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. ybs

    The four stooges!

    July 2, 2010 at 6:06 am |
  2. alstefanelli

    These four clowns have no business in any policy decisions.

    July 2, 2010 at 1:07 am |
  3. Joel Weymouth

    Immigration Reform IS ENFORCE THE BLOODY LAW. When you as an executive must enforce the law on the books and you refuse to enforce the laws on the books: WHAT ARE YOU? What type of person are you? DO YOU DESERVE TO BE THE EXECUTIVE?

    July 2, 2010 at 12:46 am |
  4. Alexa Gomez

    I've only been in this country a short distance, so it makes me wonder what all this "separation of church and state" fuss is all about? Gracias Dios!

    July 1, 2010 at 11:01 pm |
    • Willy

      Smart people don't want to be ruled by dumb ones. At least that's how I take it.

      July 3, 2010 at 12:35 pm |
    • earthlover

      dumb people are quick to call people dumb who don't agree with them. that's how i take it.

      July 3, 2010 at 2:44 pm |
  5. TheRationale

    Why religious leaders are allowed anywhere near the government just does not make sense. They don't pay taxes, and there's a strict wall between government and religion. They shouldn't have the slightest bearing on what goes on.

    July 1, 2010 at 10:55 pm |
  6. J

    Isn't it interesting that George W. Bush (unlike Obama at this event) invited religious leaders to the White House even though he KNEW they disagreed with him on certain things? I'm thinking of Jim Wallis specifically, though I'm sure there are others.

    July 1, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
  7. Marc F

    Leviticus 19:33-34, When a stranger dwells among you in your land, do not taunt him. The stranger who dwells with you shall be like a native among you, and you shall love him like yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt–I am the Lord, your God.

    July 1, 2010 at 7:25 pm |
    • Rob

      Obama 2010:07-31, And those natives among you shall take your livelyhood for free and bring drugs and gangs into your towns and cities. You shall comfort them and let them take from you without negative effect. They will march against you in the street and call you racist, but you shall ignore it. You shall look at me as a one term president who shows my incompetence in everything I do. I am the all knowing, your Facilitator of Change.

      July 1, 2010 at 7:45 pm |
    • Mike

      I love how the teabaggers are only in favor of the Bible when it supports their agenda, but they mock it when it doesn't, like what Rob has done here.

      July 1, 2010 at 8:28 pm |
    • Marc F

      Rob, I did not write these words nor do I really believe them. I did not vote for Obama nor do I support the Democratic Party. I'm simply pointing out the hypocrisy of the modern day conservative believer. If you believe that the Bible is the Word of God then you need to do some serious soul searching on this issue.

      July 1, 2010 at 9:23 pm |
    • J

      Marc, I wasn't an alien in the land of Egypt. I know what you're getting at, but that verse doesn't really prove your point.

      July 1, 2010 at 10:14 pm |
    • Joel Weymouth

      Marc F : I love it when liberals try to quote the Bible and they have no clue what they are quoting. A "stranger" was a person that was in Israel who was not HEBREW you filthy moron. Invaders at this time would have been wiped out.

      July 2, 2010 at 12:50 am |
    • michelle

      Thanks Dan, We have become a Nation driven by FEAR not by FAITH.

      July 2, 2010 at 8:28 am |
    • Carlos

      That was a very beautiful scripture. Thank you. Our God is so dear and precious. He loves the foreigner and the stranger. Thank you, Marc, for keeping the faith.

      July 10, 2010 at 7:22 pm |
  8. shawna coviello

    Does this joke of a Pres really think that we, Americans, don't remember how he changed the law,made up his own rules, to push medical through, and during the meeting, telling Senator McCain" I won the election, remember", but now, blames him, as well as everyother Rep., for immigration reform not going through. He shows more and more to be a master manipulator, and we, Americans, will pay the ultimate price. Hey, where's those 2000 Nat. Gaurd that he promised Az Gov, and Sen. Kyle? Oh, but its everyone else, not doing their job, right? Has this guy yet to prove he is an American citizen through birth certificate?? Hmm, well Happy Birthday to our great America, and all Americans, who won't be duped, again!

    July 1, 2010 at 7:11 pm |
    • civiloutside

      Yes, actually, he has proved over and over and over again by his birth certificate that he's a citizen. The hospital he was born at (in Hawaii) has responded to thousands of requests to provide copies of said birth certificate. But for some reason people refuse to accept it – mostly because they don't want to. And yes, the American people will be fooled over and over and over again. It happens in virtually every election cycle, and it would have happened had we voted for McCain as well.

      July 9, 2010 at 1:57 pm |
  9. john h.

    obama and the demonrats(democrats) are doing everything in their power to ram amnesty down our throats but i only see token resistance from the repukeacons (republicans). can anyone tell me why? please people, go to the polls and vote against ANYONE who is for so called immigration reform(amnesty). the only reform we need is ENFORCEMENT OF CURRENT IMMIGRATION LAWS.

    July 1, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
    • tammy levi

      I am a life long Republican but am tired of being told that anything Obama does is evil,where is the christian truth in that? Lets reflect our Christian values by being honest .

      July 2, 2010 at 9:35 am |
  10. Ronnie Harper

    A horrible week for liberals capped off with a terrible, useless speech and then a parting shot by Obama as he caters to mysticism and first century thinkers. I am now officially disappointed in our President. It looks like the Democratic party doesn't really want the support of the people, just big business and religion, like the Republicans. The administration won't allow foreign states to assist in the Gulf, stand up for equal rights, or exercise its executive authority to make any meaningful change in the sorry state of affairs our social and public policy has become. I guess it's time to just stop participating because it appears to me that our government is rotten to the core. It's truly disappointing that he personally invited these bigots to his speech, among a host of other things he's (not) done in the past several weeks/months.

    July 1, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
    • maggy

      There were many people from diifferent segments of our society at this speech. He is trying to get many people involved because this is such a divisive issue. The fact that you dismiss these religious leaders with such vitriol is exactly the kind of attitude that continues to keep our nation divided. By the way, I consider myself to be a liberal and a Christian, and I listen to other viewpoints that are presented with respect. Just because I listen doesn't meam that I subscribe to those views. Indeed there is hate on both sides.

      July 3, 2010 at 6:26 am |
  11. Rob

    What does religion have to do with immigration?

    I am surprised Obama didn't invite a Muslim Cleric, Jewish Rabbi, and Buddist Monk to the speech since he is all about minority inclusion in everything he does.

    July 1, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Rob.......Yes, I am surprised as well. If....one, in this example being the President is going to invite 'anyone' that is a 'believer' of any of the major 'faiths'....which does include Islam, Judaism, .as well as christianity.....then again yes.....I am surprised as well. The other 'faiths' should have been represented...

      July 11, 2010 at 1:40 am |
  12. Steve

    Five words: Separation of Church and State. Why do these religious leaders feel they have a right to impose their extreme views on others via the ballot box? Keep religion out of politics, on imiigration and ALL other issues.

    July 1, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
    • jawn lawk

      via the ballot box? are you sure you meant to say that? you just challenged their right to vote the way they choose.

      July 1, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
    • DanW

      They are no different than any other special interest group, with every right to be heard. The governemnt cannot establish an official religion, but that does not mean it cannot consult the religious or ask for their opinions.

      July 5, 2010 at 2:44 am |
    • RAWoD

      Leaders? People we should listen to? Like Jim Baker? Ted Haggard? Jeremiah Wright? Terry Hornbuckle? Jimmy Swagart? Henry J. Lyons? Douglas Alan Scott? Henry Humphrey? Anthony Jinwright? Gregorio Gonzalez? Pastors Anthony and Harriet Jinwright? Pastor Gaston Smith?

      Please world, grow up and come to understand that every single one of these "men of god" is in jail or has gone to jail.

      Worth listening to? No.


      July 5, 2010 at 1:06 pm |
  13. James

    Why did Obama invite an anti-gay rights person to the immigration reform meeting? Is that gonna help or hinder the plight?

    July 1, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
    • jawn lawk

      he believes in a team of rivals, and probably has the ability to reject advice he doesnt find helpful.

      July 1, 2010 at 10:19 pm |
  14. Ricardo

    I dont understand why there is all that racism this country was made of immigrants people get educated then talk no immigration no usa

    July 1, 2010 at 4:01 pm |
    • Rob

      Its funny, you state that anti ILLEGAL immigration is about race when ILLEGAL immigration from all countries, regardless of race, is affected. The problem is, only certain races come to the United States in such large numbers and are such a burden on the US infrastructure that it is assumed it is about them. If French Canadians were coming across the border in the millions for free heathcare, education, and jobs you better believe people would be up in arms about it. Fortunately our neighbors to the north share our values and this does not happen. I know many people of Mexican origin that support anti ILLEGAL immigration laws. Does this mean they are racist against themselves? No. It means that they dont want their taxes used to support people who shouldnt be here and only have a negative impact on the US economy.

      July 1, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
    • David K.


      Actually you are wrong, most "Americans" are descended from so called illegal immigrants. Now, of course, they were not called that at the time, since the concept that an immigrant could be "illegal" is a modern thing. Back when most of our peoples came to America (Our peoples, as in all non-native Americans), we never got a "green card", or a social security number, or have to sit through classes to learn English, or sit through classes to learn US History, or were limited to only a few thousand people becoming citizens a year. You see, back then, you were an American as soon as you stepped off the boat, found some place to live, and got a job.

      Even though for a while there a lot of people went through places like Ellis island, nothing really all that official happened there. People were just checked for the plague, and if they didn't have it, sent on there way, and the people who could afford a more expensive boat never even stopped at Ellis island.

      But yes, we were hated. Every single group of new immigrants that came to America were hated by the people already here. The Native Americans hated the English. The English then hated the Irish, German, French, Italian, Jewish, Polish, Russian, Chinese, etc etc. But eventually they were accepted. Either being around long enough, for the people finding something else to hate, the immigrants stopped being immigrants and were just thought of as American.

      "Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
      With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
      Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
      A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
      Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
      Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
      Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
      The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
      "Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
      With silent lips. "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!"

      That is what being an American is about. So I reject the thought that there can be an "illegal" American as anyone, regardless of race, religion, ethnic group, gender, culture, or anything else that can possibly be used to define humans, are American, simply by living in America!

      July 2, 2010 at 12:59 am |
    • fedup99

      yep! You're right, no USA. A ton of happy Indians though.

      July 9, 2010 at 9:42 pm |
  15. Cheyla

    Well since religion is mostly about hate, then I don't see how this is going to help reform immigration unless we just want to keep everyone out.

    July 1, 2010 at 3:46 pm |
    • Lucy

      It's not hate to want to keep everyone out ... it's self-preservation! And Christianity is about love - maybe its followers don't always show it but our leader is the epitome of LOVE. Please open your heart.

      July 1, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
    • jonathan

      yes Jesus preserved himself by going to the cross....

      July 1, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
    • jawn lawk

      "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Jesus of Nazareth.

      July 1, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
    • daoud

      Jesus loves his enemies for only so long....then he sends them to hell. Can you feel the love?

      July 2, 2010 at 5:26 am |
    • relians

      if your child should worship another god, better that you kill him – jesus, yeah epitome of love...lol

      July 2, 2010 at 12:06 pm |
    • Bill Gilman

      Cheyla ... i can only speak for my faith and i can tell you that Jesus did NOT prech hate .. i challenge you to read the Gospel of Matthew chapters 5-7 ... then more if you want ... to learn that Jesus taught love and compassion and mercy and forgiveness and THAT is what true Christianity is ... hate is of satan. Period. You can call yourself a Chrsitian but the truth can be found in the fruit of your life ...live your life filled with hate and intolerance and vengence and you are not a Christian.

      July 4, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
    • DanW

      Daoud: They send themselves to hell by rejecting Him. That does not preclude love. If your apartment building were on fire and the fire department did everything in its power to rescue you, and you refused to leave your apartment, who would be to blame if you perished?

      July 5, 2010 at 2:39 am |
    • daoud

      DanW, no offense, meant but it seems Christians always find a loophole. Asides people "sending theirselves to helll" bottom line God created Hell. Why would he have created it if he didn't have the intention of burning someone in it. Sorry, someone who states love me or I will consume you in hellfire, I would not define as loving. The bible in trying to prove itself, stumbles over its own feet. I won't continue to argue it, because, from experience we will get nowhere. I have read the bible thru and thru, grew up w/it, studied it and cannot accept all of its contradictions and its perverted definition of love. No better than islam.

      July 5, 2010 at 7:58 am |
    • daoud

      DanW, almost forgot to answer your question. I can only say I'd burn. My question to you is, why would the fire dept attempt to rescue me when they started the fire in the 1st place? Ahh, the mysteries of the bible. Fear is its greatest recruiting tool.

      July 5, 2010 at 8:05 am |
    • Ry

      Cheyla, where do get your information from that religion is about hate? You obviously had a bad experience from someone. Don't let someones actions dictate what their religion is all about. People make mistakes and nobody is able to live up the the love that Christianity promotes. I assume you are talking about mostly Christianity.

      If you read the Gospels of Christ, you would not find one sentence that talks about hate, not one.

      Have a great day and an amazing weekend. God bless.

      July 8, 2010 at 9:37 am |
  16. Toby

    “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.”- Seneca

    July 1, 2010 at 3:32 pm |
    • Scott

      When this statement was made, he was still alive and had no actual knowlledge of the afterlife. I must be a common man in his opinion. I belive that his opinion has changed since he has met God by now!! Was this the Elder or the Younger Senica?

      July 1, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
    • Ronnie Harper

      The wise still unanimously agree that super naturalism is fiction.

      July 1, 2010 at 6:03 pm |
    • J

      Actually, that's a quote from Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, not Seneca: "The various modes of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people as equally true; by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful."

      July 1, 2010 at 10:11 pm |
    • jawn lawk

      "it seems that i am wiser to this small extent, that i do not think i know what i do not know." – socrates

      1- to rule out the existence of God, when there is no evidence to disprove Him.
      2. to unanomously speak for all the wise and their opinion of super-naturalism.

      July 1, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
    • DanW

      The wise, or the wise in their own eyes?

      July 5, 2010 at 2:35 am |
    • ApeHanger

      “Religion is regarded by the educated people as false, by the riff-raff as true, and by the rulers as useful for courting the Hispanic vote.”

      July 5, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
  17. warrior63

    I'm glad he asked them to his speech. They are respected leaders in the Christian community and their voices are heard and listened to. America became a great nation because of immigrants, which all our ancestors were. Its important to make sure they have easier access to become immigrants, by doing so it will stem the tide of illegal immigrants.

    July 1, 2010 at 3:08 pm |
    • sunshinegal

      You have to be joking, right.

      July 2, 2010 at 10:37 am |
    • steve

      What other laws would these "Christian" leaders feel it's ok to break?

      July 2, 2010 at 2:53 pm |
    • ApeHanger

      "Respected Christian leaders?" I didn't know there was such a thing. They're nothing but hucksters taking money in the name of the Lord.

      July 5, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
    • RAWoD

      Respected? As in Jim Baker? Ted Haggard? Jeremiah Wright? Terry Hornbuckle? Jimmy Swagart? Henry J. Lyons? Douglas Alan Scott? Henry Humphrey? Anthony Jinwright? Gregorio Gonzalez? Pastors Anthony and Harriet Jinwright? Pastor Gaston Smith?

      Please world, grow up and come to understand that every single one of these "men of god" is in jail or has gone to jail.

      Respected? I think not.

      July 5, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
    • faithplusnothing

      What part of ILLEGAL don't you get?

      July 6, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
    • kapukane

      Inviting ignorant foolish men to the White House will accomplish nothing. We should all be joining together to tear Christianity down until it goes extinct. This is the only way the human species will grow up, mature and evolve the way the Creator intended. This goes for all organized religions.

      July 9, 2010 at 12:28 pm |
  18. jskdn

    These are not elected officials. While they are free to make their case to believers who then can register their preferences on illegal immigration with their representatives and at the polls, they represent just 4 votes in this country themselves. The divide between the elites and regular people extends to church too.

    July 1, 2010 at 3:01 pm |
  19. Cindy

    NOT anti-immigration, anti ILLEGAL immigration. How hard is that concept?

    July 1, 2010 at 2:28 pm |
    • Reality

      Most excellent!!! End of the discussion!!!

      July 1, 2010 at 4:57 pm |
    • jawn lawk

      absolutely correct cindy.

      July 1, 2010 at 10:05 pm |
    • joevotes

      Because they're still human beings, and Jesus and his true followers don't regard people as less human or contemptible because they broke the law. Have you actually read your Bible?

      July 2, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
    • jawn lawk

      joe, i'm not at all implying that criminals are subhuman. very weak red herring. are you suggesting that there be no law? or that it should be the law in name only and never be enforced?

      July 2, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
    • myopicIsYou

      The native americans also had a very strict immigration policy. i would suggest that you declare your status to the appropriate native american authorities with the proper identification in hand.

      July 5, 2010 at 3:35 am |
    • Abd al-Latif

      Evidently it's a much "harder concept" than you realize. You see, yes, technically illegal immigrants are breaking the law. That's bad, agreed. Now, let's look at WHY they're doing that. They're doing that (most of them) not to smuggle drugs, but because there are NO JOBS in Mexico, OK? Let's see YOU try to feed your kids if you were born down there. Pure hypocrisy.

      July 5, 2010 at 4:51 pm |
    • faithplusnothing

      Amen Cindy!

      July 6, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
  20. Sean

    These pastors seem to fear man instead of God.

    July 1, 2010 at 1:31 pm |
    • zach chease

      I hear you

      July 1, 2010 at 8:06 pm |
    • ybs

      The 4 stooges!

      July 2, 2010 at 6:05 am |
    • jesus

      I'd sooner invite four palm readers than four religion hucksters. Why do these spreaders of Bronze Age myths still have any credence in our 21st century? In my world, they would prosecuted for grand theft and fraud. Many of these characters make well into the six figures and don't pay a dime in taxes. What a ruse?

      July 2, 2010 at 12:21 pm |
    • Lee

      They are evil charlatans.

      July 2, 2010 at 2:05 pm |
    • Serlenborn

      Why, because they have an opinion that does not conform to yours? Your statement says more about you than it does about them.

      July 2, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
    • jawn lawk

      lol- how are they showing fear of man?

      July 2, 2010 at 7:05 pm |
    • Not Again

      Why didn’t the White House ask Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and Jewish Religious Leaders for their opinion on immigration reform? – Come on Obama don’t Boot Lick the Evangelical Vote they are not as powerful as you think!

      July 2, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
    • Stephen

      What does 'immigration reform' mean anyway? The fact is that folks who enter our land illegally are likened to someone desiring sex from another yet doesn't want to commit. Someone who wants all of the facets of a relationship but doesn't have to 'put out' themselves to make it work.

      July 5, 2010 at 8:10 am |
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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.