The Church and Immigration

In a world where many are afraid of terrorist attacks from radical Islam and drugs from Mexico, some think the Church is insane to have its current pro-immigration stance. However, there are two important points the Church considers in establishing its stance.

First, immigration has long been the lifeblood of the Church. When Joseph and the Church were struggling in Kirtland, Missouri and Nauvoo, he did not hunker the members down to weather storm. Instead, he sent out missionaries.

In the middle of the Missouri trials, Joseph sent one of his staunchest supporters, Heber C. Kimball to England. While there, Heber converted hundreds of people, the majority of whom immigrated to join the Saints.

Parley P. Pratt traveled to eastern Canada and converted John Taylor, the future third president of the Church. When Joseph Smith was slain at Carthage, 10 of the 12 apostles were off on missions, mostly in the eastern United States.

Brigham Young would continue the missionary work, sending elders to Europe, Hawaii, and into Asia.  All of this, while Johnston’s army and anti-polygamy forces were continually buffeting and threatening the Church.

All of those immigrants that braved the Atlantic crossing, only to then hitch wagon teams or pull handcarts, became the heart and soul of Deseret. Without all of those immigrants, there would not be a Mormon Church today.

So important was this early immigration period that Isaiah prophesied about it:

The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.  And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:1-3)

But what about now and into the future?  This is where the second point on immigration comes into play.

The Lord foresaw a point of massive immigration from around the world of a people that would join the Saints and build the city of Zion in the last days:

And the Lord, even the Savior, shall stand in the midst of his people, and shall reign over all flesh. And they who are in the north countries shall come in remembrance before the Lord; and their prophets shall hear his voice, and shall no longer stay themselves; and they shall smite the rocks, and the ice shall flow down at their presence.  And an highway shall be cast up in the midst of the great deep. Their enemies shall become a prey unto them, And in the barren deserts there shall come forth pools of living water; and the parched ground shall no longer be a thirsty land.  And they shall bring forth their rich treasures unto the children of Ephraim, my servants. And the boundaries of the everlasting hills shall tremble at their presence.  And there shall they fall down and be crowned with glory, even in Zion, by the hands of the servants of the Lord, even the children of Ephraim. And they shall be filled with songs of everlasting joy. Behold, this is the blessing of the everlasting God upon the tribes of Israel, and the richer blessing upon the head of Ephraim and his fellows” (DC 133:25-34). 

Here we see the lost tribes of Israel, and perhaps others, coming to the Americas from the “north countries”, which were lands north of the country of Israel, to receive a blessing from Ephraim (the LDS Church). This must occur as part and parcel of the establishment of Zion, as the lost tribes are to help build the city and temple.

The very core of the gospel revolves around immigrants. It is a repeated story of the children of God seeking the Promised Land. Enoch built a city for refugees from the violence of Noah’s time Noah escaped the wickedness of the world and the Floods, as a refugee on a boat.  Melchizedek built the city of Salem as a refuge from Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham wandered from Ur to find a land promised to him by God. The Jaredites escaped the Tower of Babel and traveled across the sea in barges. Lehi and Nephi were guided from the evils of Jerusalem to a Promised Land in a ship built by Nephi. The Pilgrims were guided by God to the New World, where they could worship God as they saw fit.

The problem with much of today’s immigration is that we allow people to immigrate without having them embrace their new life and culture. When Muslims are not integrated into western society, they retain the best and worst of their previous culture. When we do not let Hispanics enter and join our society fully, they remain on the edges, encouraging the darkest parts of culture to come forward.  We see the same occurring with those forced to come to America in the bounds of slavery, often left on the edges of society, where they do not feel like a part of the Promised Land.

The new call for the Relief Society to reach out a hand to refugees and immigrants is not a new call. After World War II, the Relief Society sent train car loads of grain, food, clothing and blankets to the refugees in war-torn Europe. When the immigrants in the Willie and Martin handcart companies were brought in from the storms, the sisters were ready to take them into their homes, often for years,

There is a consistent pattern in how the Church invites refugees and immigrants. They are the children of God. As such, they deserve a chance to be loved and helped.

36 thoughts on “The Church and Immigration

  1. Great post!!! You literally took the words right out of my mouth… like literally. I was creating almost the same post 🙂 We need more LDS voices to address this issue. I have been unhappily surprised with how many of my friends vocalize distain for the immigrants. Honestly, at one time, we were all strangers.

  2. I have a sister who served a mission many years ago in a center of immigration in a different country. The local members who had been there for a long time would gently suggest to the missionaries they should go find some nice white investigators instead of these foreigners. My sister bit her tongue and didn’t retort that they were finding those who could be found (or telling the xenophobes they could jolly well go help find white people, if they wanted white people in the ward).

    At a time when our stake had several branches divided according to ethnic grouping (e.g., hispanic, asian), my mother got really feisty to a friend about how racist that was (particularly lumping Cambodians and Laotians in the same congregation just after the time of the Killing fields). She said, “Why don’t they have a Swedish ward and an Italian ward!?!” But, then, my tall white mom is a person who married a shorter brown Chinese man back when inter-racial marriages were forbidden in her state and many other states in the nation.

    We are all children of God. We have all suffered. We must reach out to those in need of help.

  3. I commend integrating immigrants and helping refugees, but I thought the church also wanted to build stakes of Zion throughout the world.

    Open borders for Europe and the US is cultural and economic suicide. I don’t know all the answers but the current trend among some that everyone has a right to go to the West and while countries can up and move to the west is lunacy.

    I’m not being critical of the church, even though my view is that their compassion is somewhat naive in the long run…. I believe the church members and the world altogether needs to take more responsibility and compassion to refugees (and all those suffering), but mass migration is not the answer.

  4. “Open borders for Europe and the US is cultural and economic suicide.”

    The degradation of American culture can hardly be blamed on recent immigrants. If Donald Trump won’t stand as your Exhibit 1 in that argument, then substitute Kim Kardashian instead.

    And, economic suicide? There’s substantial evidence that recent levels of immigration have had a generally positive effect on incomes in the U.S.

  5. An economically viable can either have a large welfare state or open borders, by buy both at the same time.

    I think the govt should should fine all religious institutions for the welfare these illegal immigrants within their congregations drain from us society. Saying you should let them in is one thing, paying for them is another. If the Lds church wants to not require Ruggerie members to obey the laws of the land, they, not lae avoiding us citizens should pay for all of their social services.

  6. Mark B.

    I have to respectfully disagree with your opinions.

    I do not blame “all” our problems on immigrants, who I believe are a majority decent human beings.(Their is a large segment that are not, but just like any large group of people, including Americans)

    However, you have to be blind not to see the negative effects of an open southern border in California. High government spending and little results with no respect for law.

    There is more substantial evidence that recent level of immigration has been generally negative for most middle class Americans. Not to mention the costs to local governments and the environment. But if you think our record breaking immigration (without the consent of the American people) have been generally positive for the American people… what is your limit on immigration? Right now we let in more than 1 million a year…. 2 million? 3 million? 4 million? Only hispanics? Or are you comfortable with having millions of middle east muslims in the United States rapidly with little time for assimilation?

    I have not problem with immigrants…. Immigrants are great… But rewarding illegal immigration and this super-high immigration rate that is drastically changing our demographics…. is CRAZY!

  7. While I have stated my opposition to the U.S. and the West just throwing open the borders to massive immigration, I totally agree with this sentiment found in the comment section

    We are all children of God. We have all suffered. We must reach out to those in need of help.

  8. Over time I have come to see that this subject cannot be seen in absolutes but is filled with all kinds of caveats and nuances.

    In theory, people should be free to move around at will. I also think that God does not see borders. I also believe that movement of people is part of the Gospel plan. I also believe that immigration is a net positive for a country and the countries that have little immigration also have intractable economic problems.

    But at the same time, it is true that the Church has told people to build Zion in their own lands. And it is also true that immigration is not compatible with a welfare state. And it is not realistic nor prudent for the U.S. to, for example, open the doors to all refugees who want to come.

    A bit of charity for people with different views on the subject of immigration is in order.

  9. Open borders for Europe and the US is cultural and economic suicide.

    Then again, the Lord may have decided that it is time for the US culture and economy to die. As I suggested last November,

    I think the real situation is much more grim: The Church has decided that, after over a century of trying to make its members into “good Americans”, modern American culture has no unique quality that is particularly worth preserving. The day of the Gentiles, it would appear, is past; and the Church is willing to see what remains of America’s cultural cohesion gradually whittled away if it means an influx of immigrants who are more receptive to the “Zion culture” that we are under scriptural mandate to establish.

  10. I don’t think anyone is requiring people to immigrate. However, immigration, especially for refugees, is forced upon some people. For others, they seek a better life for their children.
    No one is saying “open borders” on this. The Church does not have a problem with some regulation on immigration. That said, they are concerned with the broken system we have, which keeps a lot of good, hard working people out, or forced to live illegally here.
    No one should be “fining’ churches for helping immigrants. That is an insane idea. Instead, We need to offer less government assistance to immigrants, and encourage them to come to work better. We need to integrate them into society, as we have with Italians, Dutch, Irish, Germans, and many others over the last 200 years. Our immigrant ancestors did not receive a bevy of government handouts, and we should not have to give it to newcomers (with perhaps the exception of refugees). Let them build their fortune as have others.
    One possibility is to do as the Nephites did for the Ammonites, giving them the land of Jershon. Bring in refugees and immigrants, and give them land to start over on. There is a lot of wasted federal land that could be used to build new towns and farms.
    Two of the biggest economic threats to the United States right now is the coming bankruptcy of major programs (Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare) and a shrinking work force (due to retirement). Immigration could solve both of those problems.
    We do not need to have open borders. However, we can take a bigger picture look at immigration in conjunction with problems of being a nation in decline, and perhaps use it as a tool to bless newcomers, as well as freshen the American dynamics of freedom and hard work to save our nation.

    Finally, using a selfish attitude (I was here first), or an attitude of fear (terrorism, etc) reduces us as a nation. The Church’s stance is a healthy one, and the way our nation will be re-energized and renewed.

  11. JimD,

    I’m glad you think God prefer Somalian, Guatemalan, and Yemeni society to the U..S I never seen such ridiculous statement in my life. It seems like God only wants to get rid of Western society…. You know that society that supposedly was divinely inspired to bring forth the restoration.

  12. Geoff B.

    You have a rational approach to this issue. I disagree that borders are practically meaningless. Unless, you want to get rid of all country borders, not just the U.S. I don’t understand why Western culture has to fall on its sword…. What will it accomplish in the long run? Will a broke and weak U.S. be good for religious freedom worldwide? peace? As you stated, it is impractical for the U.S. and the West to be a shelter for the world poor. The U.S. and the West has the responsibility to help lift the people up in those countries. If not, we are just putting a band aid on a situation that will leave both the West and the rest of the world weaker

  13. A mind-blowing 75 percent of Hispanics tell Pew they want bigger government with more services. Contrast that with just 41 percent of the American public that says it wants bigger government with more services. (Some 45 percent of the general American population wants smaller government with fewer services. For Hispanics, it’s 19 percent.)

    This Hispanic love affair with big government isn’t a short-term result of the Great Recession. It isn’t a temporary product of the first-generation poverty; immigrants, legal or otherwise, have always struggled through in America. This affection for big government is uniquely cultural for Hispanics, and so strongly embedded that it apparently persists for generations.

    Some 81 percent of first-generation Hispanic immigrants tell Pew pollsters they prefer big government. In the second generation, it’s 72 percent. By the third generation, the number is just shy of 60 percent. Contrast that, again, with the mere 41 percent of the general American population that feels the same.

    Part of this probably comes from the fact that most Hispanic immigrants, legal and illegal, come from countries with deeply socialist and often quasi-dictatorial governments. This is what they are used to, except that here, the government benefits are much more generous, providing a standard of living that far exceeds that of their countries of origin in most cases.

  14. With world events being the way they are, I wouldn’t be surprised to see many more refugees from all corners of the world in the coming years.

  15. Charles and others,
    Some of you are hijacking the thread. Please stop. This is not about politics or Pew studies. It is about the Church’s view on immigration and refugees .

    I will start deleting posts that stray from the op.

  16. (Hope this isn’t too much of a threadjack, Rame; if so, feel free to delete.)

    I think, Charles, that you get the causality backwards. It’s not that people of a particular political bent or nationality, tend to make good Mormons. It’s that over time, Mormons become so infused with the values of hard work, self-sufficiency, civic virtue, and voluntary mutual assistance; that they seem to fit very comfortably into a particular ideological camp.

    Find people who are willing to hear and live the Gospel; and the political/civic issues will resolve themselves.

  17. If Hispanics are indeed a remnant of the house of Jacob, and I believe they are, the church is wise to make nice with them in preparation for certain BoM prophecies. Namely, those where the Lamanites/house of Jacob tear through the Gentiles, basically North America, like lions, treading down, and tearing in pieces.

    And….., isn’t this at least starting to happen?

    3 Nephi 20:16
    16 Then shall ye, who are a remnant of the house of Jacob, go forth among them; and ye shall be in the midst of them who shall be many; and ye shall be among them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goeth through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.

    3 Nephi 21:12
    12 And my people who are a remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles, yea, in the midst of them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he go through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.

    Mormon 5:24
    24 Therefore, repent ye, and humble yourselves before him, lest he shall come out in justice against you—lest a remnant of the seed of Jacob shall go forth among you as a lion, and tear you in pieces, and there is none to deliver.

  18. To put it more bluntly for those who don’t see the parallel….

    JimD has a point. The Lord might be using Hispanics to scourge _us_ (North Americans/gentiles as a whole, not Mormons in particulsr) as He used ancient Lamanites to scourge the Nephites and stir them up to remembrance.

    And, the beauty/awesomeness of it is that the Hispanics are the descendents (though with a lot of admixture, likely ancient asians, and definitly modern Spanish) of those ancient Lamanites.

    And DOUBLY awesome is that the Book of Mormon PREDICTS it!

    For my first few times reading through the BoM, I kept thinking “Why didn’t the Lord just let Laman and Lemuel go back? Why did He essentially force them to go along? All they did was cause trouble, and their descendents were mostly the bad guys.”

    But the Lord _needed_ the Lamanites to keep the Nephites in line, to “stir them up unto remembrance”. And likewise, the Lord _needs_ the Lamanites, who are “the/a remnant of the House of Jacob”, to fulfill a mission today, which He foretold to the people in the Book of Mormon.

  19. LG: when you sarcasticly use ridiculous extremes in an argument, you’re admitting you don’t have a point.

  20. Charles
    I don’t know that we’re obligated to have open arms for people that want to kill us.

  21. LG, you are being warned. You are making straw man arguments. Do not set up a false point to teardown.

    Genhy, No one is saying we should let terrorists in. We are talking about immigrants. This does not mean we make them entitled to welfare. We use church concepts to teach self reliance, integrate them into society, and toss out those who refuse to become part of the program.

    Know your religion, people.

  22. It was awesome to hear about a refugee in General Conference today. Pres Uchtdorf was a refugee from WW2. Even in his time, there were many who were against helping and receiving refugees.

    I hope our love for God’s children can overcome our fear of terrorism. Not saying we should have open borders, but that we can have compassion. Imagine if the person we turn away today could have been a future Prophet, Seer and Revelator.

  23. Elder Kearon’s talk in General Conference on refugees was awesome.

    “This moment doesn’t define them (refugees), but our response will help define us.”

    So powerful a testimony that President Uchtdorf was overcome with emotion and tears when he stood at the podium moments afterward.

    It is time for us to consider what God’s servants are telling us.

  24. It would be a shame if bringing these people in this Country (Trojan Horse) with the Church’s encouragement led to a Brussels, San Bernandino, Paris, Texas, etc.event. Then the American people would start blaming the Church for encouraging these people to assimilate here and lead to animosity against the Church. These people are Muslims they are not Christians and don’t want to be Christians. They want to convert us to their way. They are cutting Christians heads off. What are we intending to do?Set up a prayer room in our Wards so they can exercise their religion?

  25. Nancy,

    First, we are all God’s children first, Christian/Muslim/Jew second.

    Second, I live just down the road from the largest Islamic mosque center (ISNA) in North America. The Muslims I know are good people. While not interested in being Christian, they are interested in being good Americans.

    Third, there have been more Mormons killed, raped, tortured, and forced from their homes by Christians than by Muslims. Just look at what Christians did to our ancestors in Missouri and Nauvoo. So, we shouldn’t put a label on one group, pretending another group is without blemish.

    Yes, there are some radical Islamists beheading people in the areas where they have power and control. That is why we should increase our attacks on ISIS and hopefully destroy them. I hate war, but know it is necessary. In this instance, we may have to be tougher against them, as the Russians now are, in order to protect Christians, Kurds, and peaceful Muslims in those areas. But preventing the refugees from coming here is not the solution. In fact, that prevents those Christians from escaping the beheadings and torture.

    Finally, there is always a danger. We can bring refugees in and lovingly integrate them into our society, and will have some problems. Or we can not bring them in, and American Christians already here will continue to join gangs, sell drugs, kill and rape.

    Since 9/11, fewer than 50 Americans have been killed by terrorists here in the USA. About the same number of Americans were killed in the same period by far right wing radicals (many were Christians) http://securitydata.newamerica.net/extremists/deadly-attacks.html

    You are more likely to be killed by a shark or struck by lightning than to be killed by a terrorist from either Islam or the radical right/left in America. Do you swim in the ocean or go outside to watch thunderstorms? If you are so afraid, then why? 25,000 Americans die in car crashes every year. Do you still drive, when there is so much carnage and risk, especially compared to the few terrorist caused deaths?

    We cannot allow our fears, real or hyper-inflated, to control our decisions. Otherwise, Columbus would never have crossed the ocean to find America. The pioneers would not have crossed the Plains. Joseph Smith would not have started a new religion, and no one in their right mind would have joined such a Church. Man would never have landed on the moon.

    We especially cannot allow our fears to keep us from doing what is right. Christ risked his mortal life to preach the gospel and bring salvation to us. Early Christians embraced martyrdom to share the gospel. Mormons risked everything to immigrate to the Great Salt Lake from all over the world.

  26. We need to be taking better care of our own first and foremost not only inactives but actives (home teaching and visiting teaching). Then the veterans and American poor before we start bringing others here. The Church encourages us to not go into debt. We are 19 trillion dollars in debt in this Country a good percentage on entitlements. Why then do we want to encourage America to go further in debt for the refugees. There are many in our own Country that need serious help, we need to help them first.

  27. Our own? All are God’s children. They are all our own! Do you know what the base of the Statue of Liberty says?

    “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

    As a nation, we are not in debt because of refugees and immigrants. We are in debt because we have become a greedy and slothful nation, intent on wasting trillions of dollars on ourselves, which we expect our children to pay.

    In fact, evidence shows that due to the millions of abortions we’ve had over the last 45 years, we do not have enough people here to maintain Medicare, Social Security and other major programs. The only way we can fix this is to bring in millions of immigrants to replace those we’ve killed in infancy.

    The real solution is not to hunker down, but to return to our true Christian heritage, and invite others to join us in what should be the freest nation on earth (but isn’t right now). We can either continue on the decline, or we can arise again out of the ashes of 25 years of bad leadership. But ignoring prophecy, scripture, history of immigration, and other key factors; simply to dismiss refugees and immigrants out of fear, is only hastening our own destruction.

  28. The Church tells us if we need help, to go to our OWN family first then if they cannot help go to the Church. They don’t say go to the Middle East and let those people help u over there. They need to stay amongst their own where they are acclimated and can feel comfortable honoring their own religion. It is stressful to be dumped in another Country so different than your own. They don’t need to be here, it won’t work! We need to take care of our own first!!

  29. Nancy, please go to lds.org and watch the Women’s session of General Conference. Then go to the Sunday afternoon session and listen to Pres Uchtdorf and Elder Kearon. You will see that the Church has a new focus on helping refugees.
    Yes, we are to help our own families. However, charity means going beyond your own family and helping others in need. Refugees do not have family that can help them. We are talking about entire nations in crisis.
    When ISIS is killing Christians and Muslims, where do you go for safety? You have to go somewhere else.
    We have accepted millions of refugees over the years. Yes, it is tough on them. But it is better than remaining where they were. Vietnamese and Cambodians escaped their deadly regimes and we embraced them, giving them a new life. Cubans escaped Castro’s death squads, and we embraced them. People escaped the Soviet Union, and we embraced them. I could go on with many examples.
    You are afraid. I understand your fears. However, we cannot make decisions out of fear. The Love of Christ casts out all fear. And the Lord’s prophets are calling upon us to help refugees. Scripture teaches us to serve others. The prophets are calling us to serve beyond our families continually in missionary work, serving the poor, and now with refugees. Let us serve with faith.

  30. If immigrants come to the United States it will not make the world larger or smaller. If homes and businesses are built for these immigrants in their own homelands, the price will not be much more. Helping these people and bringing them into our homelands are two different things. You can help a homeless person without bringing him into your home. I am not convinced that God wants us to bring others to our lands that do not believe in Christ. Watch the gumball presentation. https://youtu.be/LPjzfGChGlE

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