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« And They Wanted Him Dead | Main | Uncle Sam calling the ’shots’ »

May 20, 2009

The Ultimate in NIMBY

We've all become familiar with the concept of NIMBY (Not In My Backyard), though it usually comes up with issues like nuclear waste, garbage dumps, power lines, or new prisons. But now for the ultimate in NIMBY: It's time to find a new home for Guantanamo Bay detainees!

Representative Frank Wolf (R-Virginia), who represents many of the Northern Virginia suburbs where some 17 detainees might be relocated, is having none of it. This is a no-brainer position for any politician who wants to be popular in his district. Few enjoy the prospect of having someone who fought U.S. troops landing literally in their backyard in tony Fairfax.

But whatever happened to "love your neighbor," some may ask. Well, it's true that Jesus preached a gospel that demanded love beyond one's immediate circle of family and friends. However, he also said that we were to "love our neighbor as ourselves." Many in Frank Wolf's Congressional District, including Christians, might well discern that self-preservation is part of Jesus's admonition.

You aren't much good to anyone else if you're hacked to pieces by someone who hates your country.  

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There's an update on the situation here:



I do enjoy many blogs here on The Point, but this is one that causes me some grief: when professing Christians, read the Bible and decide to reinterpret its meaning so that they do not have to change their lifestyle, personal preferences, or world view.

The Lord Jesus states very clearly to love your neighbor. In other places in the Bible it is clear that these "neighbors" may also be your enemies.

Paul traveled to the Gentiles (that is us!) to tell them about Jesus Christ. Many times they did not like him...even to the point of stoning him!

Jesus did NOT advocate "self-preservation"...have you ever read the last few chapters of any of the gospels?

Romans 5:8 - God demonstrates His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners (bad, evil, and wicked people), Christ died for us. (that means that he gave up His life that so that we would have a life)

jason taylor

The Bible did not say "Turn other people's cheeks". If you personally think your vocation is to minister to terrorists by living next door to them, I of course applaud your saintliness. However that hardly applies to moving them next door to other people.


Sorry, let me clarify: I think that it is acceptable (even from a Biblical perspective) to not want a terrorist to live next door. I would be a bit concerned too; I have a family to provide and care for.

My concern is when Christians choose disregard the Bible because it is unpopular or undesirable. Instead of acknowledging that living next to a terrorist is just too scary for them, they decide to rewrite/reinterpret the Bible.

Or am I just missing something?

jason taylor

Yes. The point is that government policy is different then private affairs simply because government is about making decisions for other people, which they cannot have an imput on. The government has a trust, to protect those whom it rules over. You are also confusing collective groups with individuals and demanding that saintliness be mandated by law when the law has only a right to enforce justice.

If you follow the course you suggested you may be being kind to the terrorists. But you cannot conceivably do that without at the same time being cruel to those who are affected by hypothetical future crimes that they commit. You are suggesting the equivalent of tieing people up and letting a terrorist hit their cheek.

If in fact you can demand for the entire country that they turn the other cheek, why can you not demand that they all become baptized? Or that they all love the Lord their God with all their hearts and souls and minds, and love their neighbors as themselves. And demand that this be enforced by law.

For the matter of that, if you are to demand what you suggest, then there should not be a government. The government depends on taxes which in a private person would be a violation of the command Thou Shalt Not Steal.
Moreover there is no logical reason to imprison normal criminals and not to release terrorists. The logical consequence of pacifism is to think government is itself sinful. And if that is so, why do you care what the details of that sin are? But if you consent to the existence of government you must consent that it should do it's duties.

The point Mr Reed was making was that loving our neighbor does not only include our "fellow man" in general, but our literal neighbor. Placing one's fellow citizens in danger without their consent.

An incident from Acts might be remembered. There was a plot to assasinate Paul while he was prisoner. An informant told Paul and Paul told the centurion who provided him with a heavier escort. It was never suggested that the centurion should have let Paul be killed, or that Paul should not have informed him, or that the informant should not have told Paul.

Jason Taylor

You have to remember TaylorH that "self-preservation" is in this context, at best a metaphor, at worst a (sometimes dangerous)misnomer inspired by the fact that humans have a habit of anthromorpising groups of people, which is helped by superficial similarities between groups and individuals. What it really means in this context is "preservation of others with whom I happen to share certain commonalities".

Ben W

How is living next door to a terrorist worse than living next door to a mafia boss, or a drug lord? I'd guess that the terrorists have less resources and are less of a danger.


For your consideration: there is a reverse-evangelism consequence to bringing jihadists into the nation's prison system. If caught and imprisioned, their modus operendi includes recruiting and radicalizing other inmates to their kill-the-infidel cause. I am less concerned about the terrorists themselves escaping than spreading their philosophy to inmates who will in time be released to join jihad. These guys can do a lot more damage as lifers in US prisons than they can in Gitmo. This is a prime reason to keep Gitmo--quarentine the virus.


Many good comments all around here, and it IS a worthy subject for introspection as Christians. I agree, in part, with Taylor H's point that Jesus calls us to a radical love of neighbor, including neighbors who are our enemies.

But who said that putting yourself or your family in potential harm's way is the only way to love that difficult neighbor, Taylor H? The same Christian who has a legitimate fear of living near someone who has a proven track record of killing can also write to that person in prison or engage in other works of charity towards that individual or others like him.

Jesus's life indicates that he wasn't into sacrifice for its own sake. He asked the cup to be taken from him in Gethsemane, but if that wasn't part of the Father's will, then he was willing to do it.

Certainly, we should prayerfully consider what Jesus would do, what attitude the Holy Spirit would inspire when dealing with people for whom we have legitimate or illegimate fears.

But the Lord never called us to go on a kamikaze raid. That's a crazy misuse of the life God gave us, not a purposeful sacrifice with real impact.

jason taylor

In point of fact, living next to a terrorist might be worse then living next to a drug lord as the later might have a self-interested reason to "police" his own neighborhood.

But as it is preferable not to have to live near either, that isn't really the point.


Good for this official who is acting as a protector.

They are to assume the worst when confronted with the possibility of highly suspicious persons entering the area they cover...

If, however, a detainee is verified as inoffensive---and not a danger...(by reliable persons using reliable sources) that would be different...


Also...someone above mentioned the possibility that some Gitmo prisoners may "evangelize" for extreme radical islam in US prisons.

This possibility should be taken seriously.

Maybe some prisoner, eager to turn his life around, might grab onto the structure of an organized faith which, taught by an extremist, could also include religiously endorsed violence...

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