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 — 132 Comments

  1. Hmmm, interesting topic and comments. In the end, the government has the right to do what it must…to protect all people, protect the borders, to protect and enforce the laws of the land we all agree to as citizens. (and some do not like that, welcome to a polarized country). After all, Romans 13, no????

  2. Excellent, as always.

    From The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America … a common misdirected emotional plea …

    “The Holy Family were refugees. They fled for their lives from infanticide, and they weren’t documented when they were in Egypt. When we welcome the least people, it’s like we’re welcoming Christ,” she said.

    No. Jesus and His family were not refugees.

    This is how much taxpayer money LIRS receives for it’s refugee program from our gov’t. Something never smells right when a religious ‘nonprofit’ entity has that much collusion with being able to receive such exorbitant amounts of government money. Other religious organizations are turned down for much less, and are not even allowed to, at times, simply operate it’s own charitable institution without gov’t interference and threat of closure.

    “The Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) received the most in government grants of the eight charities The DCNF analyzed, raking in nearly $255 million — or 87 percent — of the total funding, data shows. A large portion of that money was awarded to assist refugees.”

  3. I can attest to the fact that my family members wanted to stay in their home countries of Syria and Lebanon.

    The family from Syria left because of extreme religious persecution of Christians over 100 years ago. The father, a University professor, begged Germany for help to be able to live in peace in Damascus. He was told, “Either convert or leave.” My father in law’s parents were both killed by the Druze in Beirut, Lebanon around the same time, forcing the 3 small children to be brought here and raised by uncles.

    There’s a third option: Regional resettlement. Regional resettlement is far more practical and gets the job done for less cost and stress upon the refugee, irrespective of the argument on whether to allow resettlement here.

  4. Good article.

    I’m curious if the LCMS justifies its support for LIRS by arguing that we must disobey the government in this circumstance because it is requiring us to go against God’s will.

    Regarding another part of this story. LCMS membership apparently wants to cooperate in externals with church bodies with different doctrine than ours? Why doesn’t it at least limit its cooperation to church bodies that believe in the inerrancy of Scripture and which hold beliefs that do not actively seek to persecute orthodox Christians for their faith?

  5. What exactly is the relationship between LIRS and the LCMS?
    Is LIRS an RSO?
    I think if the words of Ruth to Naomi in seeking to remain with Israel: “Thy people shall be my people, and thy God, my God.” (Ruth 1:16)
    Too often today (though certainly not always),immigrants say “My people will be thy people, and my God thy God.”

  6. I am truly sorry that Mr. Wood has had an unpleasant, and no doubt expensive experience in immigration. I have no doubt that LIRS is a horrific and dishonest organization. That being said, our immigration laws are embarrassing and awful. What’s worse is that there exists no will to truly fix them. Please, don’t be amongst the Lutherans who’ve hitched their wagons to the Trump train. Let’s make our business the Gospel, and not the worship of state.

  7. @Jeremy Royer #9

    I have zero desire to get into any kind of political argument on this site. That said, I, like many within our midst, hitched our wagons, as you put it, to Trump, to avoid the Molochian option. In addition, you are spreading your wide brush in the wrong direction. The business/responsibility of fixing the immigration issue belongs to our relatively “do-nothing” Congress. A quote from Cornell’s School of Law:

    Congress has complete authority over immigration. Presidential power does not extend beyond refugee policy. Except for questions regarding aliens’ constitutional rights, the courts have generally found the immigration issue as nonjusticiable.

    None of which impinges one whit whatsoever on our task of being about the Gospel. Wrongly laying blame at the President’s feet, or making light of those who backed Trump, is certainly not “being about the Gospel.”

    Pax – jb

  8. @Jeremy Royer #9

    Not sure where you got your info. My immigration experience was relatively cheap and full of bureaucratic
    Genuflection, but it was hardly traumatic.

    America’s immigration laws are liberal and benign. They are just not enforced – no fix is needed beyond doing what the law mandates.

    I’m so far off the Trump train… but you’re projecting on to me so it’s hard to know what the point is.

  9. Sorry Tim, you had said something to the effect of being required to prove your status, or something like that. I would assume that to be rather aggravating. And I am not projecting on to you. My point is clearly stated.

    Thanks for your reply.

  10. @Jeremy Royer #13

    I’m not clear what your point is about the gospel and the state relative to what LIRS and the LCMS are doing per the article and what is required of us ITO Scripture and the Confessions.

  11. @Jeremy Royer #13

    It reads to me like as though you’re trying to equate verifying immigration status with a knock at the door by the KGB in the middle of the night. If not, then my apologies.

    As a native born US citizen I’ve had to provide proof in the form of a birth certificate for various reasons over the years. Should I ever decide to apply for a passport, a birth certificate is required of me while a certificate of naturalization is required of a naturalized citizen. I’m also required to provide an approved form of ID when voting here in Kansas. It’s not onerous and I’m glad to do so as I am assured that no one else will be casting a vote in my name.

    Likewise, if I were legally in another country for whatever reason, then I should not be surprised when my documentation is examined and verified. It’s only if I were in another country illegally and hiding in the shadows that this would be a concern.

    As for Synod, I pray that they will do the right thing and cut ties with this organization.

  12. I think we need to always be cognizant of the impact advocacy of certain things has on our ability to proclaim the word of God, as Mr. Wood seems to suggest in this article. Pastor Prentice is entirely correct in his judgment that this is Romans 13 issue. “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God…Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.” Peter gives a similar command in his first epistle: “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to the governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.”

    In other words, how we comport ourselves as citizens reflects to the outside world our faith, and will show Christianity in either a positive or negative light. Encouraging people to break the law reflects negatively on Christianity and therefore hinders our ability to proclaim the gospel.

    The fact of the matter is that government does have a legitimate right to enact and enforce customs and immigration policy. We may have differing opinions on what that policy should be, but the government has the right and authority to enforce it as law. Therefore, we as Christians need to obey the law. Think about this in the broader picture, would we be justified in knowingly supporting our parishioners in violating other laws such as engaging in tax evasion, identity theft, etc.? Why would immigration law be any different?

    The other thing to consider is this: can we achieve an end of proclaiming the gospel and ministering to the needs of immigrants and refugees without transgressing the law? I think we can. What kinds of activities can that consist of? We can as congregations act as sponsors for legal immigrants, we can send missionaries to foreign countries, we can send teams to engage in things such as providing infrastructure, we can petition the government as individuals and through organizations to enact immigration and customs laws that we feel are in line with Biblical principles. All these things we can do without encouraging or engaging in law-breaking.

    I think Mr. Wood raises a very legitimate point here.

  13. @Sean #19
    You’re so right. After all, I’m sure that everyone here completely trusts Caesar to: educate their children, define marriage, select a health plan that has the proper contraception pills, and decide how close to the front lines our daughters should be. It’s not like we just went to the SCOTUS because we can’t even trust our benevolent, wise rulers to properly hand out rubber playground mulch after all…that would be crazy. Why couldn’t we fully trust Uncle Sam to care for the souls of people whose lives have been ruined by despots. Ours is a reasonable government after all. It’s not like we’re going around the world interfering with the God ordained leaders of other nations! Why, that wouldn’t be becoming of such a pious, orderly government. Our obedience to the state should definitely take precedent over the needs of these, filthy criminals.

  14. Jeremy – sigh . . .

    Not one post says anything of the kind that your words immediately above say we are saying! I called you specifically on your attitude and false accusations the first time. Tim tried to get you to be specific. You stomped off like a kid in a snit-fit

    And then, here you go again, tilting at windmills no one erected. It is one thing to have a valid point, it is quite another to come firing away at all targets and acting as you have.

    You know none of us, and to insinuate, as you did in that last post, that we all hold such views is both uncharitable and quite contrary to Isaiah’s “Come, let us reason together.”

    Try a different approach, ’cause yours ain’t working!

    Pax – jb

  15. @Jeremy Royer #20
    Thank you, Jeremy, I now understand your point, which is essentially that the sins of the imperialist neocon state translate to forfeiture of American sovereignty.

    Let’s refocus:
    1) The LCMS-ELCA partnership in LIRS gobbles down money from Caesar to resettle “refugees” and “immigrants”.

    2) Caesar says the money is conditional on never sharing the Gospel with these “refugees” and “immigrants”.

    3) LIRS says that’s a deal it can love, and will go to war to stop the Gospel from interfering with Caesar’s pieces of silver.

    4) Caesar has changed his mind, and decided that illegal immigrants and certain refugees are no longer to receive special favors.

    5) LIRS says that’s not a deal, and develops resources to frustrate Caesar, but makes sure to never transgress the ban on the Gospel.

    6) LIRS twists Scripture to slam LCMS and ELCA congregations with the Law so that they believe its behavior models Jesus, and that it is the true gospel.

    7) This tell us much about the LCMS as a corporation, and not much that we did not already know about LIRS and ELCA.

    8) Discuss and analyze.

  16. Hi Tim,
    I don’t know that forfeiture of sovereignty would necessarily be my end point but, that the American government has definitely proved itself to be an untrustworthy arbiter of right and wrong. In fact, I’m more likely to see our official policy on most matters to be the opposite of those that we, as Christians, should pursue. That said, thank you for the reset. If those were your original points I apologize for having missed them. You are right, we should neither take money from Ceaser, or withhold the truth of the Gospel because of a contract with them. I recall that the issue with LIRS has come up in the past and it is likely that the whole case against them was laid out in previous articles. Forgive me for my hazy recollection of those details. On the surface, it appeared that this conversation was another one about how we associated with the wrong sort of Christians again and we shouldn’t be caring for these refugees and other immigrants because of their status with the state. So you see, it looked like a debate between the political poles of left and right more than the kingdoms of left and right. Again I apologize for my misinterpretation.

    Generally, I think that it’s important for us to provide the care of both body and soul to any whom we might find in need of it. I am given hope by stories like those of Trinity in Berlin. It reminds me that God is very much alive and working in the world still. Too often, we can read the news and get caught in some kind of nationalistic fervor that leaves us applauding bombing campaigns and building walls to keep “those people” out. I just find these subjects to be gut wrenching. Seeing Lutherans cheer on or worse, participate in these ideals on behalf of the state is humiliating. It frankly causes me to struggle greatly with my faith. I believe that the Church should well be a refuge for the wounded soul, and I don’t much care how that soul has come to be on our doorstep.

    Either way I agree with you, if the position of LIRS is to withhold the Gospel from these needy souls we should, with haste, wash our hands of them. Again, forgive me for not grasping this point from your article.

  17. @Jeremy Royer #23

    To your point, how is that any different than the Rome that existed at the time that the epistle to the Romans was written, or Peter’s first general epistle which is widely understood to have been written during a time of persecution of Christians?

    Again, the point is not that we should not minister or proclaim the word, but so long as we can we should do so in a manner that does not transgress the law. We have that capability on this subject. I understand and appreciate your passion.

  18. @Jeremy Royer #23

    As a legal immigrant’s daughter, I’m afraid I come down on the side of those who enter this country legally. [If people begin by breaking one law, why should they respect “law” in general? Having lived in a ‘sanctuary-minded’ city for 20+ years, I’ll tell you they don’t!]
    I had a half dozen “fender benders” in that 20+ years, at my expense because the other driver was “undocumented” unlicensed and uninsured. Never did I receive a ticket for improper driving, but neither did my insurance company pursue the other driver for compensation because of the futility of it!!!
    My son helped me shop for a vehicle big enough to keep me safe [a pickup] so I was never hurt. Other people have not been so blessed and have lost their lives to this kind of accident.
    And that is only one kind of crime perpetrated by illegals in that city. A police detective warned me to move from one apt. complex because the neighborhood, OK when I moved in, was no longer safe. [I got a police report on the next one before I signed a lease.]

    People who owned their homes had fewer options when illegals took over the block. Some did not feel safe in their own front yards, with good reason. Asking trespassers to stay out of your yard was an invitation to have your tires slashed!

    And yet the “do-gooders” in that city [whose neighborhoods are safe and secure on the high side of town] want to champion the ’cause’ of the “undocumented” over the rights of citizens.

  19. @Jeremy Royer #23

    Either way I agree with you, if the position of LIRS is to withhold the Gospel from these needy souls we should, with haste, wash our hands of them. Again, forgive me for not grasping this point from your article.

    Any entity that derives the bulk of its funding from the government is in danger of having to give up Christianity. “Lutheran” in lirs is a sick joke; it’s only there to deceive LCMS Lutherans into giving them money. It’s run by ***A, declared an “apostate” church by our SP.
    So why are we still involved in it!?

  20. I’m against any kind of encouragement of most immigrants these days [1], but wanted to mention that there is actually a MO “RSO” that helps immigrants. It is Christian Friends of New Americans It may only be in the STL area.

    I have it in private email from a member of that org that they do not receive government money [2]. So maybe they are a better model and one that could possibly be supported by the synod – which MUST disconnect from the L I a R S / ELCA corruption. ELCA: have a look at the jihadi murders at Catholic Charities in Fresno a few days ago. Careful!

    Something like 300 families of immigrants were mentioned publicly in my church. Unless they were all women, children and men over 50, that was an incitement to, say 51% of us. But the CFNA spokesman answered all of my questions in what seemed like a transparent way. The number of converts mentioned, though, was tiny.

    I also asked what our plans were to protect the women and children who do convert, but didn’t really get any answer to that. Congregations: think in a _hard_ way about security, please.

    [1] According to SJWs (49% of MO congregants?) I am a bigot. I’ll even stipulate it here, noting that the term has lost all meaning, thanks to the SJWs.

    [2] The immigrants would be receiving such, though, to the loss of congregants and others born here. By supporting the new waves of immigration, we’re taxing and endangering all of our fellow citizens (uh, “neighbors”). Can that be stealing and murdering?

  21. Yet another insult related to the material mentioned in this article is the prominent MO neverTrumpers, who seemed willing to read Trump’s heart and not even consider his stated intentions about abortion and many other things important to us. They would not admit it, but their indifference (at best) was a kind of support for Clinton and all that goes with her.

    On a positive note, I was informed the other day that the impudent neverTrumper Ben Sasse (rhymes with) abandoned us Lutherans a long time ago. So we don’t have that baggage, at least.

  22. I apologize if my comment spun this into the political realm. I really meant to keep it along the lines of how the church, and its affiliated ministries, should respond.

  23. @Sean #24
    It’s funny isn’t it, that Gods word tells us to succumb to civil authorities, and the very first people to read this were breaking the law by their very existence. I guess it’s not different necessarily except that the whole form of government is changed. We no longer have a supreme emperor who thinks himself a god. In theory that’s true at least, though the last two may argue that point. Here, we’re supposed to be free. This has changed I guess.

    For the purpose of clarity, I’m also not suggesting that Christians are being persecuted in America today, nor have we been in recent years. Rather, wherever we’ve seen regimes toppled around the world, Christians in those countries have been those who have suffered for it. Too often, these regime changes have had American dollars, arms, and counter intelligence behind them. Often even our boots on the ground. This has been true with each administration in this century. So I guess I beg the question, is our submission to Caesar, persecuting Christians around the world? Isn’t it possible that some of this refugee and illegal immigration debacle, really our problem to fix?

  24. @Jeremy Royer #32

    I won’t pretend to have a temporal answer for the political and economic turmoil that exists in the world. Our government certainly doesn’t have it. These things exist because of sin, pure and simple. These problems are spiritual, not political. The real answer is Jesus. Putting our faith in the institutions of man to fix the fruits of sin is a false hope. In the temporal realm we as Christians have a responsibility to be involved in trying to influence the institutions we have to submit to God’s will. But we also have a responsibility to submit to their authority. Let each man figure out how to do that in a way that honors god.

  25. Dear Tim,

    Thanks for the research on LIRS. Since it is under the control of ELCA folks, these things you describe are not surprising, given all of the ELCA legislation on these and related “liberation theology” matters.

    You might have mentioned the long and distinguished history of the LC-MS “Pilgerhaus” in New York City and other legitimate work the LC-MS has done with immigrants.

    Here is a quote from the LC-MS history by W.M.T Dau, ed., Ebenezer (St Louis: CPH, 1922), p. 451: In the great flood of German immigration that came to our shores after the Civil War, there were many Lutherans who, being ignorant of the language and ways of our country, fell an easy prey to the money-sharks and swindlers that infested the harbors of New York and Baltimore in those days. Then it was that the sainted Kev. Stephen Keyl founded our Immigrant Mission at New York in 1868, which Synod took over in the early seventies, purchasing later its far-famed “Pilgerhaus” at No. 8 State St., in which thousands of immigrants found secure lodging, and from which they could be safely sent on to their ultimate destination. From 1870 to 1883 Pastor Keyl cared for 27,000 immigrants, found work for 1,042 and lent newcomers $47,252, all but $5,000 being finally paid back. When the United States Government took over the care and the forwarding of immigrants direct from Ellis Island, our “Pilgerhaus” had to close its doors after harboring at the outbreak of the World War over 3,000 refugees and German seamen. The house was sold for a goodly sum in 1917 and the money deposited with our Lutheran Immigrant Society, Incorporated, New York, which is to use the funds for Immigrant and Seamen’s Missions as the exigencies demand. At the 1920 Delegate Synod this Society reported $2,780.90 given outright for charity, loans amounting to $1,281.42, and the receipt and disbursement of $97,104.50 for various purposes. From 1891 to 1920 the donations direct amounted to $52,811.96.

    Going by memory now, I believe that the Lutheran Immigrant Society was merged into the LIRS (which had other Lutheran synod origins) when LCUSA was formed in the 1960s. That would have led to a loss of LC-MS control of policy and activities. Somebody can correct me on this if I am in error, since I am beginning to pack my books and files.

    Another issue that you don’t mention is that the U.S. government has involved itself in many areas of charity and social work where it used to leave matters to the churches or aid societies to determine their own policies. I would not be surprised if the U.S. government today has rather strict policies about “proselytizing” immigrants. I seem to remember something about this being the reason that LC-MS has withdrawn from direct work in this area. You can’t pass judgment against the LC-MS until you know the laws in these areas. Again, someone can correct me on this.

    Still, the LC-MS has great interest in evangelizing immigrants where that is possible and in cooperation with U.S. Law. Recently President Harrison has directed that aid from the synod budget go to assist refugee work by the SELK (our sister church) in Germany (see ).

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  26. @Martin R. Noland #34

    When I visited Ellis Island, the recorded history spoke of various Christian and other volunteer groups, which helped their ethnic immigrants primarily, with language and other problems, and had space in the Ellis Island facility to do that, as I remember it.

  27. @Martin R. Noland #34

    Marty, the LIRS is NOT “under the control of ELCA folks.” That is a patent falsehood. The LCMS continually refers to the LIRS as its “ministry.” LCMS clergy and laity have and continue to be board members of the LIRS. LCMS district presidents, chiefly of saltwater fame, continually praise LIRS and its many-tentacled affiliates.

    As for “evangelizing immigrants,” that too is load of phooey. The LIRS chiefly aids in the importation and support of Muslims. The LIRS does not evangelize them. The LIRS chiefly relies on federal tax dollars, coming out of your pocket, to do its “work.”

    Marty, you’ve to realize that “putting the best construction on things” does not include whitewashing.

  28. A civil society benefits from both justice and mercy.

    From the LIRS web site: “LIRS advocates for the humane enforcement of U.S. immigration laws.”

    More information about their position on immigration enforcement and related concerns can be found at

  29. @Carl H #37

    First, no one advocates against “the human enforcement of U.S. immigration laws.” However, for the past 8 years we have not had the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws. In fact, the Obama administration picked and chose which laws it would enforce, while ignoring the others.

    Second, this issue isn’t about “immigration enforcement and related concerns.” The issue is about the immigration-industrial-complex, chiefly subsidized by federal tax dollars, benefitting the LIRS and eight other federal VOLAGS, who are in the BUSINESS of importing refugees, as well as the clear COLLUSION between these thinly-veneered religious organizations and the religious institutions, such as The LCMS, which support them.

  30. @Robert #38

    Our pseudo-Christian LIRS imports muslims when it’s Christians who were/are being crucified [men]and enslaved [women] in Iraq… (and from the White House, “crickets” because Obama would not admit that there was/is such a thing as a killer muslim). [Neither will LIRS.] When some other little (non-Christian) minority was getting wiped out later, it got a few paragraphs in the MSM and some notice from Obama.

    FOR A FAT SALARY, they betray the oldest Christian communities in the world!!!
    I don’t see how they look in the mirror!

  31. So you have the occasional mote viewer that mixes politics and religion and wants to lay a load of guilt on the conservative Christian who agrees with the policy of controlled immigration and extreme vetting. The latter is told by the former that he is a hypocrite for not caring for his needy neighbor and for violating the great and second commandment of Christ to love and serve our neighbor, and all because the latter wants a rational policy that keeps those out of our country who refuse to assimilate or intend us harm. The former attributes mean and miserly motivation to the latter and assures him that one day he will hear the words of Christ saying, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me,” just before pressing the eject button on the arm of the great white throne of judgement. How dare he hoard the American dream to himself and deny it to others?

    Sound familiar?

    But what about our other neighbor, our next door neighbor or our family member neighbor? Don’t we owe them a duty of service, vigilance, and protection? Don’t we owe them a government that enforces a prudent and precautionary policy in the age of rampant terrorism? How far do we take this absurdity to prove to your satisfaction our Christian credentials? What would finally satisfy the jury presiding over the trial of the misanthropic, xenophobic, selfish Christian who refuses to share this land with Mary-and-Joseph-like refugees and sojourners? Must we greet them at the concourse gate and immediately offer our tunic and cloak along with a cold cup of water? Do we buck the system and repeatedly chant Acts 5:29 in protest of U.S. immigration law. Tell me, what will quell your pious, holier-than-Moses, disparaging remarks and criticism? What will it take to stop the mouth of the accusers? Question: Does immigration law kill? Does it steal? Does it commit adultery? Does it facilitate or cause abortions? Does it cause churches to redefine marriage and morality? When it does, let me know and then I’ll join you in chanting Acts 5:29 down at the courthouse all day long. Until then, Romans 13:1-7 applies.

  32. @Abby #2

    No, Jesus was illegally in Egypt. Let’s not fight that battle. Let’s expose them for what they are really saying.

    They are saying that we have to do works to be good Christians. They are demanding we reopen what has been finished, and re-do Christ’s work. So we should expose them for them emphasis on the sin of Moralism. Taking away from worshiping Jesus to focusing us on worshiping our “works”.

    Moreover, then take it a level deeper and say, since Jesus converted wine at the reception then we must all travel around with trunks full of wine to every reception today. And since Christ fed the 5k, then we too must have hills full of people to feed. No, when we are our brother’s keeper we are not charged with doing all things for all people –Powered by the Holy Spirit for God’s glory alone of course.

    These are the lies of Satan. It’s making us feel as though we are “bad Christians”. Well I will say this, there are no “good Christians”. We should not strive to be “good Christians”. This leads us down the wrong path. For there is One who has done what is necessary to be saved. And He is arisen indeed.

  33. @Big Boy #41

    Jesus was illegally in Egypt.

    I don’t see how you can say that without knowledge of the laws of the time.

    But aside from that, your argument about works righteousness has some merit… and notice that they are not arguing that you should do good to your literal neighbor, whom you know, or a member of the “household of faith” who may need your help. [Lutherans are somehow allergic to helping their own, in my experience.]

    No, the “good works” have to be their choice.
    [And if they are, incidentally, making a good living on the deal, please don’t notice!]

  34. @helen #42

    I do not believe the latin rights to Ius migrationis were conferred upon the Jews. Therefore, travel to and living in Egypt would have been illegal.

    If it was, I do not believe Jesus was counted in the census as Scripture does not say He was (mat2 13-15). I read that as they fled. So He would not have had any rights confered upon him being “undocumented”.

    You really steal from the argument in asking me to defend this – it’s not about this. Allowing people to rope us into this type of thinking is the real problem. We are to be focused on our utter dependence in Christ, not who is it next that we have to help to be saved.

  35. @Big Boy #43

    You really steal from the argument in asking me to defend this.

    It’s your “rabbit trail”; you brought the extraneous material into the discussion.

    Now you’ve taken it one further by saying that “you not believe” Jesus was counted in the census [in Bethlehem]. Since I’m hearing more and more that commentators think the Magi may have arrived up to two years after Jesus was born, there was ample time for him to be counted in the census!
    [I don’t know if I would go quite that far, myself, but they were in Bethlehem at least for the 40 days Mary had to allow before going up to the temple to make the offering for herself and the newborn.]
    [I could go on, but you are right: the discussion is not about the Holy Family who were not penniless “illegals”].

    It’s about conning the LCMS into supporting law breaking and law breakers now!)

  36. It is like the LC-MS want to be party to it’s own destruction. The reality is that Christian America can no longer support the influx of Muslims and Catholics into this country. We are a Synod that was made strong through common religion and cultural ideals. Why the LC-MS wants it’s members to break the law, turn against their president, and intentionally bring in those that would kill us and undermine our values is beyond me.

  37. @Big Boy #41

    The article below addresses the point about Jesus and His family being ‘refugees’ or not. I have read other explanations which also said the Holy Family were not ‘refugees.’, One such point: “As for fleeing to Egypt, this argument posits that since Egypt was part of the Roman Empire, and Joseph and Mary were Romans and Jews, the couple had every right to be anywhere in the empire where Jews were allowed to settle.”

    The point of calling Jesus and His family “refugees” is being used by some people by which to judge the compassion, or lack of, by Christians on this issue. But I agree with you, it is not the issue of this debate. It’s just being used to manipulate. I singled it out because it was used by the ELCA Bishop in conjunction with the LIRS work.

    By Pastor Hans Fiene …

  38. Such a shotgun approach to criticism does little to promote dialog. Much heat and very little light. My question to Stead Fast Lutherans is this “Do you really want to dialog?” I would not mind doing so for any of the points mentioned in this article. Let the dialog begin. Perhaps we could debate the point of the very title of the article which appears to have no evidence at all presented that this is fact the case.

  39. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    I finally carved out a bit of time in my busy packing, moving, transitioning schedule to do some of my own research on this topic.

    I am not going to try to argue about the merits of various US policies regarding immigration. That is a political, not a church issue. And I won’t argue about what LIRS is or is not doing. You can find that out by looking at their website here:

    What I doubt is Mr. Wood’s assertion about the LC-MS relationship to LIRS today.

    It may be confusing to many people about how the LC-MS, as a synod or church organization, relates to other organizations. Let’s look at that first.

    Relationship with other church bodies is called “church fellowship.” In the LC-MS, that is addressed and evaluated by the President of Synod (bylaw; I am using the 2013 Handbook here), by his assistant for Church Relations, and by the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (bylaw section 3.9.5).

    Relationship with organizations that are not churches, but are service organizations of one form or another, are addressed and evaluated by the synodical office or board which is closest in type to their form of activity. The bylaws governing this are in bylaw section 6.2 (2013 Handbook, pp. 203-204).

    Organizations that have been evaluated by the respective LC-MS office or board to “foster the mission and ministry of the church, engage in program activity that is in harmony with the programs of the boards of the Synod, and respects and does not act contrary to the doctrine and practice of the Synod” are given Recognized Service Organization status {aka RSO} (bylaw 6.2.1; page 203). Organizations that fail these criteria are not given RSO status.

    The LC-MS can only have “church fellowship” with other churches, by definition. Organizations with RSO status are not in “church fellowship” because they are not churches, but they have been given official approval by the synod-as-a-whole, so that member congregations and members of those congregations may support those RSOs with good conscience and with their time, talent, or treasure, knowing that their participation in that RSO is not contrary to the doctrine and policies of the LC-MS, but in concurrence with it.

    At times, an RSO may veer away from its founding or stated purposes and policies. LC-MS members may then petition the office or board which granted the RSO status for a review of that status. RSO status may be withdrawn if the respective LC-MS office or board determines that the complaints are valid and of sufficient merit for that action.

    Now to the LIRS. It does NOT have RSO status. That means that it does not meet all of the RSO criteria, namely, “foster the mission and ministry of the church, engage in program activity that is in harmony with the programs of the boards of the Synod, and respects and does not act contrary to the doctrine and practice of the Synod.” I would be very surprised if LIRS never attempted to gain RSO status. It currently is not in RSO status because it does not meet the criteria, or because it never applied. So LIRS is not an RSO, is not in church fellowship with the LC-MS, and is not in any type of relationship with the LC-MS.

    So why do some folks think LIRS is in relationship with the LC-MS? It is listed in the Lutheran Annual under the category of “Inter-Lutheran Entities” (2017 Lutheran Annual, p. 767). If you look at how that section of the Annual is organized, it is pretty clear that these entities are not RSOs. But I suppose the publisher/editor could have made that clearer by putting a disclaimer right on that page.

    The other “Inter-Lutheran Entities” are also not RSOs: Lutheran Services in America, Lutheran World Relief, and International Lutheran Council. The first two are similar to LIRS, in that they do not meet the RSO criteria. The last is different in type, because it is a council of churches–consisting of all (or almost all) LC-MS partner churches.

    You might ask: Why do we have addresses and contact info for church organizations we are not in fellowship or RSO or partnership with? It is partly due to the history of the Lutheran Annual, which goes back in history to the old Kalendar for German Lutherans in America, that listed every organization for German Lutherans whether or not they were in fellowship. It is partly due to the convenience and use of having such information in one place. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind having more information about the WELS and ELS in particular in our Lutheran Annual, but it is already bigger than most phone books, so I am not complaining here. In any event, I don’t see a problem with listing the LIRS in our Lutheran Annual–such listing makes sense to me.

    The other reason someone might think the LC-MS is in an relationship with LIRS is because the LIRS says that they represent LC-MS on their website and they have LC-MS laymen on their board of directors. Is this false advertising by LIRS? No, but I think it is deceptive. It gives the impression that the activities and publications of LIRS have the full or partial approval of the LC-MS. If that were the case, LIRS would be an RSO. But the general public doesn’t know that, so LIRS can get away with this.

    Does any organization that have LC-MS laymen on its board of directors have a “relationship” with the LC-MS? Not really. Such an organization has a relationship with some lay members, but not an approved relationship with the LC-MS. Shall we prohibit LC-MS laymen from participating in any and all organizations, unless such organizations have the specific RSO approval of the LC-MS? No, that would be ridiculous, i.e., worthy of ridicule.

    So what do we do about the LIRS? The officers of the LC-MS can’t do much of anything, since LIRS is not an RSO. LC-MS officers can advise LIRS, but that is about it. LC-MS had a bit more clout in the days before the merger of the AELC, ALC, and LCA into the ELCA. We were one of the three big Lutheran synods, and the other two respected us, even if they disagreed. I don’t see that same sort of respect in the ELCA. They are the “big guys”, and we are the “little guys” now.

    The U.S. government wants to deal with “Lutherans” not a bunch of synods, so the “big guys” get the attention and the “little guys” often get ignored. In activities that work closely with government offices, as LIRS does, it is often the case that if we are not working with the “big guys” we won’t be invited at all.

    That is the dilemma. Do we want ELCA to be “the voice of Lutheranism in America”–or do we step up to the mike, and let our voice also be heard by the government in areas of charitable activities that are legislated and controlled by the government?

    Maybe the planned LC-MS office of government information (or whatever it is going to be called) can be a better way of accomplishing our goals than working through LIRS.

    As to whether confessional Lutherans should be involved in charitable activities of any sort, Luther said, “YES” and Walther said, “YES.” Both were involved in setting up charitable organizations in various degrees. The history of LC-MS involvement is told in: F. Dean Lueking, A Century of Caring, 1868-1968 (St. Louis: Board of Social Ministry, 1968). The history of LC-MS work with immigrants and refugees is told in: Richard Solberg, Open Doors: The Story of Lutherans Resettling Refugees (St. Louis: CPH, 1992). I have also authored an essay titled “Is Charitable Work an Expression of the ‘Social Gospel’ or Jesus’ Gospel” in The Mercy of God in the Cross of Christ: Essays on Mercy in Honor of Glenn Merritt (see ). I encourage you to read my essay if you have any doubts as to whether we as Bible-believing Lutherans should be involved in charity for our neighbors, which includes the “sojourner.”

    I again offer my thanks to Mr. Wood for his research and reportage on this subject.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  40. @Martin R. Noland #47

    Wonderful article as always.

    > LIRS says that they represent LC-MS on their website

    Tacit approval by MO. Not good. In this case I would give a task to our lawyers, if necessary.

  41. @mbw #48


    Could you please give me a link to where LIRS says that they represent LC-MS on their website.

    Kind Regards,

    Michael Baun

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