November 13, 2012

Evangelical Groups: Immigration Reform “Imminent” Following Election

Officials from 10 Evangelical organizations formed the Evangelical Immigration Table earlier this year.

Officials from 10 Evangelical organizations have cited “reduced pushback” against a citizenship pathway for illegal immigrants in their appeal for a new immigration policy.

Central to the Evangelical Immigration Table’s new push was a sense that the legislative landscape had changed, even though control of the two houses of Congress and the presidency remained largely the same as before recent elections.

The group is calling upon President Obama, Senate and House leaders to act on immigration reform legislation in the first 92 days of the new administration. The number 92 was arrived at as the amount of times the Hebrew word “ger” – which conference call organizers translated as “stranger or immigrant” appears in the Bible.

Officials from the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and Sojourners addressed reporters during a Tuesday conference call.

“It appears immigration reform is imminent,” predicted NAE President Leith Anderson, who said the momentum was “delightful and somewhat unexpected.”

Sojourners President Jim Wallis identified a change “on both sides of the aisle” while Barrett Duke of the ERLC described a “new opening.”

“Following last week’s election, it is clear we need a new way forward,” asserted Gabriel Salguero of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition. Salguero touted an increasing number of Hispanic voters in the electorate and reported a “renewed sense of optimism on this issue” in pushing for the 92-day timetable.

The group outlined six points in their immigration platform, including increased border security. A legal pathway to citizenship for those who have entered or remain in the country illegally was identified as the chief goal, with the other points acknowledged as necessary conditions.

“Our ultimate goal is legal status and citizenship, but some things need to take place before legal status can be achieved,” explained Duke. “We need to address the border security issue.”  

Deigning current immigration laws as “twentieth century,” Anderson declared it was “time to catch up” and that immigration reform was a scriptural matter, not a political one.

“The Bible says a lot about how we treat newcomers to the land,” Anderson noted. “The discussion shouldn’t be ‘what should Congress do?’ but ‘What does the Bible teach?’ I am convinced that study will move the conversation forward.”

Anderson was joined in his appraisal by Wallis, who listed immigration reform as “a matter of obedience to Christ, not just a political issue.”

“Jesus tells us very clearly that how we treat the stranger is how we treat him,” Wallis continued. “We have been converted by the Bible to support immigration reform, and by our relationships with brothers and sisters, many of whom are undocumented and are sitting in the pews.”

Members of the Evangelical Immigration Table touted an “ideologically diverse” constituency, with Danny Carroll of NHCLC reporting how “groups that would be inclined to vote Republican are coming onboard with this” and “changing their view.”  The support of Christian organizations Focus on the Family and Intervarsity were also spotlighted.

Asked if the officials had received pushback from within their constituencies on immigration reform, the response varied.

“I haven’t felt a lot of pushback within the Evangelical community,” Wallis reported, with Southern Baptist Duke acknowledging “some concern, but less.”

“Yes, there has been pushback, but less,” echoed NAE’s Anderson.

While the respective chiefs of their organizations minimized internal opposition, Anderson touted the “tens of millions” the Evangelical Immigration Table claimed to represent. Organizers noted that the Southern Baptist Convention’s 16 million communicants make it the largest Protestant church in the country, while NAE counts over forty denominations as members.

“You are dealing with millions of people interested in moving immigration reform in a direction that is just,” Duke said. “We are delighted that the national conversation has moved. There is definitely an opening that is bipartisan.”

“I believe Christ is smiling upon this,” Wallis concluded. “The stranger will be welcomed”


  • Donnie

    The fact that Jim Wallis is considered “evangelical” is proof this term is meaningless.

  • cynthiacurran

    Basically, some of the leadership doesn’t care if illegal immirgants take away jobs from Americans a lot of illegals are nor just employed in farmwork or meatpacking jobs were Americans are less likely to do but low skilled manufactoring, construcation, and fastfood, do liberal and conservative leadership care about the poor in their own country.

  • Eric Lytle

    Isn’t it great to see evangelical leaders caving in to the secular culture? Wallis can pat himself on the back, he was doing it 30 years ago.

  • http://contextintn.wordpress.com/ dover1952

    C’mon boys. I was raised down south, and we have an expression called “fess up.” I would just once like you IRD people to say what you really mean and really mean what you say so someone else does not have to say it for you.

    Why not just come clean and say:

    ” I am afraid the white America established by white men like George Washington is about to be permanently overrun by millions, upon millions, upon millions of short, red-skinned, black-haired, si habla taco munchers that will destroy our superior Anglo-Saxon-bred Christian culture and make the enitre nation look like the interior of one huge Mexican restaurant from coast to coast for the next 500 years.”

    Then you say to me:

    “You mean you’re a southern-bred white man with 100 percent Anglo-Saxon genes from Scotland and England with Christian family roots that go back nearly 400 years on both sides of the family to colonial Virginia—and you ain’t worried about that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!????????????????????????????

    Then I say:

    Nope!!! That red skin and black hair that you hate so much comes from American Indian genes that are largely undiluted over the past 500 years. Their ancestors came to our shores more than 10,000 years ago. That is why they call them Native Americans. This land that you are sitting on now was rightfully theirs long before it was ever ours because they came here when the land was devoid of all other human beings except them. Their claim to this country is as great as any claim the Hebrews have to the land of Israel and probably greater because they did not have to kill anyone to take control of it and their claim is many 1000s of years older than the Israeli claim.

    So here is how it is really going to go when all of you old white people like Paige Patterson are dead and gone. The skin color of most American people will change. Your children and their children shall grow up under the thumb of multivariable racial blending, which will be the norm rather than the exception. English will still be the national language. The U.S. Consutition that we now have will still be in effect and revered. Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical churches will be dead and gone—having gradually given way to true “Christ-honoring” churches that are loving and vibrant. Conflicts between science and religion will no longer exist because all people will know for certain that Genesis 1 and a great deal of the rest of this book in the Bible is a series of very early, Christ-given parables that have nothing to do with either real history or science. Instead, they were designed to convey spiritual messages like those stated by Jesus in the New Testament. Read my lips: “We know for certain that the Earth is older than 5,000 years and that the worldwide flood of Noah never occurred.” Yours will be the last generation of white Americans to reject that truth. Life may not be better than it is now, but it will be different. The only thing that is certain in life, other than death and the higher taxes your children will pay to help “the least of these,” is CHANGE.

    Now, I know that many of you people who read and post here are older Americans who have either reached or are reaching senior citizen status. I am too. Every generation harbors the delusion that it has “built something” that will be permanent and lasting—something good that will live after them and be a permanent monument to the work they did here during their lives. As they reach their senior years, they see the world around them beginning to change, and the change looks frightening. The answer in every generation has always been to waste senoir citizen years trying to fight back against the coming wave of change and forever “maintain what is.” It will not work. It is futile. It never works. It has never worked. The world of tomorrow will be very different from the world today. It will have its own problems and concerns—many that you could not even dream of right now. Many good things and horrible things will happen. Those things have been appointed to generations that will come after us. They will find ways to manage them just as we have found ways to manage the things in life that were appointed to our generation. You have to trust that the Lord Jesus will be with them just as He has been with us and that He will see them through those future times.

  • cynthiacurran

    What you say is pretty stupid illegal immirgation is the greatest in California and Texas and I asked those that believe in legalization why they think its ok for an illegal immirgant using false id to take away a fastfood job from a teenager or someone in their early 20’s.

  • Gus Ravenwheel

    Like the so-called “conservative” religious position on war, the “conservative” religious position on immigrants is based mostly on fear and their ideas of “practical” concerns rather than what the Bible says. Which wouldn’t be so troubling if these same so-called conservatives didn’t beat people up with the Bible when they want to use it to justify their cultural biases.

    • Alex P

      It’s always “hate” or “fear” or both with us evil evangelicals, isn’t it?

      You would be amazed at how well I sleep at night, considering I’m into some heavy-duty fearing and hating. Either I have no conscience at all, or you’re just plain stinking wrong about us.

      Go read that amusing article about the decline of the National Council of Churches. See what becomes of your compassionate, tolerant, inclusive churches. It’s very funny, watching these kneejerk liberals just totally clueless about why no one wants to attend their godless churches.

  • http://www.facebook.com/james.s.robb Jim Robb

    Now they’re into numerology? 92 times = 92 days? What?? By the way, there is no fair comparison to how any people in the Bible treated illegal aliens and how this coalition is asking for illegal aliens to be treated. “Ger” means invited guests. These are legal immigrants in our context, and we already treat them great.