Privilege, Risk, and Solidarity: How Christian Feminist Ethics Speaks to the Issue of Undocumented Immigration

Grammer, Libby, Religious Studies - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Mohrmann, Margaret, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Mathewes, Charles, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia

Privilege, Risk, and Solidarity: How Christian Feminist Ethics Speaks to the Issue of Undocumented Immigration
(Under the direction of Margaret E. Mohrmann)

For U.S. citizen Christians who take seriously the claims in scripture to love the stranger and practice hospitality, the reality of over 11 million undocumented persons living within our borders on the farthest margins of society, with no access to social resources and without a voice to defend themselves, creates a very real theological and ethical problem to overcome. This complex and often divisive political issue has been considered from a wide array of Christian ethical philosophies. This thesis provides a specifically Christian feminist ethical point of view on the issue and outlines various ways to understand the issue of marginalization and to combat it.

While feminist theology is not the only effective approach this issue, it does offer specific perspectives that help Christians where other theologies may fall short. This literature provides valuable insight for Christians trying to understand how to approach the issue of undocumented immigration. It reveals the worth of the marginalized and listens to them, and it indicates to the privileged their shortcomings and aids them in finding new ways to interact with the marginalized that improve everyone's lots (and souls). Feminist theology and ethics supports the cause of immigration reform through its emphases on giving voice to the marginalized, recognizing the autonomy of the marginalized, and teaching the privileged how to stand in solidarity with the marginalized.

Undocumented immigration is a lived reality, one which requires both theory and practice to end suffering, draw out the marginalized, and take risks to make major changes in an oppressive system of injustice. While feminism began and continues to deal specifically with the plight of women in various contexts, the whole of the feminist scholarly endeavor need not be applied only to one subset of marginalized people. As set forth in this work, the work of feminist scholarship in religious theology and ethics (along with some secular work) speaks volumes to issues of great importance for our daily lives, whether we are privileged White U.S. citizens or the most oppressed and marginalized undocumented immigrant. Building bridges through information, story, liberty, giving voice, flourishing, solidarity, and risk in their many forms will create a more just society in which all persons, of any color or immigration status, are given space to live with equal regard.

MA (Master of Arts)
Undocumented, capabilities approach, womanist, black feminist, Immigration, Theology, social ethics, hospitality, Feminist, Feminism, privilege, solidarity, mujerista, marginalized, Christian
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