"Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger -- we were strangers once, too," the president said Thursday night. "My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too."
Steve Doocy of Fox & Friends felt it was simply a matter of misunderstanding the text in question: "So there, the president of the United States last night in the Cross Hall at the White House invoking scriptures which I believe had to do with feeding the poor and the hungry and nothing to do with visas."
Tucker Carlson accused the president of using the Biblical quotations to prove that "God is on [his] side." "It's repugnant," Carlson said, "for this guy specifically, the president who spent his career defending late-term abortion, among other things, lecturing us on Christian faith? That's too much. That is too much. This is the Christian left at work, and it's repugnant."
"To quote scripture?" he added, "that is totally out of bounds."
This is the same network that recently featured Phil Robertson being interviewed by Sean Hannity with an open Bible quoting a bunch of texts he clearly had little understanding of. Apparently quoting Scripture is only "out of bounds" when what is quoted disagrees with your political view. Or depending on who is doing the quoting.
"To guilt someone into" supporting immigration reform, Elisabeth Hasselbeck replied. "That's not what the scholars behind the Bible would interpret as proper use."
So now Fox is citing biblical scholars. Great. Let's go there. Except Fox hosts would likely disagree with about 90 percent of current biblical scholarship. As for guilting someone into something, has Elisabeth Hasselbeck even read the Bible? It's got quite a lot of that in there, and yes, scholars -- and people on the street -- would agree: any call to justice and right living is going to leave the best of us feeling slightly (or very) guilty.
Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee kept up the ironic Fox attack against using the Bible, writing on Facebook that it "is interesting that Obama cites Scripture as the justification for him taking unilateral action on illegal immigrants."
"It's similar to the way that his Biblical beliefs led him to oppose same-sex marriage as a candidate for election. Then when he needed big campaign donations from gay liberals for his reelection, the Bible suddenly got rewritten."
"I always thought that Scripture was eternal and unchanging," he concluded, "but apparently, now that Obama is President, Scripture gets rewritten more often than Bill Cosby's Wikipedia entry."
For a clergyman, Huckabee sure fails to grasp the basic concept of interpretation, which may indeed change from time to time as new scholarship and information comes to light -- but that's another article for another day.
Charles Krauthammer questions the timing and method of Obama's approach on this issue, which is understandable. He notes, "If this issue is so important, why wait until now to do it? Why not do it earlier when you had the House and the Senate on your side?" Fair enough.
The politicizing of an issue is it's own tragedy. And yes, this action comes later than it should, and in a far from perfect form. I'm not sure anyone would argue otherwise. Yet this action also creates relief for many who are on the margins of our society, people Jesus refers to as "the least of these."
The politicizing of this should not, however, detract us from the clear call of the Scriptures which were written to a people who were born out of the turmoil of the journey from oppression to a land not their own. The Bible was and is a book written to, about, and for immigrants. All who use it as a guide to spiritual life and well-being do it a radical disservice by ignoring that the plight of the stranger is indeed the plight of us all.
Is quoting Scripture really "out of bounds"? I suppose only if we prefer to keep the status quo.