Conflation is the act of merging two sets of ideas into one. One website explains it as “negative or careless blending of two otherwise disconnected ideas.” In recent usage it means to confuse two ideas or events as being the same thing. An example would be Kellyanne Conway and her recent statement that “two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre.” She most likely conflated the two Iraqi refugees in Bowling Green who pled guilty to terrorism in 2011 and the terrorist responsible for killing four marine recruiters in Chattanooga (which is NOT Bowling Green) in 2015. She mixed them up in her mind into one event, even though they were two separate events separated by 200 miles of geography and four years of time. That’s conflation.
I mention this because the Pope, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, was guilty yesterday of conflating the morals and guidelines of the Bible given to individual people with the morals and guidelines of the Bible given to governments and nations.
The pope stated, “In the social and civil context as well, I appeal not to create walls, but to build bridges. To not respond to evil with evil. To defeat evil with good, the offense with forgiveness. A Christian would never say ‘you will pay for that.’ Never. That is not a Christian gesture. An offense you overcome with forgiveness. To live in peace with everyone.”
Is the pope wrong? Yes and no. While it is theologically correct that Christians are called to forgive, to live in peace with others, to defeat evil with good, and to build bridges, it is NOT theologically correct to conflate Christian ideals with civic policy and procedure.
Does this mean we should not promote Judeo-Christian values in our government? Not at all. I believe we should have a government that punishes certain sins (such as murder, rape, etc), not a government that forgives offenders continually. We should make laws that encourage people to live moral lives. But we should not expect the government to operate as an individual person should. For instance, Peter asked Christ how many times he should forgive his brother, and Christ’s response indicates that forgiveness should be limitless. Should this principle then be applied by the government when someone breaks the law repeatedly? No.
And that’s why we need a wall. We need secure borders so that we can enforce the rule of law among our own people. We need to keep people out who aren’t supposed to be here. I keep hearing about “the Christian thing to do” as it relates to foreign relations, immigration, etc. People who use those words to refer to the policies of the United States government are conflating guidelines given in the Bible to individuals with guidelines given to the government in general.
The United States is not a “Christian Nation.” It is a nation that has Christian citizens. Even if every single citizen was Christian, it would still not be a “Christian Nation”, it would be a nation made up of Christians. It seems like I’m splitting hairs, but it’s an important distinction. You see, being American does not have anything to do with your status with God as a Christian or non-Christian.
The United States is being invaded right now by people who don’t belong here. I know that on the surface that sounds racist, but it’s not. As an example, let’s just look at ethnic Mexicans. I’m saying that the American citizens of Mexican descent belong here, whereas those of Mexican descent who are NOT American citizens (or have permission from the government to be here) do NOT belong here. Now, is that racist? Obviously not. Ethnicity has nothing to do with my determination regarding who belongs here and who doesn’t. I am simply interested in protecting the rights of United States citizens from those who are here illegally.
I don’t agree with Trump on everything, but I do agree that we need to secure our borders. What to do about the people who are already here illegally is a different question, but the first step is to prevent any further influx. And in that the pope is wrong: as a country we should NOT be building bridges, we SHOULD be building walls.