LCMS Roped Into Deportation Evasion Scheme

Source: Cato Institute

There would be Twitter-worthy convulsions if a Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) affiliated agency was giving aid and comfort to Planned Parenthood. By contrast, there is almost total indifference to a Synod partner helping illegal aliens to evade deportation.

As a profiteer from the industrialization of refugee resettlement and illegal immigration, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS) has updated its “Be Not Afraid” campaign for the Trump era. It encourages “immigrant parishioners and neighbors” and churches to frustrate immigration law enforcement in the name of “not being afraid”; whatever that means.

LIRS has an ignoble history of corrupting the Fourth Commandment, confounding the Three Estates, and confusing the Two Kingdoms, all in the name of a supposedly most virtuous civil disobedience and social justice. It long ago renounced its founding Lutheran identity, exchanging what it once cherished for the nondescript liberation theology that emasculated and depopulated the mainline churches.

Adept at Newspeak, LIRS’s “immigrants” are actually the citizens of other countries who have entered the United States without permission and are, by legal definition, illegal aliens. According to LIRS and the migration lobby, anybody who wishes to live in America has an unlimited right to do so.

When illegal aliens are confronted with the consequences of their decisions, LIRS goes into hyperbolic overdrive with statements such as, “Many of our immigrant neighbors across the country are currently living in deep fear of raids that would rip families apart and devastate communities.”

As a legal immigrant and knowing many other legal immigrants, I can attest that we do not “live in deep fear of raids”. We are sometimes required to prove our residency status, and we co-operate without ginning up offense and outrage. We immigrants are not entitled to superior rights than the natural-born citizens we live alongside.

In collaboration with its leftist fellow travelers, LIRS is enforcing a substitute lexicon that obfuscates or disappears once common terms. “Illegal alien” has been suppressed on pain of public shaming. “Refugee” used to be reserved for innocents fleeing war. Now it is routinely used for illegal alien migrants from basket case countries. More insidiously, everyone is lumped under the umbrella of “newcomers”. The term has a focus group calibrated tension between illegal alien entitlement and the guilt and compassion of host citizens.

LCMS higher-ups privately acknowledge that LIRS has no Lutheran identity beyond its misleading name. Yet the LCMS sustains the very public “partnership” based on the shibboleth of “cooperation in externals”. LIRS, however, clearly violates the conditions for “cooperation in externals” set forth in Principles for Cooperation in Externals with Theological Integrity (2010 Res. 3-03).

  1. No compromise of the teachings of Holy Scripture as explicated in the Confessions”. Since LIRS feeds at the public trough, it must vow never to proselytize any “newcomers”. This is a federal edict LIRS fastidiously abides by – I defy anyone to preach Christ and Him crucified to a LIRS intake… That’s more than a compromise. It’s a sellout. Aside from burying the Gospel, a good deal of what LIRS does and causes is immoral and unethical (e.g. stimulating the market in human trafficking; enticing parents to send their children on dangerous journeys alone; undermining the rule-of-law; soft-selling consequent criminal activity such as identity theft; increasing taxpayer burdens; and so on).
  2. …the cooperative effort [must not be] an act of fellowship in the Word and Sacraments (unionism)”. The ‘Be Not Afraid’ campaign literature has abominable and cynically manipulative theological resources that are intended for use in Worship and Sunday School. LIRS states unequivocally that the LCMS will be assisting with the propaganda project, not for Gospel reasons, but to “affirm community and abate fear”. In other words, the LCMS is the Ivanov to ELCA’s Gletkin. It is unionism even if the LCMS Synodocrats insist that no jot or tittle has been displaced in their beloved bylaws.
  3. …where, for the sake of that [doctrinal] integrity, [cooperative work] must cease”. The LCMS lays itself open to charges of hypocrisy when it walks the public square with two faces. As the Synod continues to ramp up its public engagement, especially in asserting its religious liberty rights, LIRS is a millstone that mocks our doctrinal integrity. It shows that the LCMS is vulnerable to the lure of public virtue signaling, which will be endlessly exploited.

The LCMS has the means and capacity to provide refugee and immigration services in close proximity to Word and Sacrament Ministry, which is the standard for human care programs of the Synod. The great mystery is why it declines to do so.

We long ago asked Synod a series of questions about the relationship with LIRS, and were promised a full response. Nearly a year-and-a-half later, the questions remain unanswered, and LIRS continues to defenestrate LCMS doctrine and practice.


LCMS Roped Into Deportation Evasion Scheme — 54 Comments

  1. @Martin R. Noland #47 Thank you, Pastor, for taking so much time to respond and share your knowledge and experience.

    Please allow me to address a few items that you touched on

    Perceptions and Facts About the LIRS – LCMS Relationship.
    Yes, LIRS fits into that amazing category of Synodical Plausible Deniability (SPD). Another example I saw a few years ago was an advertisement for a male OR female pastor to minister in Lutheran Senior Service Homes. In these situations it seems that ELCA and LCMS doctrine and praxis can be melded as long as you’re just an old codger requiring shut-in services – take what you get.

    1) The relationship with LIRS is far tighter than mere laymen on the board – Rev. Bart Day is a board member and a Committee Chairman. Pr. Day is one of the most powerful men in the LCMS as the Executive Director of the Office of National Mission, and has the ear of the President.

    2) LIRS has received special commendation and visibility at LCMS Conventions.

    3) Various LCMS Districts have relationships with LIRS, primarily through regional entities.

    4) LIRS prepares special literature for LCMS congregations, often in the form of repurposed theological material that has been sanitized. I have it on first hand and high authority that this sanitization takes place at LCMS HQ. In once instance there was an error that resulted in ELCA heresy reaching LCMS congregations for “Refugee Sunday”.

    5) LIRS makes specific reference to LCMS activities.

    6) Funding has declined, but the LCMS has taken large sums of money from offering plates to give to LIRS.

    Government Dealing With American Lutherans
    1) I highly doubt that anyone in the government agencies concerned cares one whit which denomination is participating. They do not know Lutherans from Hindus; it’s simply about dispersing cash to organizations that can take on the load.

    2) The “LIRS Effect” is to signal to government and the whole Beltway complex that Lutheranism is a monolithic entity. Since ELCA representatives control the agenda, the perception is that LIRS theology is LCMS theology. I challenge the CTCR to place a stamp of orthodoxy on LIRS materials, which are guilty of the worst spiritualizing of texts for purposes of hammering consumers with the Law.

    3) A senior LCMS official has admitted to me that LIRS is not recognizably Lutheran. Since that is the case, I have asked why the Synod does not just go with the Baptists, or Catholics, or Episcopalians, or some secular agency? I do not see any evidence that LIRS is better than Catholic Charities in this space. So, clearly to me at least, LCMS officialdom is very desirous of being associated with LIRS rather than immigration and refugee services. I contend that those are two different, though related, things.

    Mercy, Witness and Life Together
    We must surely undertake all kinds of mercy work, and all LCMS mercy work is conditioned on doing it in close proximity to Word and Sacrament Ministry. That is the proper posture otherwise we are not the Church.

    However, LIRS is prohibited from sharing the Gospel with its clients as a condition of public funding.. Simply put, the LCMS has knelt to Caesar and accepted that it may not provide Word and Sacrament Ministry to “immigrants” and refugees who are resettled by its partner.

    LIRS will not tell you where new arrivals are, or how to contact them. The only way to launch a mission to a resettled individual or family is through some serendipity. That is not Mercy with Witness and Life Together.

    The message to resettled individuals is also clear – churches are a meal ticket. We have seen repeatedly in our history that dangling “goodies” in front of people is not the way to do missions. Likewise, the implicit message to LCMS pew dwellers is confounding – help people by all means, but leave Jesus out of it.

    My views are corroded by cynicism, much of which stems from the LCMS refusing to respond transparently on LIRS specifically, and the mission implications of the modern immigration and refugee crisis generally. LIRS is purposefully silent – it refuses to return my messages because it has no interest in informing, only in shaping opinion.

  2. @T Wood #52

    Again I see no support that the LIRS engages in deportation evasion schemes. You make this claim with no supporting evidence. The idea that a LCMS pastor actually cares enough to care for refugees is turned into a guilt by association argument. It doesn’t surprise me that with notions supported by little and possibly no evidence except heresay that LIRS would not respond.

  3. I donate to this Christian organization because it helps both Christians and Muslims in their homeland. They are much closer to us in orthodoxy. IOCC has worked in the Middle East for a long time. Their integrity is very high in the use of their donations — 92% of money given is used on the field.

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