By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN)–With the goal of urging the House to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill, the Catholic Church is organizing a targeted effort to push immigration reform in the pews and target Catholic lawmakers – particularly Republicans – who may be on the fence over the politically tenuous bill.
The movement, which was first reported in The New York Times, will include coordinated immigration reform sermons on September 8, as well as targeted messaging of Catholic lawmakers, including House Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP’s 2012 vice presidential candidate.
Washington (CNN) - A leader of an evangelical Christian organization pushing for immigration reform said that while the group needs to read the whole bill filed Wednesday in the U.S. Senate before fully endorsing it, the legislation doesn’t constitute amnesty “in any dictionary in the English language.”
A bipartisan group of senators formally filed the immigration legislation early Wednesday calling for border security as the cornerstone of reform. The bill also would prevent undocumented immigrants from reaching full legal resident status until after the government takes steps to keep unauthorized workers from getting jobs in the United States, according to a summary released before the bill was filed.
Afterward, at an event kicking off a lobbying day for more than 300 evangelical pastors on Capitol Hill, Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and a leader of Evangelical Immigration Table, said that anyone who says the bill provides amnesty needs “a course in remedial English.”
“From what we understand, the bill that dropped this morning has accountability for those who are here in an undocumented status,” Land said. “It provides an earned pathway to full legal status and then to citizenship for those who want it. That is not amnesty in any dictionary in the English language.”
Some other groups have labeled as amnesty any measure that would give people who are in the country illegally the opportunity to become U.S. citizens. FULL POST
Washington (CNN) – A majority of all major religious groups in the United States, according to a survey released Thursday, support a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants currently living in the country.
From American Jews to Mormons, from Catholics to white evangelical Christians, Robert P. Jones, the CEO of Public Religion Research Institute, said the overwhelming support for a pathway to citizenship has been growing in the last few years and is a noticeable reason many in Congress are warming to the idea.
The strongest support for a pathway to citizenship came from Hispanic Catholics, Hispanics Protestants and black Protestants, according to the poll. More than 70 percent of people who identified with those groups supported the immigration change.
Additionally, more than half of all Jewish Americans (67%), Mormons (63%), white Catholics (62%), white mainline Protestants (61%) and white evangelical Protestants (56%) supported the inclusive immigration policy.
“Having all of the groups on one side of this debate is pretty remarkable,” said Jones.
Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama emphasized the need to get immigration reform accomplished this year in a meeting with a diverse group of faith leaders at the White House on Friday.
Religious leaders that attended the meeting said the president spent more than an hour with them, and after making a few remarks at the top of the meeting he let each group discuss their priorities and problems with comprehensive immigration reform. During the discussion, these faith leaders said, Obama made it clear that he wanted to see a bill on immigration reform in the next 60 days.
“I really sensed that this is a high priority for him,” Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, a Christian social justice group, told CNN. “We are all looking at something being introduced this month and then the bill passing in May or June. We are all hoping that kind of time frame could work.”
Since winning reelection in 2012, the Obama administration has made it clear that immigration reform is a top priority for the president’s second term – and something they want to see quick action on. According to people who attended the meeting, in attendance, the president reiterated that support and laid out a timetable for the religious leaders.
Wallis, who has spearheaded a group of evangelical leaders on immigration reform, said that Obama particularly mentioned the importance of faith leaders in the immigration debate.
Washington (CNN) – When the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez talks about immigration, it is as someone who has witnessed the way a religious community is affected when a family is torn apart by deportation.
“It is personal for me,” Rodriguez said, describing deported friends and congregants as "lovely people. These are wonderful, God-fearing, family-loving people.”
Rodriguez, the head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, has a naturally boisterous voice that booms with authority. When he speaks about immigration, passion oozes out of every syllable. But his voice softens as he speaks of those close to him who have been deported: an associate pastor's wife, a friend from Sacramento, California, a well-known congregant - the list seems committed to memory.
Even as he relives the heartache, the pastor seems hopeful, if not optimistic.
By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
If asked to name the monumental chapters in Jewish history over the past century, people are likely to name the Holocaust or the founding of the state of Israel.
Overlooked and largely unknown, especially among younger generations, is a tale that spanned decades and transcended politics, people and places.
It is the story of a campaign that began in the 1960s and demanded freedom of religion, speech and movement for Soviet Jews – and, by extension, others – who lived behind the Iron Curtain. A new group that wants the Soviet Jewry movement remembered says it belongs in history books, not just Jewish books, and can be a model for confronting human rights abuses that exist now.
Even from the early days, this was a movement that spoke to a broader audience. FULL POST
Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.
By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN
(CNN)–Like many Americans, I reacted to the murders at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, with horror, and to the apparent arson at a Joplin, Missouri, mosque with sadness.
But I did not react with shock.
As the adviser to the Sikh Association at Boston University and a professor of many Muslim students, I am aware of the day-to-day discrimination these religious minorities experience in the United States. And as a historian I am aware of the history of discrimination against both groups throughout U.S. history.
When I first started studying Asian religions in the United States in graduate school, I assumed that the story of Asian immigration was a story of the arrival and adaptation of Hinduism, Buddhism and other Asian religions.
And so it is. But the broader story is much more complicated and intriguing.
By Jessica Yellin and Dan Merica
Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama is receiving political cover for his decision to stop deporting some young illegal immigrants from two big groups with whom his relations have been rocky: evangelical Christians and Catholics.
“We do give credit where credit is due,” said Kevin Appleby, director of Migration and Public Affairs for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, on Friday, when Obama made his announcement.
“We welcome the announcement, it will provide important relief to a vulnerable group that we believe should remain in the country,” Appleby said. “They didn't come here on their own volition; they came here with their parents. They are virtually Americans.”
By Gustavo Valdes, CNN
Birmingham, Alabama (CNN) - When the Alabama legislature approved what is considered the nation's toughest anti-illegal immigration law, much of the state's religious community was quick to condemn it.
The Roman Catholic, Episcopal and United Methodist churches went to court to block the law, calling it "the nation's most merciless anti-immigration legislation." But Latino evangelical leaders say a key voice in Alabama's debate is missing - that of their own denominations.
"Because this is at some level a moral issue, and the religious community cannot stand idly by and allow a moral issue like this to go without a comment," said Carlos Campo, president of Virginia's Regent University, the college founded by evangelical icon Pat Robertson.
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.