(photo credit: liberty.edu)
The 45th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative service had its first Latino keynote speaker this past Monday, Reverend Samuel Rodríguez. He is the President of The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and a nationally renowned speaker and author in the Evangelical Hispanic community.
In his speech, he said an uncompromised and orthodox faith was necessary to live out Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream. “The only agenda that will save America is not the agenda of the donkey or the elephant. This nation will be saved by the agenda of the Lamb.” He insists that it is Christ and the freedom given by living in Him that will make Dr. King’s dream possible and that“our freedom does not stem from the political preferences of ideologues in Washington, D.C.”
He insists the churches cannot be silent in their witness, and that churches cannot pick and choose between issues like religious persecution, abortion, human trafficking, and immigration. He denies that Republicans or Democrats have a monopoly on justice, he says. Instead, “Justice is a prophetic term that must be lived out” as Christians.
In an otherwise refreshing speech about seeking the Kingdom first, he makes one misstep. When speaking about immigration he said, “Anyone made in the image of God cannot be called illegal.” Immigration reform is essential and deportation is simply an impractical solution. However, the status of whether one is the citizen of a nation and being a creature made in the likeness of God are simply two different issues. Polities are not violating anyone’s right by enforcing laws about the necessary procedures for living in their community. Christians are obliged to treat all human beings with dignity and respect, but it is not cruel or inhuman to say when visitors are allowed in one’s home and when they are not. Reverend Rodríguez is correct that a Christian perspective, abounding in mercy, is essential in the public square as immigration reform is discussed. However, being made in the image of God does not mean one is not obligated to a political body’s standards for citizenship.