Book Review of 'Breach of Faith -- American Churches and the Immigration Crisis' by James C. Russe

By Richard Faussette
Volume 15, Number 3 (Spring 2005)
Issue theme: "Facing our geo-destiny: honoring the work of geologist Walter Youngquist"

Breach of Faith American Churches and the Immigration Crisis

by James C. Russell, Ph.D.

Raleigh, NC Representative Government Press

144 pages, $12.00

I was only paying half attention to the homily, but I snapped to attention when I heard the pastor say, "so called illegal aliens" from the pulpit. I had never heard a priest openly legitimize illegal immigration. Ironic, this pastor's parish was entirely segregated. The "Anglos" had their Masses and the "Spanish" had theirs. Rarely did the communities mingle and when they did, the "Spanish" were aggressive and insular, but the priests wouldn't acknowledge it. The "Anglos" had been disenfranchised. Everyone knew it. No one openly discussed it. The "Spanish" were immigrating in large numbers and the authoritarian priesthood viewed them as the future of the Church in America.

There aren't enough priests to go around anymore. I visited a seminary and found few novitiates and no "Anglo" novitiates at all, only immigrants. The priests were struggling to maintain their numbers and had resorted to importing prospects. They were expecting waves of immigration to rebuild their dwindling vocations and congregations, and were unperturbed by any thought of the unforeseen or even disastrous consequences that might befall the innocent indigenous as a result of their priestly efforts to legitimize "so called illegal aliens."

In Breach of Faith: American Churches and the Immigration Crisis Professor James C. Russell tells us "the churches, of practically all faiths and denominations have been among the foremost promoters of open borders, continually pressing for the liberalization of immigration laws.(p.1)" He begins with the consistently ignored human dimension of the issue by telling the tale of the vicious rape and murder of a nun in Klamath Oregon by an illegal and criminal alien who had been apprehended and deported over our permeable borders many times remarking that the "Churches and religious organizations often seem oblivious to the deleterious consequences of their charitable impulses. True charity cannot be imposed by government mandate nor consciously endanger other members of society, nor contribute to the dissolution of social order.(p.6)"

"Sister Helen Chaska, 53, who was less than five feet tall and weighed under a hundred pounds, died from strangulation; her rosary beads were embedded in her neck.(p.3)"

Sister Chaska was a sacred human being our shared responsibility or she was collateral damage in the necessary wake of globalization, the greater good. One of those positions is a religious one. The other is socioeconomic. Sister Chaska's brutal murder leads Russell to pose the question

"Are the so called culture wars of today really a proxy for a deeper war between sentimentalist notions of religiocultural universalism and its socioeconomic derivative, globalization, and a sociobiological realism that seeks to preserve ethnocultural diversity in accordance with the primordial laws of God and nature?(p.9)"

He recalls Samuel Huntington's prediction in Clash of Civilizations: "Religion, ethnicity and culture will continue to be major sources of conflict in the world,(p.7)" but religion, ethnicity and culture are also major sources of group cohesion, identification and defense. So, why do we abandon our conservative religion, drop our borders and in a very short period of time fill our country with an unassimilable mosaic of potentially hostile cohesive communities who do not know the rules of our culture, have any regard for our religion or any sympathy for us as an indigenous people? In the face of large scale legal and illegal immigration, Russell warns, "The contemporary Western fetish for deconstructing its religious and cultural heritage becomes a tragic flaw.(p.7)" A great European American Christian family is under siege and we have disarmed ourselves. The assault is happening before our very eyes and our own churchmen invite the invaders, the "so called illegal aliens."

I met James C. Russell at an annual meeting of the Human Behavior and Evolution society. He is as comfortable with religion as he is with the behavioral sciences. From an evolutionary perspective, religious behaviors developed because they enhanced the survival prospects of individuals and groups. Russell sees the paradox Self-destructive religious behavior is an anomaly that demands explanation.

He reminds us Christianity developed organically over a long period and its recent abrupt decline is evidence of the deliberate efforts of liberal intellectuals who have penetrated the churches "to dismantle the traditional Western socioreligious order and replace it with a multicultural, socialist utopia, bound together by a secular religion of universal brotherhood.(pp.7-8)"

Descriptive terms like "socialist utopia" and "secular religion" sound a lot like communism to me, a disastrous route to utopia for all who've taken it.

After identifying the current liberal immigration policies of the churches, Russell provides details on their development beginning with the foundations of immigration and church-state traditions in the colonies in the period from 1606-1833. Russell observes, "Religious and ethnic separatism, rather than widespread religious freedom and ethnic amalgamation, was the predominant mode of life in the early colonial period.(p.14)" Quoting The Puritan Experiment, Russell notes "From the very beginnings of the [Massachusetts] colony's history those who differed from the Puritan majority were encouraged to exercise their liberty to live elsewhere(p.14)" while "...Blacks were admitted to membership in the church on the same basis as their white masters and neighbors.(p.14)" Ironically, while the Puritans in New England admit blacks to their membership, the Anglicans in Jamestown have a paragraph in their charter that restricts Roman Catholics from entering or traveling in the Virginia colony. Though these early American religious communities tended to be ethnically homogenous, religion was the primary identifier.

Russell continues with the period from 1834-1929 when calls begin to emerge for immigration restriction. During this period, massive Irish immigration caused by the potato blight in Ireland generates a backlash of anti-Catholicism. There is the growth of universalism and abolitionism, but there are also healthy expressions of nativism and racial integrity. Josiah Strong writes "While on this continent, God is training the Anglo-Saxon race for its mission... he is preparing mankind to receive our impress.(p.37)" Such sentiments of racial and ethnic belonging are common enough among minorities today but rare, even taboo, among Europeans and their American descendants, though it was once customary for the American Catholic Church to allow the establishment of parishes reflecting the "various Catholic immigrant nationalities.(p.40)" There were German parishes, Irish parishes and Italian parishes; the same ethnically homogenous church communities the first colonists had naturally established when they were able to do so without interference, not the ethnically and culturally diverse and fractious church community of the 21st century I knew.

It is with the period from 1930-1965, in which, "there is near unanimity among the leaders of the Christian churches in favor of liberalized immigration policies(p.39)" that Russell is at his best providing a detailed analysis of the rapid and deliberate shift toward immigration expansion that has resulted in the traitorous open border policies of church and state in the 21st century. He identifies so many players and processes converting the churches from places of worship to halls of social activism it is a wonder the churches are recognizable at all. In the period of immigration expansion following liberalization, 1966 to the present, we find faith-based immigration initiatives funded increasingly by the state.

We threaten our social stability, the environment and our lives when we indiscriminately open our borders to terrorists, common criminals, infectious disease and millions of poor people. They murder us in our skyscrapers and infect us with exotic and fatal diseases in our fast food restaurants. Even if we consider the vast majority of illegal aliens refugees or even "innocents" there is no defensible argument for open borders. Illegal aliens by their sheer numbers alone are bankrupting our schools, our hospitals, and our local governments while churchmen cry, "so called illegal aliens" from the pulpits above us and look for a tithe.

Consider Russell's paradox:

If, in the act of embracing the greater human family, the policies of the Christian churches hasten the demise of those human families who have historically nurtured and maintained them, are they truly "universal" churches? Is it religion?

About the author

Richard Faussette, a graduate of CUNY (BA Psychology/Anthropology), is a freelance writer and the author of two essays "Natural Selection and the Nature of God" (1998) and "True Religion The Darwinian Interpretation of Biblical Symbols" (2002).