Embracing the Stranger: Hispanics, American Christianity, and Immigration

By Morales-Gudmundsson, Lourdes E. | Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, Summer 2008 | Go to article overview

Embracing the Stranger: Hispanics, American Christianity, and Immigration


Morales-Gudmundsson, Lourdes E., Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table


Introduction

In 2000 a book entitled The Gift of the Stranger: Faith, Hospitality, and Foreign Language Learning was widely read by Christian instructors of foreign languages. The authors argued that the work of a foreign language instructor in a Christian setting has to necessarily go beyond the conjugation of verbs and an occasional festive nod to such visible cultural phenomena, in my case as a Spanish professor, as Mexican sarapes or Spanish paella.

The authors Smith and Carvill remind their Christian readers that there is a biblical mandate throughout the Christian Bible to show kindness to the alien and stranger and that, by incorporating this biblical mandate in our teaching, we deepen students' experience of the language they are learning by using it as an open window into the daily experiences of the speakers of that language, whether they reside in their native land or in the United States. The incorporation of hospitality into the foreign language and culture curriculum can serve as an antidote to long-standing American fears surrounding the alien, particularly the one living in one's own neighborhood. In this sense, hospitality to the stranger, as Smith and Carvill put it, is "an overarching metaphor and spiritual virtue in foreign language education." (82)

One could go a step further to say that this overarching metaphor extends to the American Christian church and its members as they participate in the current debate surrounding these most recent immigrants from over the U.S.-Mexico border.1 That there are Christians who heartily agree as well as disagree with showing kindness and generosity to the alien, will be seen as we look at the attitudes of American Christians toward the Latino immigrant.

In the United States where I was born and raised by Christian Latino immigrant parents, Christians are living the challenge of dealing with the alien, particularly the immigrant alien from just across the U.S.-Mexico border. Torn between concepts of national identity, national security, and isolationism, fueled by fear inspired by historic nativism and the more recent threat of terrorism, American Christians have become divided among those who would associate true patriotism with resistance and even hostility toward this alien and those Christians who belong to a longer tradition of providing "sanctuary" for these newcomers to the U.S. Armed with the justification of "illegality" provided by American immigration laws that no longer serve the interests either of Mexico or the U.S., certain Christians, whether clergy or laity, have made these "illegal aliens" the target of the most vitriolic and contrived accusations of labor market subterfuge, undermining of American culture, and criminality, leaving other Christians either uncertain or silent in their response to such rhetoric and yet others, determined to uphold the American Christian church's historic role as protector and provider for newly-arrived immigrants.

For Morris Dees, founder/director of the Southern Poverty Law Center (hereafter SPLC), a human rights watchdog organization, the current acrimonious tone of the debate surrounding Latino immigration is nothing less than a test of the American spirit. He states that the Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that hate crimes against Latinos have risen by 35% and Center investigators have confirmed that 888 hate groups are now active in America, almost a 59% rise in their numbers since the year 2000. (2) In Attorney Dees words, "This unprecedented growth is the result of an escalating anti-immigrant fervor that is contaminating our nation's very soul." (2008, 3) He continues: "While people of good will can have different opinions about our nation's immigration policy, hatred, racism, and violence should have no place in the debate." (Ibid.)

This paper attempts to address the following questions: What are the moral implications of the current immigration debate for American Christian churches, organizations, and individuals? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Embracing the Stranger: Hispanics, American Christianity, and Immigration
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.