In an effort to protect American citizens from threats both real and assumed, the United States has created the Department of Homeland Security. While I understand and respect the desire to protect citizens, as a Christian I can’t help but be at odds both with the false notion of “security” and the idolic identification of “homeland.”
In a recent test at LAX, the TSA failed to discover 75% of fake bomb devices. Clearly these results reflect poorly on the performance of the TSA. Yet more problematic is the belief that if the TSA had actually found all of the devices we might arrive at some definitive point of invincibility. In reality, security can only be evaluated in terms of more or less, for the possibility of invincibility will always be infinitely distant. (This false notion of invincibility is also the deception behind the misguided belief in national defense.) In fact, I think the millennia old writer of Ecclesiastes had it right when he wrote:
“For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again.”
Given this perspective, our national understanding of security begins to lose value. Yet for the Christian there exists a real, authentic understanding of security…God. As Christians we have no reason to fear what might or might not happen to us because our security is not based on immortality but in our faith in the redemptive work of God.
A similar issue is the nationalistic propaganda concerning “homeland,” where the absence of any physical border is easily resolved by a 700 mile long, armed and guarded, billion dollar wall. The function of this wall is to protect citizens from the threat of terror (see above) and “strengthen” the economy by limiting its access to our poorer Latin American neighbors. The latter argument directly contradicts Christian social teaching, particularly the Catholic argument for the right of every individual to have access to resources necessary to pursue individual “self perfection” (see for example John Ryan’s Economic Justice) More importantly, it attempts to supersede the Christian belief that our home is the Kingdom of God, and thus cannot be localized anywhere on Earth. The words of Jesus recorded by Matthew state:
“My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”
For Christians the American faith in “Homeland Security” is illegitimate because both our homeland and our security are based not on fear, insecurity, and aggression, but on the Christian faith as participation in the Kingdom of God.