The snark is gone, for now. Kudos to Newsweek for its thoughtful new weekly feature, Beliefwatch, written by Beliefnet editor in chief Steven Waldman. This week's column, on the topic of immigration and what the Bible teaches about it, is particularly noteworthy.
With all the posturing recently from politicians attempting to get God on their side in the immigration debate, it's refreshing to see a magazine take an honest and straightforward look at what the Bible actually teaches:
Opposition to the Iraq war energized the "religious left." Now immigration is extending the life of the coalition. The most vocal have been Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, Rabbis David Saperstein and Arthur Waskow, Christian ministers Bob Edgar and Jim Wallis and -- to stretch the definition a bit -- Methodist lay leader Hillary Clinton, who said that some anti-immigrant measures would "criminalize the good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself." There are divides, of course: almost half of Roman Catholics say "immigrants are a burden because they take jobs, housing and health care," according to a Pew Religion Forum survey last month. But the study also showed that those who attend church more often are warmer to immigrants. As with any issue, dueling Bible verses are never far behind.
The column links to a Beliefnet piece that lays out the various passages in the Old Testament, New Testament, Qur'an and Hadith that deal with immigration.
I might have missed previous Beliefwatch articles, but as far as I can tell, last week's was the first. The topic was not as straightforward -- books on Jesus that tell a story other than what is traditionally taught -- but adequately handled. I'll be keeping an eye out for this feature, because it will be interesting to see what type of material Waldman finds.