Westmont Magazine Letter to the Editor
In the spring 2006 issue of the Westmont magazine, David Batstone ’80 explored the national and local implications of illegal immigration and commented on some of the immigration bills Congress is considering. While we applaud the dialogue taking place within the Westmont community, we think Mr. Batstone’s editorial betrays Westmont’s educational philosophy and oversimplifies the immigration debate.
We agree with Mr. Batstone that “Christian colleges exist to educate young hearts and minds for Christian service.” But in addition, we believe that Christian colleges — and Westmont in particular — are also tasked with the responsibility of equipping their students to intellectually engage and thoughtfully compete in the secular marketplace of ideas. That means we don’t see issues solely through a religious lens and offer religious justifications for our positions as indisputable trump cards.
In fact, the “Philosophy of Education” section in Westmont’s own college catalogue clearly states the institution’s mission of helping students “learn skills that translate into performing well one’s role as citizens of the state, servants of the church, members of a family, and participants in the cultural world.” Such was our experience at Westmont and we are better for it.
The debate over how to respond to swelling numbers of illegal immigrants in the United States cannot be limited solely to theological considerations or relegated to a theological discussion alone. Equally relevant are economic, security, and political considerations.
Many of the undersigned work or have worked on Capitol Hill or within the Executive Branch in Washington, D.C., and are immersed in this very debate on a daily basis. We have heard the arguments on all sides, and we can say with confidence that there is much more to the debate than Mr. Batstone suggests. Some of the more obvious questions that Christians should reflect on are: Does loving my neighbors mean giving them anything they ask for? Are governments capable of reflecting a Christian love? Should they? What might it look like for a welfare state and an open border policy to co-exist in the United States?
Further, we believe Westmont alumni can do better than to refer to individuals who do support immigration reform as suffering from “xenophobic zeal” or appealing to “national interests,” while abandoning their Christian principles. This kind of name-calling is divisive, disrespectful, and counter-productive.
At Westmont we were taught to address the secular challenges of our world with intellectual integrity and creativity. Mr. Batstone’s article did not reflect the best of Westmont’s intellectual traditions. As the debate continues we hope that more careful reflection will take place before lines are drawn in the sand.
— Jeff Hunt ’03, Nicole Schouten ’05, Garrett Fahy ’04, Ryan Vitkus ’02, David Cox ’05, Amy Lee ’05, Matt McInturf ’02, Andrew Sklar ’03, Nate Williams ’03, Lilian Lawrence ’02, Tiffany Enns ’02, Meredith Bagdazian ’05, Nicholas Schoolland ’06