CAC Digest #5

CAC Digest # 05 Covering August 25-26

Dear CACers:

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{1} The following is a set of resolutions just passed by the Evangelical Free
Church of America. It was written by a friend of mine – Keith Sunahara – who
is now a PhD candidate in theology and ethics at Loyola in Chicago. Thought
you might be interested. – – Tim

Date: Fri, Aug 23, 1996 9:12 EDT
From: SunaJaK
Subj: EFCA Resolutions
To: TSTseng

Hi Timothy,

Sorry it took so long to get back to you. Here’s the 3 resolutions that the
Evangelical Free Church of America approved (without footnotes):
– – – – – – –
Stranger at our Gates, A Christian Perspective on Immigration

During periods of rapid change and economic uncertainty, it is often the
vulnerable and marginalized people who are blamed for the misfortune that
everyone else experiences or expects to experience. Today a significant
amount of attention and blame for a perceived threat to the American way of
life is being directed at immigrants. As Christians we must ensure that our
response to the issue of immigration is directed by a world view that is
shaped by Biblical principles rather than secular rhetoric.

A number of themes relevant to immigration run through the Bible. The first
theme is that we ourselves, as Christians, are aliens on this earth. “…
And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.” (Hebrews
11:13, NIV) Our status as aliens and strangers forms the basis for our
attitudes and responses towards those people who live outside our society.

A second theme is that our material possessions do not really belong to us.
The promised land belonged to the Isrealites only in the sense that as host,
God allowed the Isrealites to dwell in the promised land as his guests
(Leviticus 25:23). Similarly, as aliens and strangers in the world, the
material resources of the world do not belong to us. We have what we have
because God, as host, has distributed material resources to us, his guests.
As recipients of God’s graciousness and generousity, we need to guard
against selfishness and possiveness which would cloud our attitude toward
immigrants.

A third theme is protection for the alien. As non-citizens, working in their
country of residence, aliens exist outside the social and political network
of the society they are residing in; thus they are rendered powerless.
Aliens are very vulnerable to exploitation. As Christians, we should recall
our roots as aliens and thus identify with their plight (Exodus 23:9).

A fourth theme is that for Christians, no one is ever to really be considered
an outsider. “… The alien living with you must be treated as one of your
native-born. Love him as yourself, …” (Leviticus 19:33-34, NIV) The Great
Commandment is to apply to the alien because he or she is our neighbor.

A fifth theme is that in serving the outsiders of society, we encounter
Jesus. Because Christ identify with the stranger, we are to extend the same
treatment to the alien and stranger that we would extend toward Jesus
(Matthew 25:35).

Historically, immigration policies of the United States appear to be directed
more by racism and economic self-interest than compassion. Immigration
quotas favored people groups already established in the United States
(western and northern Europeans) while limiting immigrants from Asia and
Africa . Sometimes certain people groups were allowed to emigrate only when
they were needed as menial labor for a specific task, e.g., Chinese railroad
builders. Today immigration policy favors those who bring technical
expertise or financial resources with them.

The present debate over immigration policy and immigrants is often based on
stereotypical falsehoods. Immigrants do not displace American workers. They
usually fill a shortage of skilled labor, or do the menial task that citizens
refuse to do. Immigrants’ rate of employment is higher than the general
population and they work longer hours. They receive less general assistance
than the general population. Immigrants pay more in taxes than the social
services they receive. The reason state governments are financially
burdened by immigrants is because only one third of the federal income tax
paid by immigrants is returned to the state governments who provide public
services such as education and emergency medical care.

As we engage in our society’s debate on immigration through forums such as
the voting booth, community discussion groups, political parties, and church,
in light of the preceeding discussion, we need to raise the following issues:

A. To what extend are our attitudes towards immigration shaped by racism? To
what extent do we assume that American culture is identified with northern
and western European culture; and are we attempting to protect those cultural
roots of America from corruption by “foreign” cultures? Are we afraid that
this existing cultural dominance will be overcome by the “strangeness” of
strangers? Are we denying that other cultures bring gifts that add to,
rather than detract from our society’s culture? Does our cultural identity
take precedence over our Christian identity so that we fail to recognize that
we are fellow aliens with these immigrants?

B. To what extent are our attitudes towards immigration shaped by
materialism? As aliens and strangers in this world, what is the theological
basis for acting as though America was our property and we can hence deny
access to it? Are we being overly possessive of our lifestyle or standard of
living?

C. Is the fear of running out of limited resources justifiable? How can we
say that there is not enough to go around in America? Are we more concerned
with the pursuit of affluence than meeting the basic human needs of all human
beings?

D. What are the Implications of Proposition 187 Type Legislation (as in the
state of California)? Does denying or reducing “safety net” and other public
benefits to illegal immigrants and their American born children imply that in
our society, some groups of people are a not regarded as being equally human
as others, even though they participate in the economic functioning of our
society? Are some groups of people not deemed worthy to receive the minimal
goods and services we consider essential for a very basic level of human
existence?

E. What about immigration policy? To what extent are we responsible for the
living conditions in other countries that motivate people to emigrate? Do
the policies of the U.S. government and U.S. trans-national companies
contribute to pressures on people to emmigrate to the U.S.? Does an
immigration policy that favors the immigration of highly skilled people drain
other countries of the skills necessary to improve their standard of living
and hence reduce the pressure to emigrate to America?

As evangelicals we are called by God to aid the vulnerable. Therefore, we
must see the alien and the stranger as individuals made in the image of God,
the object of Christ’s love, and as people of intrinsic worth who are in need
of our affirmation and support.
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Resolution Opposing the Presidential Veto of H.R. 1833
The Partial-birth AbortionBan Act

I. Partial Birth Abortion

“Partial-birth abortion, also known as dilation and extraction (“D and X”),
is a procedure for ending late-term pregnancies: The mother visits the
abortion facility on three successive days. On the first two days, her cervix
is mechanically dilated. On the third day, the abortionist extracts the baby,
feet first, from the womb and through the birth canal until all but the head
is exposed. Then the tips of surgical scissors are thrust into the base of
the baby’s skull, and a suction catheter is inserted through the opening and
the brain is removed, collapsing the skull and making it easier to deliver.”
(Christianity Today, 12/11/95)

II. Background

On April 10, 1996 President Bill Clinton vetoed the Partial-birth Abortion
Ban Act (H.R. 1833). This bill, approved by the Senate (54-44) and the House
of Representatives (286-129), would have banned partial-birth abortions
except for a “mother whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, illness
or injury.” In a statement released through the Office of Management and
Budget by the Clinton Administration on November 7, 1995, President Clinton
had promised to veto the bill because

“The President believes that the decision to have an abortion should be
between a woman, her conscience, her doctor, and her God. … The President
has long opposed late-term abortions except where they are necessary to
protect the life of the mother or where there is a threat to her health,
consistent with the law. … Therefore, the Administration cannot support
H.R. 1833 because it fails to provide for consideration of the need to
preserve the life and health of the mother, consistent with the U.S. Supreme
Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade.”

The supporters of H.R. 1833 sought to limit the use of partial-birth
abortions to situations in which the mother’s life was in danger. To
incorporate the health of the mother as a consideration for use of this
abortion procedure would make the ban meaningless since “health” has been
interpreted to include “all factors — physical, emotional, psychological,
familial and the woman’s age — relevant to the well-being of the patient.”
(Doe vs Bolton, U.S. Supreme Court 1973) As long as the physician and mother
agree that carrying the pregnancy to birth affects some aspect of the
mother’s “health,” then a partial-birth abortion would not be prohibited by
this ban.

III. Response

The Evangelical Free Church of America denounces President Clinton’s veto of
H.R. 1833 for the following reasons.

A. We believe that God creates a human being not by passage through a birth
canal or by a surgical procedure such as Cesarean section. Nor does God
create a human being when a fetus is capable of existing outside its mother’s
womb. Rather, we believe that God creates a human being when conception
occurs.

The abortion debate is not really about a woman’s freedom to choose (see
also “The Myth of Choice” Resolution adopted at the EFCA General Conference,
1993). What the abortion debate is really about is our society’s definition
of a human being. Those who want to frame the abortion debate as a matter of
choice, seek to move our society’s definition of a human being as far away
from conception and as close to birth as possible. We, on the other hand,
strive to push society’s definition of human being back to the point of
conception.

The partial-birth abortion assumes that an unborn baby becomes a human being
at complete birth. A fully viable, healthy, unborn baby is not a human
being, even though its legs, arms, and body are outside the mother’s body, as
long as its head is still within the mother’s body. The choice of the head
being the last body part remaining within the mother’s body is a purely
pragmatic one. The head cannot be removed until its skull is first
collapsed. According to the logic of partial-birth abortions, it’s never too
late to perform an abortion, as long as some body part, even a foot, remains
within the mother’s body. As long as some part of the baby remains inside
the mother, the baby has not yet been born; and what has not yet been born is
not a human being and can therefore be aborted.

President Clinton’s veto of H.R. 1833 clearly supports the worldview that
one’s status as a human being depends not on a creative act of God in
conception, but on a human-defined set of biological criteria (is it viable,
inside the womb, dependent on an umbilical cord?) that ignores the spiritual
nature of a human being. As supportive of such an un-Scriptural worldview,
we oppose Presidential veto of H.R. 1833.

B. We also disagree with President Clinton’s position that “the decision to
have an abortion should be between a woman, her conscience, her doctor, and
her God.” Why is it that the decision to steal a car, rob a bank, murder
someone, cheat on taxes, etc., is not a decision between the perpetrator, his
or her conscience, and his or her God? The reason why is that laws against
theft, murder, cheating on taxes, etc., are based on fundamental moral truths
that apply to everyone in society. No individual has the authority to choose
which of these fundamental moral truths do or do not appy to himself or
herself.

The morality of abortion depends on the fundamental moral truth of whether
or not an unborn baby is a human being. Claiming that the decision to have
an abortion belongs to individual women, implies that individual women can
choose for themselves, whether or not the fundamental moral truth of who
counts as a human being, does or does not apply to their babies.

We believe in the existence of fundamental moral truths, absolute and
universal. The understanding of when a human being comes into existence is
one such fundamental moral truth. As a repudiation of the universal nature
of this truth, we oppose the Presidential veto of H.R. 1833.

IV. Conclusion

In a consumer oriented and materialistic society such as ours today, the
world tends to define one’s humanity according to his or her usefulness to
society. Only those who contribute are seen as having a right to share in
the consumption of resources necessary to support our lifestyle. Those
lacking “normal” cognitive skills, people with other serious disabilities,
the unborn, the elderly, and those with limited socio-economic opportunities,
are seen as a waste of resources, a negative return on investment. Those who
argue for the freedom to choose promote a dark vision of a society that culls
the less than useful from its ranks by denying them status as human beings
and thus making them disposable.

Freedom to choose is freedom for some to decide who doesn’t count as a human
being and thus who is disposable. Whether in the beginning stages of life
through abortion, or in the latter stages of life through suicide and
euthanasia, no one has the authority to disenfranchise someone (even
themselves) of his or her humanity. Such authority belongs only to God, the
one who brings human beings into existence by his creative power.

As the people of God, our calling is to defend the humanity of all people,
especially the most vulnerable (unborn, elderly, disabled, and powerless)
from others who would seek to declare them less than human. We oppose all
efforts that seek to make the disenfranchising of human beings an accepted
norm or practice in our society. As we value the life and humanity of all
people, we stand in stand in stark contrast to those who would deny even
these basic essentials to the “least of these.”
===================

A Resolution Condemning the Burnings of African American Churches

Since 1995 a significant number of African American churches, located
primarily in the Southern United States, have been presumably burned by
arsonists. As national media coverage of this movement of hate has grown, so
too has the number and frequency of church burnings. During the Civil Rights
struggles of the 1960s, many of us opposed our African American brothers and
sisters in Christ through our criticism of their actions, our unfriendly
indifference towards their condition, and our willful “looking the other way”
when they called for help. Not this time.

African American Christians and members of the Evangelical Free Church of
America (EFCA) are members of the same universal church. We are all equally
sons and daughters of God, and equally brothers and sisters in Christ. We
are all “fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.”
(Ephesians 2:19b, NIV) Hebrews 13:1-3 states:

Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers,
for by doing so some people have entertained angels without knowing it.
Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those
who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (NIV)

Our response to the suffering and loss of our African American brothers and
sisters in Christ should be no different than if it were our churches being
burned.

As the EFCA we condemn the burnings of African American churches and the
racist hate that motivates those burnings. We call on all EFCA churches to
humbly offer assistance, in a manner appropriate to each circumstance, to our
African American brothers and sisters who are being affected by this wave of
burnings.

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{2} From Fenggang Yang

Subj: Re: CAC Digest # 4
Date: Sun, Aug 25, 1996 7:17* EDT
From: 54YANG@CUA.EDU
To: TSTseng@aol.com

Hello, Tim,

This summer, especially August, is a hectic time for me. I have read most of
the CAC messages, but not yet had the time to really follow up. Some short
and quick comments.

1. very glad to see the vitalization of the CAC list. We need it. Thanks to
Tim for his good work.

2. a listserv list is preferred. However, I agree with Tim that we should
not restrict ourselves to ABC ministries only. Overall, there are not too
many Chinese churches and Chinese Christians. We need some broader scope.

3. yes, we need to know each other better. I enjoyed reading others’
self-introduction. Here is mine:

Fenggang Yang, ph.d candidate in sociology at the Catholic University of
America, Washington, DC. I am finishing my dissertation entitled “Religious
Conversion and Identity Construction: A Study of a Chinese Christian Church
in the U.S.” I’ve done some other related papers. Beginning 1/1/97 I am
going to be a postdoc at University of Houston, continue to study “new
immigrant religions.” I came to the U.S. from PRC in 1989 and was baptized
in 1992 in a nondenominational Chinese church. We have a wonderful
evangelist fellowship for mainland Chinese. All right, enough for now.

Fenggang Yang

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