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July 1st, 2010
01:21 PM ET

Cheat sheet: Obama's evangelical cabinet on immigration reform

The White House invited four of the country’s top evangelical pastors to attend President Obama’s speech this morning calling for immigration reform. The move is a testament both to the importance the issue has come to assume in the evangelical world–including among leaders who have battled Democrats on social issues like abortion and gay marriage–and to the White House’s eagerness to enlist evangelicals to help to counter conservative opposition to the idea of a path to citizenship for illegal immigrations already in the U.S.

Here’s a cheat sheet on evangelical bigwigs the White House was expecting at this morning’s event:

1. The Rev. Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals. The NAE is the nation’s largest evangelical group and has long sought to be a moderate evangelical alternative to the Christian Right. After sitting out the 2007 fight over immigration reform, the group passed a unanimous resolution last year supporting comprehensive reform.

2. Dr. Richard Land, President, Southern Baptist Convention Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Land is the public policy chief for the country’s largest evangelical denomination, a perch he has used to bash the Obama administration on multiple fronts, including health care reform. But he sees comprehensive immigration reform as a biblical mandate—and worries that conservatives will burn bridges with the country’s fast-growing Hispanic bloc if they take a hard anti-immigrant line. "Hispanics are hard-wired to be like us on sanctity of life, marriage and issues of faith," Land told CNN recently, describing political similarities between Hispanics and white Southern Baptists. "I'm concerned about being perceived as being unwelcoming to them."

3. The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Council. Rodriguez leads the country’s largest Hispanic evangelical group and has credibility with Christian Right leaders because of his anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage advocacy. He has recently partnered with the dean of Liberty University Law School, Mat Staver, in a bid to convince conservative Christian groups like Focus on the Family to get behind comprehensive immigration reform.

4. Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor of the 12,000-plus member Willow Creek Community Church located in Northwest-suburban Chicago, Illinois, one of the country’s largest congregations. A prominent evangelical moderate, Hybels was a spiritual advisor to President Bill Clinton.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Politics

soundoff (184 Responses)
  1. maximas

    thank you all who are with me in true side we will be win this battle please keep in line,and be the best gladiator we will past this battle joint to me with emigration reform, we will win to diabolic. god is my king, lets do it,

    July 6, 2010 at 12:02 pm |
  2. maximas

    well republicas, dont move of economy those make you sick with immigratoin is true or falso those are protecting their own interest only . the economy .need help, we need keep working and punish punish all who are diabolic remember I need heroes who keep it on the true, lets go win to republicas joint to maximas in this emperio,if you angry you are in the other side and be prepared because god is powerful I discuss this because you ask.

    July 6, 2010 at 10:49 am |
  3. peace2all

    And why exactly are we inviting religious evangelicals to discuss 'illegal' immigration reform. This is definitely a blurring of the lines of Church/State issues when we are getting feedback from not only religious folk but 'only' a certain kind of religious folk.

    Which the President shouldn't be discussing political decisions with religious zealots....

    Bad move Mr. President....

    July 6, 2010 at 3:38 am |
  4. ken

    This country was blessed by the Christian/ Judeo principles it was founded upon. No other nation has been blessed. This was based on Old testament scriptures. All other "religions" reject the concept that Jesus is God- thus not recognizing salvation and redemption is ONLY through Christ and no other. All other beliefs have man trying to earn favor with God when , in Christianity, one receives the gift, through faith, in Jesus.

    July 5, 2010 at 6:01 pm |
    • thunder1road

      Why do Christians tell lies?? This nation was not founded on Christian principals. It was intentionally designed with separation of Church and State. The founding fathers were well aware of the evils of governments in Europe that were run by Church and State working together to oppress the people. Most of the early immigrants to the US came here to escape religious persecution. And I think Jesus has better things to do than send me free gifts.

      July 5, 2010 at 11:25 pm |
  5. Abd al-Latif

    Now what about the Muslim cabinet? How about the Catholic one, or Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, etc.? Why only Protestant Christian evangelicals? Is this, as this very group claims, a "Christian nation," and if not (as all the historical evidence proves beyond any reasonable doubt), then why does Obama not care about other religions and our points of view??

    July 5, 2010 at 4:53 pm |
    • nwatcher

      secretly he does care – the evangelical thing is all for show.

      July 8, 2010 at 11:42 am |
  6. ken

    The Bible is clear about obeying the govt. and the law(s) of the nation one lives under. Romans 1-5 are clear on these. The doctrine of submission to authority is avery basic Bible doctrine. 1) submission to God 2) submission to authority and govt. (Romans 1-7) 3) submission to the church 4) children to parents 5) slaves to masters, which today is similar to employees to employers. The Apostle Paul gave two reasons for being subject to civil govt. 1) the govt. has the power to punish us if we aren't 2) Since God ordained govts, we must submit to it or have our consciences condemn us for violating the instruction of God. here lies the problem with many. people don't realize the they have violated God's Word when they break the laws. In verse six, Paul mentions about the duty of paying taxes. Even Jesus was okay with this. He een paid them! Thus, He showed obedience in this manner – to the govt. Thus, the obedience and submission to govt and our submission to God are intertwined. Last, continually expecting the govt. to give you everything you need is NOT sound Christian principle. That is socialism- which fights everything that God and His Word stands for.

    July 5, 2010 at 4:42 pm |
    • cnnlsf

      you got it all twisted/skewed in your favor...do you really think God is more interested in people following your government law than following His Basic law?Love God, Love your Neighbor as Thyself(if you dont love your neighbor and say you love God your a Liar)This is precisely the message of the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ . He came to save the lost, both Jew(highly religious,theocratic, theoretically law-abiding, self-righteous,well-educated intellectuals, philosophers,etc)and Gentile(pagans, idol worshipers, the bad people, etc opposite of jews,get the picture?)If you read attentively to what Paul is saying he consistently writes about being at the "center"/aligning your heart with God. Remember Christ was condemned to death because the govt says he violated their laws! so is true w/ practically all His apostles and disciples. It is only by Grace and Faith and by His mercy that we are saved, not by the works you mentioned.

      July 12, 2010 at 2:54 am |
  7. Guster

    Niraj

    Your anaolgy is interesting, although I myself have some trusted friends that I would not doubt for a second the house was real. I would hate to live in a world where I couln't trust my closest friends.
    Here is one for you. If I brought over a lead container with highly raidioactive material inside shaped like toys would you be willing to let your kids play with them? You can't see radiation, can you? How do you know it would harm them? Are you just relying on other people you never met to believe that radioactive material is harmful?
    Of course you can be a good human without believing in fairy tales. But how do you define what is good?
    Just some things to consider.

    July 5, 2010 at 2:49 pm |
  8. myopicIsYou

    Give me your tired, your poor,

    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,

    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

    I lift my lamp beside the golden door....unless you're not white – then nevermind.

    July 5, 2010 at 3:38 am |
  9. rolando

    this american club has rules and those rules can be changed for better rules.

    July 4, 2010 at 10:51 pm |
  10. Bill Gilman

    For those who do not believe in God and have chosen such vile and mean comments directed toward those of us that do ..... To be honest, if being an atheist makes you so vicious and cruel and hateful, why do you chose that path. Placing your faith in Jesus Christ is choosing a path of love and compassion. Those who claim to be Christians and esposue hate are not true Christians .. so please dont lump those of us who truly follow Jesus' teachings in with those who are Christian in name only but clearly follow satan's example .... and as to fairy tales ... if I'm wrong about heaven it won't matter .... but if you are wrong ...... just something to ponder.

    July 4, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
    • Niraj

      Why do you believe in God? Why? Have you seen your god to believe in?
      You see, I will give you an analogy; Would you buy a home if some trusted friend of yours tells you that it exists, but you can't see it before you close, would you buy it?

      How are you so sure that your jesus will do good to you? or for that matter you can't follow good human values, without believing in some "imaginary house"? Why can't you be a good human even if you don't believe in some fairy tale?

      Or for that matter, why do you think, atheists believe in some satanic being? That's an absurd assumption. It shows your ignorance and tribal (religious) mentality.

      July 5, 2010 at 1:39 pm |
  11. a.

    evangelical = complete religious wack-job

    July 4, 2010 at 3:38 pm |
    • ProCivilDiscourse

      Really smooth there – resorting to name-calling. Even my 1st grade son knows better. Anything not spoken (or written) from knowledge must come from ignorance, and is should be ignored.

      July 4, 2010 at 8:12 pm |
  12. chefdugan

    Please keep these hucksters out of the discussion. The fact is the illegals are here and should be deported as soon as they are identified. Right on Arizona!

    July 4, 2010 at 8:19 am |
  13. B_upton

    Not one of those people have any business being seen with, invited to, or placed within a mile of MY president.

    July 3, 2010 at 11:45 pm |
  14. Erica

    your vulnerability to very real and very personal demonic influences which are intent on robbing you of your freedom through temptation, accusation, deception and control. we don't charge out on our initiative like some kind of evangelical ghost-busters to hunt down the devil and engage in combat like many. Jehovah is LOVE KINDNESS TEACHING OF THE TRUTH. NOT KEEPING UP THE DEVIL'S LIE.

    July 3, 2010 at 8:17 pm |
  15. carol_cairo

    Bronze Age thinkers influencing MY gov't! Sad. whywontgodhealamputees.com

    July 3, 2010 at 3:59 pm |
    • tracy

      lol "MY" governement. sorry you have to share your country with the majority of voters.

      July 3, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
    • Abd al-Latif

      Do you think that no good ideas came out of the Bronze Age? Are you assuming that all old ideas are wrong, and all new ones are right? If so, what is the logical or empirical basis for that? You are led astray by the modernist notion of progress without even realizing it.

      July 5, 2010 at 4:55 pm |
  16. Guster

    Mario,

    If you read scripture, God always found ways to provide for His people, including at times, sending "manna" (food) to sustain them. Why would you say God promotes the idea of poor people suffering? Jesus specifially preached feeding and clothing homeless, widows ect.
    Your anger might be a bit misplaced given the facts of the matter. God loves us, all of us. What do you specifically do to ease the suffering of the poor?

    July 3, 2010 at 3:09 pm |
  17. Mario

    I'm Gay, Pro-Choice, and believe EVERYONE deserves Health Care. Any "God" that promotes the idea that poor people should suffer needlessly, isn't a God worth worshipping.

    July 3, 2010 at 2:46 pm |
    • Bill Gilman

      Mario,
      God does not want anyone to suffer needlessly ... No true follower of Jesus Christ would ever testify that anyone should suffer needlessly .... please stop thinking that the "Moral Majority" jerks are real saved Christians ... please please please read the Gospel of Matthew chapter 5-7 to learn what Jesus is truly about and then decide if He should be worshipped.

      July 4, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  18. Mario

    Let me say this loud and clear. Dr. Land, I am Hispanic and I AM NOT WITH YOU ON ANYTHING.

    July 3, 2010 at 2:43 pm |
  19. Guster

    I have never met a self proclaimed atheist who could ever give me any remotely coherent explanation as to the origins of the universe or the complexity of a simple human cell. The mathematical probability of a random event leading even to a strand of human DNA is beyond comprehension. It takes more faith to be an atheist than to believe in a intelligent designer. So the comments about a “sky fairy” are about as nonsensical as can be imagined. Obama has at least enough sense not to discredit himself intellectually and worry about how the atheist minority reacts to simply inviting some Christian pastors to express their views on a social issue.

    July 3, 2010 at 2:32 pm |
    • heisman

      more faith to be an atheist. also, blinding pride.

      July 3, 2010 at 2:35 pm |
    • Question

      : Do you allow for Hindu, Buddhist or Taoist origins of the Universe or only the Evangelical Christian view?

      July 3, 2010 at 10:46 pm |
    • Amunaka

      ""intelligent designer""""

      Why would one be so cruel...if it was truly intelligent...

      July 4, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
    • a.

      HA! What a joke. "i don't know" is much more intelligent than "i made some crazy stuff up about an invisible guy doing impossible things and I believe it for no good reason"

      July 4, 2010 at 3:42 pm |
    • myopicIsYou

      sooooo you're faith is based on likelihood?

      July 5, 2010 at 3:41 am |
  20. rkm63

    What happened to the self avowed marxist Wallis, did he get thrown under the bus like good ole Rev. Wright? LOL Ask yourself, when's the last time Obama attended church?

    July 3, 2010 at 1:46 pm |
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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.