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At Last Book That Asks: What Would Jesus Do About "Illegal" Immigrants?

08/16/2010 06:30 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I remember the old days -- now more than forty years ago -- when I did a lot of hitchhiking all over the world. Sometimes after a very long wait I was almost annoyed with the kind person who finally stopped to pick me up. "Where the hell have you been?" I illogically was about to ask when I clambered into the "Good Samaritan" of the moment's car.

I feel the same way about Neighbor: Christian Encounters With 'Illegal' Immigration by Ben Daniels. It's about time!

Daniels strikes a blow to reclaim the actual Christian witness on the subject of welcoming the proverbial stranger into our midst. This witness has of late been buried under an avalanche of hatred projected at "the other" by too many people -- usually white "conservative" Americans claiming that they are also Christians.

For the last two years Daniels spent time thinking about immigration. He's traveled to the border, spoken with and interviewed scores of people, including many undocumented migrants, and now he's written a book about what he learned. (The book has just been published by Westminster John Knox Press).

To the "church" following the gospel of hate -- that is rapidly replacing the gospel of Jesus in "conservative" American political circles -- Daniels' book should come as a wakeup call. Lots of conservatives say they believe in Judgment Day. If so let this book be a warning.

We have a choice: follow the compassionate moral leader all call Christ and that we Christians call the Son of God, or follow the anti-immigrant lynch mob as they try to not just slam our borders shut or even -- in some circles -- revoke the 14th Amendment so that the babies born to the "wrong" (read brown and black) sort of people can no longer become citizens.

In the case of "illegal" immigrants Daniels literally asks us: what would Jesus do? I wrote the forward to his book because I believe -- strike that I KNOW -- Daniels got the answer right.

Using a blend of travel narrative, interviews and biblical scholarship, Daniel tackles the controversial issues that surround undocumented migration in the United States by taking the reader to the spiritual, legal, and geographical front lines of the immigration debate. The political becomes personal. The result of this journey is the best book (so far) that encourages actual Christians and anyone else with a heart, to meet undocumented migrants as neighbors and as friends. (Study questions are included.)

I care about America and (as a Christian) I also care about Jesus' reputation. So I hope for all our sakes (both morally- and economically- speaking) that this book becomes a best seller.

The anti-immigrant folks aren't just wrong morally, they are wrong factually: we NEED young workers to offset our aging population. We are so very lucky so many people want to come here to better their lives! Read this book and then help save the future of this country by spreading the word!