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. Dawn

    To all of the people posting the negative comments: I attend Willow Creek Community Church and have known Bill Hybels for many years. He has a great love for all people, including immigrants, and his views are NOT extreme. He is simply acting under the belief that all people matter to God. And regarding "the separation of church and state"... Members of the church have as much of a right to speak out with opinions on social issues as anyone else. Please do not attack people that you do not know.

    July 3, 2010 at 1:41 pm |
  2. Willy

    Belief in invisible friends truly is childish. It's amazing that CNN.com puts this sort of trash on their front page.

    July 3, 2010 at 12:32 pm |
    • GodIsForImbeciles

      Agreed. It's one thing for a 9-year old to believe in elves that bake cookies in a hollow tree, but for an adult to believe in a wish-granting sky fairy that promises eternal life is just the apotheosis of vain self-absorption.

      July 6, 2010 at 1:58 am |
  3. GodIsForImbeciles

    Professor Hope & Change sucks up to the sky fairy worshipers. Why am I not surprised?!

    July 3, 2010 at 5:26 am |
  4. JennyTX

    Four Christian leaders? Aren't there other religions in this country as well? Why weren't they represented?

    July 2, 2010 at 11:23 pm |
    • daoud

      I would like to see Satanism represented by Anton LaVey of the 1st Satanic Church, CA.

      July 3, 2010 at 7:32 am |
  5. Wake Up

    Maybe the White House should ask Evangelical Pastors for their advice on World Events and the BP Crisis too! – Photo Ops with these Troglodytes won’t help Obama’s reelection prospects one bit as they will turn on him and put their vote behind the Sock Puppets that will legislate their Bible Apocalypse of the future into Law.

    July 2, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
    • Bill Gilman

      why so vicious?

      July 4, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  6. RevMonita

    These pastors are the FOUR Stooges all right!!! As a Christian minister myself I can vouch for that, power hungry, men pleasing charlatans who merely wishes to visibility so they can pander. Oh please, they should stop the hypocrisy already.

    July 2, 2010 at 10:10 pm |
    • mr pink

      the measure you use will be used against you.

      July 2, 2010 at 10:14 pm |
  7. Benher

    "The earth is mine" says the Lord. God our creator created everything and holds everything together, the Alpha and Omega. He gave us the basic law- Love God and Love your neighbor.He created man in His image. Soon in His time He will ask of you an accounting of this Law like what HE asked of Cain...."where is your brother Abel? What have you done to him?..."Am I my brother's keeper? was his infamous defiant answer!

    July 2, 2010 at 8:11 pm |
  8. nwatcher

    Desperate man (the pres)... to invite four representatives of a large spiritual group in America that he has completely dumped on, ridiculed, and worked hard at destroying any moral ground they occupy, wow! If they show up to listen to his speech, they should lose their jobs. I'm also amazed at the ignorant use of "separation of church and state" in these comments...

    July 2, 2010 at 7:44 pm |
  9. Erky

    Europe has gone through this nonsense in the past – giving political powers to religious figures, blending nationalism and religion, and promoting the delusion that your country is favored by God etc. This just leads to fascism, war, intolerance. Nothing good EVER comes from it. Americans still haven't figured it out.

    July 2, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  10. vegas01

    By the way, isn't he supposed to believe in the definition of "separation of church and state" to mean no hint of religion in on or around government? Why call in religious folk then? Looking for an image change?

    July 2, 2010 at 3:42 pm |
  11. vegas01

    Heaping to himself men with itching ears...

    2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

    I guess the volume of the American public cannot be heard in DC, else he would not need to call up folks to advise him on what to do. he would know to honor the law of the land by securing the borders and deporting all the international trespassers (illegal aliens)

    July 2, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
  12. juan obulafo lopelo

    Righteousness exaults a nation but SIN is a reproach to any people,mr obama should read romans chapter 13 and then seek the councel of God before choosing the right Pastors because many are called but few are choosen.

    July 2, 2010 at 2:42 pm |
  13. FunnyFace

    Unless a person is a full-blooded American Indian, we're all immigrants or descended from immigrants. Most people who come to this country just want a better life and a healthier future for their children, so if they can become legal, tax-paying, law-abiding citizens, then why make it difficult for them?

    July 2, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
  14. Molly

    I'm a person of faith, but I don't see the need for Obama to play footsie with the Moral Majority. Having pastors involved smacks of a publicity stunt to me.

    July 2, 2010 at 1:16 pm |
  15. CPArockstar

    Great idea! Lets do the same with the abortion issue!

    July 2, 2010 at 12:10 pm |
  16. Valli S

    Agreed, Joel W. Do we have to have "reform" in order to enforce the law already on the books? Just enforce the bloody law! AND – please understand the distinction between immigrants and ILLEGAL immigrants!

    July 2, 2010 at 11:05 am |
  17. Michael Schulze

    Of course religion is a crock, and while I immediately loose respect for those who conform to it (especially the Western Religions), a large portion of voters are influenced by it. It's very disheartening... I hope that our president is only pretending, as I really like the guy.

    July 2, 2010 at 8:30 am |
    • McCluck

      no kidding...Can we please let clearly thinking people make the decisions around here? People who forgo logic dont deserve a say so in my book.

      July 2, 2010 at 10:27 am |
  18. Noble9

    What value do evangelical ministers provide to the world? They just seem to be con men who do a song and dance and get people to send them money.

    July 2, 2010 at 8:05 am |
    • GodIsForImbeciles

      Exactly. Con men who spew lies and childish fairy tales for suckers. And our country is infested with them like lice on roadkill.

      July 3, 2010 at 5:54 am |
  19. BeSensible

    Church and Religion are BIG BUSINESS. And like any big business they are seeking to protect themselves and their companies. This is especially true of the Catholic church whoalso have been pushing very hard for amnesty for the illegals. The Hispanic population as a whole is very religious. Point of fact, there are more Hispanic Catholics than any other ethnic group. So with all this being said and business being business, Obama got this group together because he wants the votes and the religions want the money of the contributions and attendance. Again, especially the Cathloics whose flock in the U.S. has gone away and off the cliff like lemmings. I wish there was more to it than that but there really isn't.

    July 2, 2010 at 7:54 am |
  20. ybs

    The 4 w a n k e r s!

    July 2, 2010 at 6:08 am |
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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.