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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. mark

    No! didn't we learn anything from the awful Bush era? Separation of Church and State. these guys have zero business in government.

    July 9, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
  2. kapukane

    A group of ignorant, foolish men spreading myths and lies to vulnerable weak minded people. If there was such a place as 'hell" they should get first class ticket.

    July 9, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
  3. mrrealtime

    people who have imaginary friends advise the most powerful man on earth. Crazy!

    July 9, 2010 at 11:06 am |
  4. joe

    Not one legitimate Christian.

    July 8, 2010 at 3:41 pm |
    • jrip

      Joe, I happen to know one of these men personally & you don't know what you are talking about.

      July 9, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
  5. JL

    Religion in this context has nothing to do with the issue. It's simple political posturing by Obama. Illegal entry into the US is ILLEGAL. We don't need reform just enforcement of existing law. Go AZ!!!!!!

    July 8, 2010 at 1:03 pm |
    • Gary

      JL. agreed I am so proud of AZ . with 14% and growing unemplment in this country we shouldnt invite anyone in. ....We dont have the jobs and welfare tax dollars to support legal or illegal immigrants

      July 8, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
  6. Larry

    It is a sad day when Churches get involved in government. They are suppose to be "not of this world". Also, they have no business tell other what to do through laws (government). People are "free moral agent", we are suppose to have free will.
    Christians instead should be setting examples by how they life. The church is nothing but a money maker these days.

    July 8, 2010 at 11:06 am |
  7. Martin

    Religion is about hate? How did Satan get on this page? Nothing is farther from the truth. The Bible says God is love!
    Where do these sick ideas come from? Not the Bible.

    July 8, 2010 at 8:53 am |
    • Gary

      Martin, How did Satan get on this page? Satan comes from religious texts like Bible quran ect ...thats how!

      July 8, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
    • kapukane

      Apparently you have never really read the Bible. It is one of the sickest books around. No child should be permitted to read it.

      July 9, 2010 at 12:18 pm |
  8. RJ

    I find it shocking that an intellectual like this President surrounds himself with magical thinking....as a society we have a lot more evolving to do.

    July 8, 2010 at 8:29 am |
  9. CGeorgeK

    So much for the separation of church and state – how about we repeal the tax exempt status of religions altogether as they seem just as meddling in politics as any other lobbyists. The deeply religious are some of the most ignorant, impractical and unrealistic people on the planet. Mr. Obama has done nothing to enforce existing immigration laws – his sworn duty – and should be impeached immediately. His only chance at immigration reform (the way he wants it) is to call upon these religious leaders to mesmerize their flocks to believing and doing whatever he chooses. It is time for sane American people to do things the old fashioned way – the way our country came into existence.

    July 7, 2010 at 6:51 pm |
    • nwatcher

      Separate the church from the state and see how long this country lasts. Instead, separate the State from the affairs of the church as was originally intended. Those deeply religious..ignorant, impractical and unrealistic people have died for your freedom, educated your children, cared for your aging parents, fed orphans and the homeless, OBVIOUSELY they are useless to have around. Come to think of it, they must be impractical and unrealistic to tackle all those things – but ignorant?
      Hardly, they know exactly what they are doing (and you should thank them)!

      July 8, 2010 at 11:55 am |
  10. scarecrow

    God is a concept in man's mind which attempts to express in human terms some essence of the natural forces which got the universe started along with its ability to support life. Only by using science to look deeper at the natural world can we uncover more about what's going on with that. As far as religious doctrine goes, it's mostly a bunch of nonsense – the words of men determined to define a moral code, not words revealed by a God.

    July 7, 2010 at 3:02 pm |
    • Gary

      Well said..

      July 7, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
  11. scarecrow

    For not being pre-screened, I feel like I'm being pre-screened.

    July 7, 2010 at 2:54 pm |
  12. Johnnyfi

    Christians can be compassionate and still follow the law. To say we are being unChristian because we oppose illegal immigration is not true. Jesus never broke any of Caeser's laws. He may have broken Jewish laws, but he was the embodiment of The Law and the Covenant anyway. They were His to define. And most Latinos, if you ask them, are opposed to illegal immigration too. They don't want to have their hard work and law-abiding behavior sullied by the ones flooding the border. BHO is smart to ask these guys to come in. I'm not sure it'll make a difference, but it's a good idea.

    July 7, 2010 at 2:32 pm |
  13. jack7027

    Any one of the astoundingly destructive actions this administration has has taken, seemingly AGAINST the American people and our allies: thoughtless troop withdrawal dates, the racial "gaff" leading to the Crowley/Gates beer summit, his inaction for over 2 months following the gulf oil leak, the knife in the back of Poland and the Czech Republic before he had even settled into his office, astronomical spending the likes of which has never been seen by man, the broken promises of help to one of our 50(not 57 states) followed by a federal lawsuit for said state attempting to help itself, the monumentally disgraceful public criticism of the Arizona's immigration law by Obama cabinet members followed by their shameless admissions of having not even read the 16 page(PDF format) bill, the assertation that some monstrously costly and mostly rejected healthcare bill will be better AND cheaper for all American families while his biggest fan SPOT Pelosi says thers's no way to know what is in the bill until it's passed, his countless anti-American friends and acquaintances, his utterly unexplainable cabinet appointments (Kevin Jennings "Safe School Czar"???), his apologies for America's "arrogance" among other borderline acts of treason just to name a few, should be enough for most intelligent Americans to question this man and his motives. Take his record of performance as a whole and I question how America EVER let this happen.

    July 7, 2010 at 10:43 am |
  14. Gary

    Hey Cesar, God is blessing illegals,Chinese and India with American jobs .

    July 7, 2010 at 9:14 am |
  15. PJ

    There is only one solution for Immigration Reform. An electrified fence along the border and deportation of all illegals. Illegals are criminals and we should not forget that.

    July 6, 2010 at 5:59 pm |
    • friend_of_immigrants

      How do you know that all undocumented people are criminals? Do you know them? Have you seen their record? Do you think that just being here makes them a criminal? If you do, you are wrong. With now the exception of Arizona, everywhere else in the country, being undocumented in the US is just a civil offense, like speeding. I don't know how you drive, but I will be the first to admit that I speed every single day. Am I a criminal in your eyes because I break this civil law daily?

      July 7, 2010 at 7:52 am |
  16. STLBroker

    Jesus said "Give to Caesar that which is Caesars and give to God that which is God's". Caesar in this case is the laws of the United States. Illegal aliens are not giving to Caesar that which is Caesar's, which would be taxes in this case.

    I think we can all agree with Jesus in that everyone should obey the law.

    July 6, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
    • friend_of_immigrants

      The first part of what you say is true, but how do you now who pays taxes? I help many undocumented friends do their taxes every year, which they complete with an ITIN. Did you know that the IRS has a special number that any undocumented person can request to pay their taxes- it has nine numbers just like a social security number- and I know many undocumented people who pay their taxed year after year, let alone what they pay out of their paychecks (yes, MANY undocumented people are paid in check). Of course, there are some undocumented people who don't pay taxes, but then again there are many CITIZENS who try to evade paying taxes. In this case, your statement should apply to all human beings who are failing to pay taxes, not just scapegoating the immigrant community. There are many internet articles about undocumented people paying taxes with ITINs, if you would like more confirmation of what I am saying.

      July 7, 2010 at 7:45 am |
  17. Single American

    I hope President Obama has a good explanation for giving a nasa mission to the muslim world!

    July 6, 2010 at 4:14 pm |
  18. ugh

    Guess the US is giving up any attempt to have separation of church and state. Cause of course we need more scary people forcing their mythology on us. Religion is just an excuse for some people to control others.

    Time to move to Canada.....

    July 6, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
  19. faithplusnothing

    @joevotes, obviously you have not read yours. The Bible teaches to abide by the law.

    July 6, 2010 at 12:44 pm |
  20. rob

    Please people. Instead of the constant judging and throwing of stones – how bout finding your own purpose and begin to work toward bringing and keeping love and harmony in the world. So much time is wasted with all this chronic complaining.

    July 6, 2010 at 12:19 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.