No, San Francisco, the Bible’s “Cities of Refuge” were not “Sanctuary Cities”

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Published on: July 8, 2015

The cold-blooded killing of Kathryn Steinle by illegal alien criminal Francisco Sanchez is the talk of the nation. When he committed his latest crime, he had been deported five times and his rap sheet already included seven felony convictions in four different states. Now, you can add a murder charge to the list.

Sanchez broke our immigration law at least six times: when he trespassed on sovereign U.S. soil the first time, and then every time of the five times he crossed back over after having been sent home.

And every time he returned to San Francisco because of its now-notorious reputation as a “sanctuary city.” San Francisco has made it a matter of ignominious but prideful policy to shelter known lawbreakers in its midst by refusing to cooperate with immigration authorities to remove undesirables from the country.

This directly flouts the Constitution, for the Constitution prescribes to Congress, and Congress alone, the authority to set immigration policy for the nation.

Despite immigration authorities putting a detainer on Sanchez, which asked San Francisco to hold him until federal agents could pick him up and deport him, San Francisco let him loose to walk the streets and shoot an innocent American to death in broad daylight, where she died in the arms of her father.

Some misguided evangelicals support the concept of sanctuary cities, and cite ancient Israel’s “cities of refuge” as a paradigm. But a sanctuary city and a city of refuge are two entirely different things.

A “city of refuge” in ancient Israel (Numbers 35:11-34) was a city to which a man could flee if he was responsible for the death of another human being. The death could have been accidental – an ax head flying off an ax handle, for instance – or could have been a case of premeditated murderer.

Either way, a man was allowed to take refuge in one of these six select cities until he could stand trial. If he was found innocent at trial, he could live without fear in the city of refuge until the death of the high priest, at which point he was free to return home. If he was tried and found guilty of murder, the city would instantly cease to be a place of refuge. He’d be dragged out of town and stoned to death.

So, a biblical city of refuge was a place for the accused to await trial. It was a place for the accused to find refuge from vigilantes, not a place for the guilty to find refuge from justice. It was not a place for the guilty to hide. It was not a place for lawbreakers to escape justice altogether.

But sanctuary cities are exactly that. They are cities that give refuge and shelter to known lawbreakers like Mr. Sanchez. They reward lawbreakers instead of punishing them and thus they pervert justice and the rule of law, concepts which are foundational to American public policy.

Sanctuary cities are defended by proponents as models of compassion. But it is legitimate to ask, where is the compassion in all this for Kathryn Steinle’s family, friends and loved ones? To them, this sanctuary city has become the ultimate expression of cruelty and barbarism.

In San Francisco, the guilty are allowed to walk free and the innocent required to pay the ultimate penalty for this misbegotten approach to immigration. This is profoundly contrary to Scripture, which insists that the guilty be punished, and contrary to every concept of Western jurisprudence.

Fortunately, San Francisco has exposed the ugly reality of sanctuary cities for all to see. The city has no defenders anywhere, even among fellow Democrats.

Sanctuary cities like San Francisco are uncaring, unbiblical, un-Christian, unconstitutional, illegal, and un-American. It’s time that they be scrapped once and for all.

(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)

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