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July 7, 2010

Evangelicals Push Response to Arizona's Immigration Law

Evangelical leaders participated in a conference call with Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform today as the Obama administration heads into a legal battle over Arizona's immigration law.

Today's group included Richard Land, President of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Joel Hunter, pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed, and Samuel Rodriguez, president of The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

The Obama administration filed a federal lawsuit against Arizona's new immigration law that focuses on why federal immigration laws enforced by federal agencies should take precedence to laws passed by a state. Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Utah are all preparing measures similar to Arizona's law, according to The Washington Post.

Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice will file an amicus brief in support of Arizona's law.

"It's troubling that the federal government, which has repeatedly failed to secure our nation's borders, is now attempting to punish the state of Arizona for doing just that," he said in a statement.

Dan Gilgoff reported on CNN which evangelicals attended President Obama's speech last week: Land, Rodriguez, the National Association of Evangelicals' Leith Anderson, and Willow Creek pastor Bill Hybels.

After Obama's speech, Land issued a statement praising the president. “In any marriage, you have to first have an initial proposal," he said. "The President proposed this morning. It’s up to the Congress to now accept that proposal or to construct its own proposal and to bring forth a bill that will consummate the marriage."

He discussed his support for immigration reform in an interview with NPR. "If the new conservative coalition is going to be a governing coalition, it's going to have to have a significant number of Hispanics in it," he said. "That's dictated by demographics, and you don't get large numbers of Hispanics to support you when you're engaged in anti-Hispanic immigration rhetoric."

Rodriguez wrote about evangelicals' partnership with Obama on the Washington Post's On Faith site. Associated Baptist Press reports on the number of Baptists who support immigration reform.

Comments

Christianity doesn't have any business involved in political issues, presume to speak for GOD and take Biblical verses out of context to support a political agenda. Jesus said his kingdom was in Heaven and did NOT attempt to change law or demonstrate against the majority but to help prepare those for Heaven. Changing law is a political activity and religious organizations that become involved should have their tax exempt status revoked.

Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) provides for the exemption from federal income tax of organizations organized and operated exclusively for charitable or educational purposes, no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting to influence legislation.

There jokers on this planet who thinks they are God than to include Bible Thumpers on ego trips

I am sure there are those who have used the immigration issue to fan the flames of racial hatred. Yet to characterize the entire opposition against ilegal immigration as anti- Hispanic is a complete misrepresentation. Also, to assume that Hispanics will act in lockstep to force illegal immigration upon the entire country is a bit presumptuous. A good many Hispanics, those who immigrated legally, will judge the issue by their standards of right and wrong and not just on the basis of group solidarity. The nations overwhelming support for Arizona's immigration law demonstrates that opposing illegal immigration will not prevent a Conservative coalition from winning an election and governing.

Robert,
I'm afraid that I must disagree with your notion that Christianity and politics are incompatible, especially when it is rooted in the misguided notion that Christ's Kingdom is only in Heaven. The Kingdom of God was central to Jesus' ministry, but it wasn't some ethereal message only about Heaven, it was about how the Incarnation had inaugurated it here on earth (though it is not yet fully consummated). The message of Christianity is not just about how to escape to Heaven, but how to reflect God here on earth. Engaging in politics is one powerful way that we can reflect the love of God to a broken world still in need of redemption, which in turn will show people a glimpse of the Kingdom. There are many good biblical reasons for being involved in politics (love of neighbor, rendering unto Caesar, dominion over creation), participating in the Kingdom is a very good one though.

Engaging in politics is also a way of being salt and light. Just as salt preserves food and prevents decay, Christians are responsible for working to preserve goodness and righteousness in society, including the nation's political institutions, thus helping to prevent decay and corruption. The Bible speaks volumes on the requirement of doing justice, and there is no way believers can obey God's commands in this regard without some degree of political involvement. To state that Christians shouldn't try to change a nation's laws is ridiculous in light of such evils as slavery, child-sex trafficking, and the oppression of women which take place in so many parts of the world and are often condoned by political authorities.

I agree with your remarks re: religion and politics in general, John. But I think evangelicals get too vocal as evangelicals on many issues where differences "on disputable matters" needlessly divide the Christians public voice. Certainly they/we are entitled to our views as individuals. But for some issues that rile American Christians there is no or only very indirect scriptural witness. And when it comes to "speaking the truth in love", well, I think the public 'christian' voice has too often done more harm than good. And of course cable news seems to know just which Christian "leaders" have the most easily pushed buttons.

"The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God."--Levitcus 19:24

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'There is no commandment greater than these."--Mark 12:30-31

Where is the love for anyone in need that the Law required and that Jesus talked about in all of this?

The founding fathers fought against taxation without representation. The illegal immigration debate has shifted to representation without taxation. Those who wish the privileges of citizenship can gain them legally. To create a nation within our nation which does not wish to speak our language or honor our flag or history is a step toward disntegration rather than unity and liberty. If protest which led to war was good in our beginning, surely Christians should be willing to enter this debate without fear of being called bigots.

I am in favor of immigration; but it needs to be controlled and legal. All nations have borders that should be respected by all other nations. When I have been a foreigner in other countries, I conscientiously submitted to the laws and carried my identification with me or had it nearby.

I do not like the apparent direction this is heading where the President is attacking a state that seeks to enforce US Immigration Laws while ignoring communities that refused to follow these laws by establishing cities of "refuge" for illegal aliens. It seems that he wants to grant them amnesty with the result that they will vote for him en masse in return.

And Robert, Jesus said that His kingdom was not an earthly one, but He also announced that it was a present reality in this world - not simply in Heaven. Nor is there any limitation to political involvement for 501(c)3 groups except that they cannot endorse a particular party or candidate. Otherwise they are legally free to offer input as they will.

Aaron, the Old Testament does indeed contain an enormous ammount of verses commanding that aliens not be mistreated by Israel. Yet a close reading of the Old testament shows that these aliens were not granted the status of native Israelites. For instance, they were forbidden by God's law to marry an Israelite. They were also to renounce their idolatry if they were to worship God with Israelites. Here is a link to an article describing the alien's status in Israel in greater detail: http://www.crossway.org/blog/2010/06/immigrants-legal-illegal-and-the-old-testament-law/

I agree with Aaron and his point. Did not Jesus fulfill the Old Testament? The OT and NT's theme was "love your neighbor as yourself". This focal theme resonates in both testaments. Although, God commanded for the Israelites not to mix with "outsiders" at that time (OT times), Jesus opened salvation to ALL (Gentiles) which entails Christians spreading the word and joining with those of same faith. Was God not more concerned with the matters of a person's heart? We can't remain stuck in OT mentality when it benefits making a point.

I also agree with Guy. Too many Christians become vocal to the point they do more harm to the whole of the Christian voice. There has to be a line drawn where we speak as God's people and ourselves. The important thing to understand is, is God really concerned about immigration? To an extent yes so long as it supports law-and-order. However, outside of that, I think not. Nationalism is a sin.

On a loving note, why are immigrants fleeing? For a better life? To escape the violence imposed by narco-traffickers? Is it not the Christian duty to help them? We as Christians should understand that it "rains on the just and the unjust" alike. With that said, there are also evil people who will integrate their migrating with those who truly want a better life.

Let's not forget that God is greater than any issue. Judge the situation in love first.

Someone noted that Christianity and politics are mutually exclusive. However, most of us don't hesitate to ask the government to get involved in banning abortions. I am for government banned abortion. I want Roe v. Wade overturned. It seems that we evangelicals are picking and choosing where we think the national government should be involved. We need immigration reform.

Sarah, those that oppose illegal immigration DO want the Federal government involved in doing what it is responsible for, protecting our borders. The Feds. dereliction of its duties is what prompted the Arizona law. Obama's immigration agenda is about gaining votes for the Democrat party, as Bush's was to gain votes for the Republicans.

Joseph, to equate salvation for all with allowing our society to be swamped with an influx of people the country cannot absorb is simply bad scriptural interpretation. The issue of aliens and Israel in the Old Testament comes up because those who favor allowing immigrants to come here without obeying our laws cite Old Testament verses commanding Israel not to mistreat foreigners. What these people fail to realize is that the Old Testament laws recognized the differences between Israelites and foreigners and did not treat foreigners as if they were citizens of Israel. The citing of the Old Testament is for the purpose of highlighting the faulty application of verses from the Old Testament to the issue of illegal immigration by those who wish to justify allowing people to stay in our country in defiance of our laws.

I live in Arizona and am a devoted Christian.

If other states were being invaded like we are by many violent illegals and by the drug and human smuggling cartels, there would be greater understanding of the significance of securing our borders. One stretch of highway just 45 min south of Phoenix is unsafe. The Pima County sheriff has posted warning signs for travevlers of the dangers of the cartels who are armed and dangerous and coming north across the border in order access this highway that leads to Phoenix and San Diego. Phoenix is the #1 US city for home invasions, many tied to illegals from Mexico. The Homeland Security detention center south of us has 400 illegal aliens, representing not only Mexico but Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Sudan and other middle eastern countries. For years, the main freeway between Phoenix and Tucson has been a conduit for smugglers and there have even been gun battles between vehicles manned by smugglers. Phoenix' evening news often carries the story of another "drop house" raided by the police, crammed with illegals behing held hostage or awaiting transport to other states.

Some hospitals have had to close their emergency rooms because they could no longer finance the medical care of so many who could not pay, i.e., many illegal aliens.

US law provides for security of our borders and our law mirrors that law, which has not been enforced.

Many who have come from out of state to protest AZ's law have demonstrated their own ignorance about this law in their public statements.

christians should be the leaders in promoting and doing God's will and rid themselves of all compromising positions and philosophies. they should not be taking any secular side in this issue but remain firmly on God's side and show both the native and illegal immigrant the right thing to do.

We have misconstrued history to make it appear that religion has no place in politics and have even gone so far as written into recent law penalties for taking political positions in a religious environment; when
the historical fact is that the very conception of our nation took place in local congregations - and as the nation was birthed, most of the representatives were respectable members of their local congregations who had proven courage, integrity, fortitude and character.

Today, political participation consist of PACs, CORPORATIONS and UNIONS each seeking to further its own interest, often against the best interest of the American population at large, and we wonder why we as a Nation are in the mess we are in. Each time an election comes around, we have the choice to vote for one collective interest of a group versus another. Frankly, we should spare Americans the deception that we are voting for a man/woman to lead us, when all we are really voting for is a party.

Its time the Judeo-Christian members of the United States speak up, appoint representatives of good moral character to become a voice for the better good of our society. I’m thrilled to see that a coalition of Christians have joined together to speak up on the church’s position on Immigration.

Our constitution never intended to leave religion out of politics, but rather politics out of religion.