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SGA forum stresses personhood of immigrants

Written by Sarah Dougan and Sara Williams

The Student Government Association’s panel on immigration issues Wednesday, Dec. 3 encouraged system reform and action from the church, with panelists emphasizing the personhood of immigrants.

“Immigration is an issue, but immigrants are people,” said panelist Dr. David Drury, who is the Chief of Staff to Dr. Jo Anne Lyon in the General Superintendent’s Office of the Wesleyan Church.

Later on in the forum, Drury added, “I don’t know a lot of people who know people who are undocumented and do not have compassion for their situation.”

Dr. Brian Fry, a panelist from the Sociology department, also said change must be made because people are coming, and will continue to come “so long as you have economic disparity between the United States and Mexico.”

The average wage for a worker goes from $6 to $8 when workers move from Mexico to the US, according to Dr. Tom Lehman, an economics professor here at IWU who also served on the panel.

Fry went on to say, “As someone builds a 10-foot wall, people build a 11-foot ladder.”

According to Dr. Tom Lehman, 10 percent, (around 30 million people), living in the U.S. are foreign-born. Of these foreign-born U.S. residents, 10 million are undocumented, and of these undocumented individuals, 5.6 million are Mexican.

Panelists also brought up how immigration is not only a problem in the U.S. but also in other countries, including Mexico. In Mexico, as many people are leaving as are coming in from other South American countries, according to Drury.

Both Fry and Lehman said with immigration, the benefits on the economy outweigh the negatives. Lehman said most of the jobs Americans are either under or overqualified for are taken by immigrants.

Panelist Raleigh Macon (so) stated there are only 5,000 low-skill visas issued by the U.S. for the entire world per year. Lehman pointed out even though immigrants don’t pay income tax, they do still pay other ones, such as sales taxes and property taxes.

The common statement toward immigrants of “they should just wait in line along with everyone else” was also discussed by the panel members.

Fry said the waiting list for legal migration can take more than 35 years. Macon added, “This morning as we were in class” the visa applications reviewed were from 1991.

Because the waiting list for legal immigration is so long, immigrants are willing to risk more dangerous means of arriving in the US, hiring coyotes who can charge thousands of dollars to smuggle immigrants illegally, according to Macon.

She also stressed how undocumented immigration through any means, using coyotes or otherwise, is very dangerous. An estimated 1,500 to 3,000 die in the U.S. each year, though the exact number is not known, since many bodies are lost or unidentifiable.

Though many panelists agreed the system is broken — or “antiquated and outdated” according to Liz Dong, Assistant Field Director at Immigration Table for World Relief — there were some disagreements as to what these changes should be, specifically concerning how tightly the border should be secured.

Fry said he believes in a regulated border, but a better, more organized and open system. He thinks this is better for everyone, including immigrants.

In response, Lehman said “I want the borders as open as possible. I want to go back to the Ellis Island days,” citing Emma Lazarus’ poem “The New Colossus,” which describes the U.S. as not only for the “best” immigrants, but also a beacon of hope to the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

The panel members also discussed the religious implications of immigration within the church.

Dong said over 80 percent of immigrants are believers and “brothers in Christ.” Macon said, from personal experience, most of the undocumented immigrants she knows are driven by 1Timothy 5:8, which says: “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (NIV)

Fry said 40 percent of immigration is in some way family driven.

According to Macon, only around 1 in 10 people in protestant churches are making an effort to reach out to the immigrant population. She went on to say she believes reaching out immigrants is part of the Great Commission. She said the church was sent to the nations, but now the nations have come to the American church.

During the talkback portion of the panel, students asked ways in which individuals and the church can become involved in the issue of immigration.

Dong called for unification in the church about helping immigrants by saying, “If our laws are causing people to live in shadows … we should care about that.”

Dr. Drury mentioned the Wesley Seminary is hosting a class in May 2015 aimed at the issue of immigration and how the church can become an advocate for change.


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“Mockingjay – Part 1″ movie leaves audience hungry for more

Going into the theater last night, I had some doubts about “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1,” mainly because I felt that it wasn’t necessary for the movie to be broken up into two parts. Most readers of the books feel the third installment of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games is the most boring one, and I feel that way as well.

My thoughts definitely changed as I watched the movie.

Director Francis Lawrence added a few more details and scenes to the movie, which I think helped the story. I am glad he made it into two parts, because the previous two movies took too many important details out.

It starts out with Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), now having survived two Hunger Games, underground where District 13 is, confused and in recovery from the Quarter Quell. She is learning that District 12 is destroyed, and her best friend, Gale (Liam Hemsworth), rescued as many people as he could, including her sister, Prim (Willow Shields), and mother (Paula Malcomson).

I enjoyed how “Mockingjay – Part 1” emphasized the relationship between Katniss and Prim and Katniss and Gale more than the previous films. It showed more of how Katniss is always looking after her little sister, Prim, who she volunteered to replace in the first Hunger Games.

Before seeing this third movie, I was always “Team Peeta” and did not want Katniss to end up with Gale. But these two characters change dramatically in “Mockingjay,” as Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), thinks differently about Katniss and District 13’s revolt against the Capitol.

In the first two films, Gale had very little screen time, so I hadn’t formed much of an opinion about him. But in this movie, he’s always protecting Katniss and her family, comforting Katniss as she is recovering and showing his real feelings and emotions for her that will make you want to become “Team Gale” — and as always, he looks good doing it.

Throughout this dark and intense movie, two characters provide some comic relief: Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), Peeta and Katniss’ mentor, who is now sober for the first time, and Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), their escort, who is trying to transition from Capitol life to living underground in District 13 without her makeup, wigs and elaborate costumes. This is a major change from the book as she is only in it for a short time.

Lawrence portrayed Katniss perfectly in this movie, and I think she has improved with playing this character since the first film. She looked terrible and even a little bit scary — but it was great for the movie. You can see her pain and understand how messed up these Games have made her.

If you are planning to see “Mockingjay – Part 1” this weekend, I would recommend re-reading or re-watching the end of “Catching Fire” so you remember exactly what is happening because there is not a refresher in the beginning of the movie.

Also, if you are an avid reader of these books like myself, keep in mind it will not completely match up to the book, so you will also be surprised by some of the scenes.

Lastly, be prepared to have your knees to your chest with a nervous feeling in your stomach the entire movie as Katniss and District 13 attempt to bring down the Capitol and save their loved ones — or maybe that was just me.

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Editorial: What are the ethics behind swiping and leaving chapel?

The new chapel swipe system has been a topic of conversation since the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year, begging the question: is it okay for students to swipe and leave?

This question has been argued from both sides. Indiana Wesleyan University has had chapel as a requirement since its founding, more recently with the option to use up to six chapel skips a semester.

This is the first year the integrity of students has been in question in regards to chapel.


Students face a decision every time they swipe into chapel.

Chapel, which is held at 10:05 a.m., allows students to swipe their ID for chapel credit from 9:45 to 10:15. Over three different chapel days, I stood between two doors and counted how many people swiped their ID and left between 9:50 and 10:05. Over the three observed days, an average of approximately 187 people swiped and left each day. Keep in mind, this number only includes a percentage of the students that left chapel because only two doors were involved in the observation.

So how does The Office of the Dean of the Chapel feel about the number of students choosing not to stay for the chapel services?

“We decided to go with the one-swipe [system] because we wanted to show that we trusted our students,” Dean of Chapel Jim Lo says. “We went to the administration and then on to the cabinet and I presented that I believe that most of our students really are trustworthy individuals, so we wanted to give them more freedom.”

The major point Lo is trying to make is that the one-swipe system was not put in place because it was easier, faster or cheaper. While all of these things might be true, the one-swipe system was put in place to grant the students more responsibility, trust and freedom. I think that, as a student body, we are so focused on the thrill of getting away with something, that we have chosen to throw away the newfound trust and responsibility we have been entrusted with by the university.

The argument on one side is that swiping and leaving is a lie. You are not correctly representing Christ because you are allowing someone to believe something that is not true.

“We are a Christ-centered university, therefore we should strive to be more like Christ.” Timothy Loney (fr) said. “By intentionally deciding to not be at chapel, and yet swiping into chapel, you are not living up to the call of this university and more importantly, the call of Christ.”

The counter argument is, “What if I have homework? Or a big test? Can’t I praise God through excellence in my school work?” This is a valid argument, but we must remember to be respectful of the speakers who have given up their time to come share God’s word, as well as the students who want to hear it.

“This is an integrity issue, I have spoken to guest speakers, the thing that distracts many of them is when they see the students getting up and walking out,” Lo said. “It’s been very painful for them to see that because a message is already being given.”

While swiping and leaving can be viewed as an integrity issue, we must remember that we are still one body in Christ, even though attending chapel is now a personal decision, that does not give us the right to judge those who chose not to attend.

“Those who choose to stay for chapel shouldn’t look down on those who choose not to go. Just because we have chosen not to go does not mean that we are less of a Christian than they are,” Hannah Guerin (so) says. “Those who look down on others for doing what only they think is wrong might be the ones who need to be at chapel the most.”

While the actual percentage of students leaving chapel services is relatively low, it is important to keep the issue of integrity at the forefront of our minds. Skipping chapel might give us a “thrill”, but while we are missing out on chapel, we just might be missing out on God.

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Letter to the Editors: Fiebig responds to social media reaction about his pro-choice and pro-life views

Written by Dr. Greg Fiebig

I accepted the invitation to participate in the SGA Forum on Life Versus Choice because I thought it might be a way to negotiate some middle ground between the seemingly divergent views on life and choice.

As I explained during the forum, when it comes to the issue at hand, pro-life versus pro-choice, I am conflicted. I hold two seemingly divergent views, also known as Cognitive Dissonance. I am equally pro-life and pro-choice. My pro-choice perspective comes from my understanding of the Fall of Man in the Book of Genesis:

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

While God certainly indicated (commanded) that Adam and Eve were not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, he allowed them the freedom of choice to do so. To be sure, there were consequences. There are consequences to each and every choice we make. A person who chooses an abortion must live with the consequences. A person who chooses adoption must live with the consequences. A person who chooses to have the baby must live with those consequences as well.


Dr. Greg Fiebig says he holds “two seemingly divergent views, also known as Cognitive Dissonance.” Courtesy Photo

Regardless of whether abortion is legal or illegal, moral or immoral, ethical or unethical, people still have the right to choose, just as Adam and Eve had the right to choose against God’s command in the Garden of Eden.

While I was serving on the staff of a local church in Missouri, one of the couples in our church who had recently given birth to their second child discovered that they were expecting a third, a mere 13 months later.

When they met with their doctor to confirm the pregnancy, the doctor, a devote Catholic, working at an equally Catholic hospital, in a town named Maryville (you do the math!), advised the young couple to terminate the pregnancy. He warned them that given the woman’s previous two caesarian births, one five years prior and one less than 6 months earlier, that she was at too great a risk to have another baby so soon. The distressed uterine wall would be unable to sustain the stress of pregnancy on the mother or the child. In fact, he told them that if they saw the pregnancy through to the end, either she or the baby, likely both, would die. You are no doubt aware that the Catholic position on abortion is equally as pro-life as the Wesleyan position. So you can imagine the concern this raised in the minds of the young couple.

How might you have advised the young wife? The husband? As a young woman, what would your response have been to the stark reality of facing your own death? Would you sacrifice your life for the outside chance that your unborn child might survive? As the husband, would you sacrifice the life of your wife for an unborn child that would likely not survive the birth process?

The young couple consulted with another doctor in an adjacent town whose counsel was to let him worry about the life and death issues. In fact, he said, “I’ve never lost a mother or baby in a case like this before, and I don’t intend to do so now. Let me worry about the complications.” While relieved, the couple still struggled with uncertainty. Which of these doctors was right?

I mentioned earlier that I am equally pro-life and pro-choice. My wife, Marilyn and I were that couple.

My wife and I chose to place our trust in the second doctor and in the providence of God. We have been married for over thirty years and our third child (yes, the one with the complicated birth), Jeff, and his wife gave birth to their first child, a daughter, and our granddaughter, named Quinn, nearly one year ago now.

So you see, my cognitive dissonance is strong. I believe theologically in free will while at the same time believing practically in the sanctity of life. While my wife and I chose life, I must recognize that other young couples in our situation may have chosen to terminate the pregnancy, and quite frankly, I would have understood why.

And here’s the irony: if you think I’m conflicted about this, so is the Wesleyan church. As one person pointed out on Facebook in response to the Sojourn article entitled, “SGA Forum Discusses the Definition of Life,” Wesleyans fundamentally affirm the sanctity of life. Those very same Wesleyans also fundamentally affirm a person’s right to choose. In their twenty-one “Articles of Religion,” they affirm an individual’s Personal Choice:

We believe that humanity’s creation in the image of God included ability to choose between right and wrong. You will need to scroll down the page to article number eight. I was essentially presenting that particular article of faith during the SGA Forum on Life and Choice. Perhaps, you will begin to understand my own cognitive dissonance on the matter as you begin to understand theirs.

And so, a couple of days after the forum, I am sad. I naively thought that mature Christians could have a hospitable conversation about difficult issues. In an effort to negotiate some middle ground and help to alleviate some of the polarity, I failed. I can only hope that the afterlife of the conversation, or lack thereof, might open more irenic conversations in the future.

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