor infraction, when turning in your ward member is a minor infraction as well (IMO). This argument really boils down to your side seeing the “ratting” out of ward members as something major, and not minor (the point of the OP); while those who do the “ratting” see illegal immigration as a major problem and not minor. We seem to all just disagree on the severity of infractions (some legal, some spiritiual). Some think neither are big infractions, others think they both are, and others think one is and the other isn’t.

    I don’t think a definitive answer on who is “right” exists. And if it goes on long enough we’ll all simply continue to disparage and insult each other with phrases like, “going to hell”, “bigot”, “Hitler”, etc. Perhaps our style of communication in these discussions is the biggest infraction?

  95. it's a series of tubes says:

    when turning in your ward member is a minor infraction as well (IMO).

    jax, can it truly be a “minor infraction’, given the consequences such an action is likely to cause?

  96. jaxjensen says:

    IASOT, any people see the effects of illegal immigration and think that those consequences are serious too, and think “ratting” on a neighbor is worthwhile. That’s why this is a disagreement of a subjectively sliding scale. You think one is a big deal, while the other is minor. Some see it just opposite as you, with illegal immigration being a big deal but reporting it as a minor thing. I view them both as minor. Others view them as both major.

    The “minor”-ness of immigrating illegally has been compared to speeding (“would you turn in your neighbor for speeding?”). But speeding costs peoples there lives and can be dangerous. Nobody would turn in a neighbor for a minor thing like driving too fast, but it can have terrible consequences too. The potential consequences don’t define the seriousness of the “infraction”… unless you suggest we should ALL turn in our lead-footed friends?

    I won’t pretend to give you a good answer on the conundrum. I said I don’t think there is a “right” one that exists without using personal subjectivity. What each of us would actually do when dealing with real people/situations would depend on far too many variables to accurately describe. Do I condemn the person who did it? No. Would I have done it, probably not.

  97. kinda not anonymous says:

    Numerous households in my neighborhood have called the police about a person in my neighborhood who speeds while driving in the neighborhood. To the point that it has been discussed ad nauseum on neighborhood social media. To many, he is considered a dangerous menace. So yes, neighbors will reports neighbors for speeding. I understand that the police have been out to visit with him many times as a result.

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