June 9th, 2010
04:16 PM ET

Religious conservatives want immigration reform

A group of conservative evangelical leaders (including Rev Sam Rodriguez, seen above) broke with their political brethren Wednesday, coming to Washington to push the White House and congressional leaders to pass comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path for undocumented immigrants to attain legal status.

Political conservatives have long balked at an immigration policy that includes what they term "amnesty" for illegal immigrants, but the evangelicals see the issue differently.

"A significant part of our churches and denominations are part of the immigrant community so we have a very close connection and a very great interest," Leith Anderson, president of the influential lobbying group National Association of Evangelicals, said Wednesday, " ... but our interest is really rooted in what the bible teaches how we treat people and how we treat particularly people who are aliens or strangers in the land."

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- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Politics

soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Mary Steele

    Are we suppose to let everybody in that wants to? Massive unemployment proves we can't, and the fact that Obama admitted that "illegals go to the ER and we pay for it" also proves that the illegals here are NOT candidates for citizenship!! We MUST start with serious enforcement so legal applicants get their chance at citizenship after we see how the jobs problem is going in a year or two!. if we continue to allow illegals and too many legal new citizens, this country will be no better off than the countries they come from!

    October 5, 2010 at 6:47 pm |
  2. Rudy

    I'm sorry I meant "BLANK" statement.. its late... and small font... sorry.....

    July 15, 2010 at 5:39 am |
  3. Evelyn

    We are a country made up of immigrants, but they were LEGAL immigrants who waited their turn to come into this country the right way. Also, they learned our language and were PROUD to be Americans.

    July 14, 2010 at 11:05 pm |
    • Rudy

      This is such a black statement... the "right" way? Sure, many recently within this generation, but most Americans came to this country when there was no status of "illegal" or "legal"... just look at the history books and see the hundreds of families that traveled from Europe during the famine, plague and so on... and to make a statement that they did it the "right" way is silly at best. They traveled here from England to get away from religious oppression and persecution... they traveled here to get away from political persecution and opportunity... and there were no "right" way then.... We need real reform and not politics.. and especially not the bible to justify our policy.... the scary problem, is that you can use the bible to justify murder, hate, slavery, and oppression... sadly, you can use the bible to justify anything... and when the Congressman uses it to defend his policy, to follow the rule of the land and the governing body, that is scary, because this is the same thought that allowed "jim Crowe" and allows a governing body to enact laws that discriminate, hate, and persecute, and therefore, an unjust law according to this Congressman and the bible is just! I don't think that is the Christian way? Or is it? Because if it is, then that says a lot about being a Christian....

      July 15, 2010 at 5:39 am |
    • Mary Steele

      Even if there were no legal or illegal laws to come here back then, THERE IS NOW and for good reasons, massive unemployment and Obama admitting that "illegals go to the ER and we pay for it"!! If we keep on the way it is, our country will be no better off than the countries they come from! It's disgusting for Democrats to give the Mexican president a standing ovation when he denounced Arizona's enforcement, yet his own country strongly enforces their immigration laws!! Give them a standing boot out of office since they care more for illegals and less about the welfare of those legally here and struggling to survive!

      October 5, 2010 at 7:17 pm |
  4. Fulton

    We need to enforce the laws we have. We welcome the LEGAL immigrants. Illegal is illegal. Wrong is wrong. If you aren't in the United States legally, go home. If we catch them, we need to send them back. If I were governor of Arizona, on the day the law becomes in effect, I would instruct all the State police to stop everyone. Then there is no possible discrimination. And if they aren't legal – send them back where they came from. period. end of story. If they have married or birthed someone here, then that person has a choice, stay here without that person or go back with them.

    Stop wasting our resources on illegal people. It is not a human rights issue. it an issue of law.

    God bless America

    July 14, 2010 at 10:44 pm |
  5. Bob

    One thing I have observed is that when a politician talks about religion, it is a sign that he or she is lying.

    We have tolerated an unjust system, in which business interests - often politically well-connected - rely on the labor of people who do not have legal status because of political gridlock. For at least a generation, our political system has looked the other way on illegal immigration while disguising this corruption through arbitrary token enforcement. Thus, the cost of our political system's inability to develop and implement a just immigration regime is borne by the powerless. Where does it say that arbitrarily and capriciously scapegoating the least powerful among us is that justice, the enforcement of which the civil authority beareth not the sword in vain? If one's religion mandates compliance with every law that is enacted with procedural correctness, no matter how wrongful or unjust the law may be, then every martyr should be condemned as a lawbreaker and, accordingly, a sinner.

    July 14, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  6. Terry

    Parents who left their country and illegally entered the United States in search of a better living are illegal aliens with children. What part of illegal do these people not understand. We have one of these folks here in Wichita who has been in a local hospital for more than 400 days and has run up a bill in excess of 2 million dollars. He's not hiding in the shadows.

    June 12, 2010 at 7:06 pm |
  7. Adrian Smith

    We need a fair Immigration Reform. Can't the Federal Government see that so many people are suffering? Family being separated, Parents that left their country in search of a better living and are working Hard to support their family...and on top of that they have to be hiding in the shadows!!! This need to stop! The congress have to act! this is affecting all of us! We need something done.......and we need it NOW!

    June 10, 2010 at 1:57 pm |
  8. Joe

    They want amnesty for illegals because they are aware of the fact that the poor and uneducated of the world are more religious than the affluent and educated. More poor uneducated illegals becoming legal means more sheep and more $$$.

    June 10, 2010 at 1:48 pm |
    • paizlea

      I'm an atheist, and even I'm offended by your remark. While you may be right about some Christians, most of the ones I know are good, honest, and try to live by their faith. I believe these conservative Christian are actually trying to do what is right.

      July 14, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  9. Truth Wins

    Jesus brought light to darkness.

    If illegals are left in the darkness and light is not brought to them by the church these people will remain in darkness. Will do dark deeds and teach their children hatered which will eventually catch up with the society.

    Spread light while there is still time. Set aside your personal bias and see far into the future ... the benefits far out weigh.

    June 10, 2010 at 6:45 am |
  10. Fair

    Judge your neighbor fairly.......that says it all!
    Looking back in our family tree, most if not all of us has or had an immigrant, in which most of us are now called an American because of them! So read and learn....
    Judge your neighbor fairly! Not all people are bad, giving them a chance to make things right, may just be the chance your family member had!

    June 10, 2010 at 12:23 am |
  11. Norski

    Apparently these “Christian Activists” fail to see the difference between welcoming the legal, law abiding Stranger and welcoming the law-breaking Illegal Immigrant. Have they forgotten Christianity expects and equal dose of responsibility and accountability for every exhortation of love thy neighbor?

    Jesus never really commented on how to treat Illegal Immigrants. It was text from the Old Testament that is used to justify the "welcoming the stranger" rhetoric of those who support Illegal Immigrants breaking our law. But right next to that text is the following:

    Leviticus 19:11 – “Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not deceive one another.”
    Leviticus 19:15 – “Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.”
    Leviticus 19:17 – “Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt.”

    And in the New Testament it says in James 2:8-10 “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it."

    If their interest is really rooted in what the bible teaches why do they ignore these passages? The day that these “Religious Activists” treat these passages with equal respect to the "welcoming the stranger" passage is the day hypocrisy begins to diminish.

    June 9, 2010 at 8:53 pm |
    • jonas

      Do no hate. Only the children of satan hate

      June 10, 2010 at 4:39 am |
    • John D

      I'm not that theologically inclined, but wasn't it St. Augustine who proposed a rule of recognition to the effect that an unjust law is NOT law?

      I think the point that these religious conservatives might be making is that, fundamentally, there is no moral basis for excluding people (peaceful people, at any rate) on the basis of arbitrary and unchangeable characteristics such as the place of their birth.

      In other words, they're not discarding the Levitical mandates of obedience to the law, they're just eliminating from the category of "law," as Augustine did before them, that which they perceive to be unjust.
      You might call this antinomian; you might call it a recipe for social chaos and economic collapse. You might even be right. I'm not taking a stand.

      What I am saying is that it's not intellectually dishonest for a Christian to support "amnesty."

      June 10, 2010 at 11:09 am |
    • Edgar

      Jesus didn't care about tax collectors and sinners, did you? And, didn't he throw the first stone when a woman was caught in sin?

      July 14, 2010 at 9:38 pm |
    • Rubin Safaya

      I love it when Christian fundamentalists cite rule of law (from Leviticus no less) to justify bigotry, but then tap dance around it when confronted with laws that contradict their fundamentalist leanings... .such as separation of Church and State, particularly in the science classroom.

      @JohnD: you're talking at a wall. Recent studies show that people immersed in disinformation tend to react even more belligerently when confronted with facts that contradict their prejudiced world view. Intelligent debate is for intelligent participants.

      July 15, 2010 at 9:42 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.