No conflict between Christians and law

Readers' letters
by: Christopher Onstott, Carlos Hernandez (left) and Jack Louman sing in the front row of  City Bible Church in Tigard during a Sunday service, which is translated into Spanish.

It's not without irony that Pastor Wheeler (of First Baptist Church of Portland) points out people's tendencies to 'pick and chose' scriptural references, and then does exactly the same thing himself (What would Jesus do about immigrants?, Aug. 12).

Indeed, why would a Baptist minister cite the Torah and ignore the more appropriate references in the New Testament, unless it was contradictory to his narrative?

When asked if civil disobedience was the appropriate response to the oppressive Roman taxes, Jesus responded simply: 'Render onto Caesar that which is Caesar's.'

He understood that the cost of religious freedom was civil adherence to the law, that the world has a place for both divine and civil law, and that the latter should be observed except when it conflicts with the former.

Civil law is clear on immigration, and there is no conflict. The Christian's role in preserving this nation's rule of law is identical to that of any other American's.

Similarly, Mr. Ludwick (of Oregonians for Immigration Reform)'s specious dismissal of anti-illegal immigration sentiment as 'xenophobic' misses the point: It's specifically about illegal immigration.

We are a nation of laws, not a nation of men. This hasn't changed since George Washington first pointed this out more than two centuries ago. There is nothing xenophobic about not wanting to diminish the place that the rule of law has in defining our national character.

To Pastor Trolose (of City Bible Church)'s point, border control isn't an issue for Canada, because the only country Canada shares a border with respects their sovereignty, unlike America's southern neighbor. Any comparison between the U.S. and Canada's respective situations is orthogonal.

Philip A. Prindeville

Northwest Portland

Cut off services for immigrants

Fine, let (illegal immigrants) stay, but do not ever allow them to vote or allow them to use our social services (i.e.: food stamps, WIC, Oregon Health Plan, day care subsidies). Require them to pay taxes, report their incomes and take responsibility for their own lives.

No more 'anchor babies,' and if they break the laws they should be punished as everyone else is punished - the same exact way.

They must apply for citizenship and learn to speak English, no more 'special Spanish' classes in our schools to accommodate these children.

Nikki Johnson

Oregon City

Obey the law, or face justice

Jesus expects everyone to obey the law or face justice, no matter who you are or think you are (What would Jesus do about immigrants?, Aug. 12).

We need to dump politicians who are not willing to uphold our laws in the name of social justice and get back to equal justice for all. Legal immigrants are welcome and plenty of them are allowed into our county to satisfy our employment needs. Illegal immigrants need to face the consequences of their illegal behavior.

We need to vigorously enforce all of our laws. It's the right thing to do, and we should never be asked to feel bad about doing so, period.

Joe Kelly


Church officials are irresponsible

It doesn't matter what Jesus would do about immigrants - the immigration situation during his lifetime was totally different from that existing today in the United States (What would Jesus do about immigrants?, Aug. 12).

What church officials are saying is, 'Let anyone and everyone who wants to, enter the U.S. bring their extended families and settle down here.' This is extremely irresponsible of the church officials, and they should be ashamed of themselves.

If the churches accept that limits to immigration should exist, they should explain what they consider acceptable levels. It appears the idea of any limits has never entered their heads.

They have no concern about what open borders will do to the citizens of a country. It renders their citizenship worthless and brings their lives down to the level of the poorest in the world.

The U.S. is already overcrowded and beyond sustainable environmental limits. Wages have already been depressed and whole sectors of employment - agriculture, construction, hotels and restaurants - use many illegal immigrants instead of citizens, while unemployment is around 10 percent nationally.

Church officials are ignorant of economics and business realities. They should stick to ministering to people's souls, teaching Christian ethics and stay out of political or governmental issues they do not understand. Their proselytizing for open borders is foolish and harmful.

Elizabeth Van Staaveren


No free ride for immigrants

All of the supporters of legal and illegal immigration please listen: Loan me your credit card so I can run up free charges and I won't have to pay for any of it … (What would Jesus do about immigrants?, Aug. 12).

Christ wants us to make our own way in this world and be kind to others. So loan me your credit card out of kindness, won't you, because you ask of me to subsidize the illegal behavior and activity of immigration.

Greg Schifsky

Southwest Portland

Who is at fault for gangs?

Activists and church leaders want action (Breaking the gang chain, Aug. 5). What action do they want? The gang members are their children. What sort of a family unit wrings its hands in anguish as their teenager turns into a gun-toting murderer at 16? Where is the fault here - with the police for not doing what (these) families should have been doing for years? Can someone please explain this to me?

I guess not. Where is Jo Ann Bowman when these children are growing up in obviously dysfunctional families? Where is the Albina Ministerial Alliance? Where is Jesse Jackson? Where is Ron Herndon?

No doubt someone will dismiss me as a racist, which, I assure you, I am not. The richness of diversity makes us all better people, but really - where is the fault? Where is the responsibility?

Doug Stanley

Northwest Portland

Housing project too expensive

This project is costing $376,000 per unit (Who's more vulnerable? Index guides housing plan, Aug. 12)?

The city could accomplish all of its stated goals for a much cheaper price - even the most ambitious condo building during the housing boom cost far less than this.

The city should have put the construction in private hands. It could have built twice the number of units for that price.

I admire the goals of the project, but some fiscal responsibility is in order.

Garner Moody

Southwest Portland

Don't let Old Town become a ghetto

Having been born and raised in New York with its vast high-rise ghetto areas, I've always taken great pride in Portland's lack of poverty-stricken ghettos of high-rises. There are poor areas here - any sizable city will have them - but it is the lack of concentrated, intractably impoverished neighborhoods that I think has contributed greatly to Portland's well-being.

This move, I fear, might be a step in the wrong direction (Who's more vulnerable? Index guides housing plan, Aug. 12). A concentration of services for vulnerable populations might make sense economically, but we also don't want to consign Old Town to a permanent population of people living on the fringes.

There are a lot of surface-level parking lots in Old Town, and I'm disappointed to see that they aren't being converted to better use. The Yellow and Green MAX lines further increase the visibility of this area and the viability of businesses there. It would be sad to counterbalance those efforts by concentrating the homeless here. As the spokesperson for the New York-based organization said, 'We always blend, so it doesn't have an institutional feel.'

By demolishing businesses (such as music venue Satyricon) that draw a varied clientele, and by further concentrating the poor and vulnerable in one area, Portland is ensuring that there will be reduced opportunities for the presently homeless to 'blend' into society.

If the vulnerable population were more dispersed through the city, they might have better chances of picking up jobs at nearby businesses, which could lead them toward a more socially integrated, normal life. But concentrating them in high-density housing will ensure that they will have constant difficulties in moving away from their present lifestyles.

Michael Caputo

Southwest Portland