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. Ferdinand of Castile

    Long live Pope Benedict the 16th..

    August 18, 2010 at 4:11 pm |
  2. PJ

    As a practising Catholic I am fine with this article so long as Obama doesn't bring Benedict into his circle. We have one of the most evil Popes in modern history.

    July 12, 2010 at 4:42 pm |
  3. Wayne

    I am dumbfounded. I have nothing against Mexicans. I am, on the other hand very much against illegal immigration. I am very much against having to foot the bill educating the children of the illegal immigrants. I am against footing the bill for health care for illegal immigrants. My wife and I live on social security. Our medical cost goes up every year. Groceries cost more every week as does gas and hundreds of other things. All the while our own government is constantly cutting, gouging and beating us out os every penny they can. Our taxes are going up. Health care going up and we are suppose to pay for them. I would and have given the shirt off my back to someone who needed it worse than myself but I think we have given far more than our fare share. My wifi is a "Legal Alien Resident" of this country. At 68 years of age she has as have I worked and paid taxes, social security, unemployment, etc., etc. We had hopes of being able to retire someday. Maybe enjoy some of the fruits of our labor. That dream has been tossed out the window. Mexico has 107,000,000 citizens and over 10% of them are already in this country illegally. We are now being asked to support them while they send our dollars back to their country. They live better than I do now and I have worked here for over a half centry. No, I cannot and will not go along with just handing them citizenship on a silver platter. I and my wife and millions of others just like us are starving and Yes, the illegals are litterally taking the food right out of our mouths.

    July 12, 2010 at 3:44 pm |
  4. serg

    Obama is an IDIOT.
    Why in he world doea he get Christian Pstors if he himself is a MUSLIM.
    His hyprococy Just continues and knows no bounds.
    We are the ignorant idiots that elected this thing we call a president.
    We should of just elected Al-Qaeda and there cabinet to run this country.

    July 12, 2010 at 10:34 am |
  5. F-Dawg

    I find the section on Land to be the most interesting. It says he sees reform as a biblical mandate, but his own words sound more political than biblical. Hispanics are "hard wired" to side with evangelicals on abortion and other social issues, he says, and he doesn't want to alienate them. Is he worried about alienating them from the church or from the Republican party? Is there a difference anymore? It's getting harder to tell.

    July 11, 2010 at 9:56 pm |
  6. sunshinegal

    Eric Holder said today we have to sue Arizona because this is interfering with Mexico, Centra America in doing business. These countries don't allow illegals and they think we should? Why else has the government not secured the border. It is because of their ties with these countries which they think eventually they will be able to take over. This government including Holder are nothing more than money hungry crooks.

    July 11, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
  7. Phki Mck

    I don't know what the fuss is all about. Just because Obama and the 4 wise men want to instantly legalize all who cross the border and....really want to erase the border doesn't mean that the slow destruction of the US is right upon us. Take it easy on the word illegal...its so yesterday. In fact we should remove the border fence, pull back the border patrol, say to....Chicago and hand over all states to the Mexican Gov. If we don't do that, Obama, Holder and that fella down in Mexico city the drug cartel boss or the El Presidente will do it for us. Sit back, relax, watch soccer, and learn Spanish cuz the $ will eventually turn into peso.

    July 11, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Bless you, Phki Mck!!!

      VERY WELL SAID! Because of the sins of America, she is slowly being destroyed and we see. But those who call it mother nature fails to realize that God is not the one to mock! Many have gone and are going to hell for disobeying the Word of the Living God Almighty!


      July 11, 2010 at 8:55 pm |
  8. sunshinegal

    The Churches should stay out of this or pay taxes like other businesses. They are losing souls quickly so they need to speak up for a group of people l who break the law. God created man and then woman. Churches should not support gay marriages. So, to say Obama and his Church people discussing immigration is a joke.

    Deport all illegals. Tell them to sign up and wait their turn to come here. We are supposed to be county of laws and what do we have? A President who supports people who break the law. How disgraceful is that

    July 11, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      For you and those that are bashing illegal immigrants that are also God's creation, you fail to realize that all of you are also illegal aliens in the Kingdom of God. If you don't repent of your sins, you will not be let in my Father's House! Illegal aliens souls will not be allowed because of their evil deeds and hate towards other. There will never be separation of state and church because heaven and earth belongs to God and everything that is around is has EVERYTHING to do with God, like it or not!

      July 11, 2010 at 8:52 pm |
  9. HeIsGod

    Praise God for President Obama's wisdom to allow these man of God to speak at the speech! These are men who are not religious, they have a true relationship with Christ Jesus, our Lord!

    July 11, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
  10. PrinceTamino

    Why is he pandering to these evangelicals? Religious leaders do not belong. The only thing that keeps us more civilized than the Middle East is SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE!

    July 11, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
  11. publius enigma

    I'm all for legal immigration, and if the rules of immigration are too strict then I think we should lighten up. The only part I am against is the idea that we keep them illegal but let them stay anyway. The pool of illegal labor is depressing the wage market for legal workers. Those jobs are underpriced because the illegals that do them are not able to negotiate freely. Either make them legal or send them home.

    July 11, 2010 at 4:21 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      I agree! May God grant them the immigration reform. A Resident Alien card would be good for them. Every 10 years it would have to be renewed and the USA would make $$ from them. Many would probably won't be interested in becoming US citizens, they just want to be able to go and visit their love ones, but be able to return back to the USA.

      July 11, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  12. Semper Fi

    The liberal left would be screaming "seperation of church and state" if a conservative POTUS tried to pull a publicity stunt like this. What a pack of hypocrits!

    July 11, 2010 at 9:49 am |
  13. jim

    I'm with you!

    July 10, 2010 at 6:51 pm |
  14. mcwilliams

    Revoke their tax exempt status, investigate them for child molestation, and fake faith healing. That will bring the churches in line:)

    July 9, 2010 at 8:35 pm |
  15. marie

    Well now, if Mr Hybels was a spiritual advisor to Bill Clinton, there went his credibility. Also, did you notice? Mr Obama invited evangelical leaders who seemingly have been in favor of wide-spread amnesty. I am not surprised that Mr O does not invite and encourage a debate between pro and con opinions re illegal immigration. He never seems to investigate the Arizona point of view. Of course, it is well known that he wants to squash any criticism of his ideas and opinions. Most Americans want the illegals sent home. Lets do it!!!

    July 9, 2010 at 4:40 pm |
    • mcwilliams

      If we send illegals "home," that would be everyone here except Native Americans. Are you Apache or something? If not, you gotta go too

      July 9, 2010 at 8:39 pm |
    • PrinceTamino

      No. Even assuming we had a magic wand that could round up all the illegals...do you have any idea how much it would cost to transport them home? Not practical. I say require them to work on the oil cleanup then grant them a greencard after two years.

      July 11, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
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About this blog

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.