August 16th, 2011
12:38 PM ET

Alabama church leaders enter immigration law fray

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - The latest voice in the debate over Alabama's tough new anti-illegal immigration law - considered the most restrictive in the nation - comes not from the usual activists but from a more traditionally conservative group: church leaders.

Leaders from the Episcopal, Methodist and Catholic churches of Alabama sued the state's governor, its attorney general and a district attorney this month over the law, which is to go into effect September 1.

One of the plaintiffs, Episcopal Bishop Henry Parsley Jr., said Tuesday that religious leaders were worried over a provision in the law that will make transporting or harboring unauthorized immigrants a crime.

"The Bible is clear that we are supposed to love the stranger and welcome the aliens," Parsley said. "And we feel that this law could make some of our ministries criminal activities."

Supporters of the law say it is ludicrous to imagine that a religious leader or church member would be arrested for giving a hand to those in the country illegally.

But the lawsuit states that the law is vague and does not make it clear what activities fall under the scope of the restrictions.

According to the lawsuit, "churches will perpetrate crimes by knowingly providing food, clothing, shelter and transportation to those in need without first ensuring compliance with the stipulations of the anti-immigration law. Moreover, the ministry of the churches, by providing such services to known undocumented persons, is criminalized under this law."

Another argument the church leaders make is that if compliance with the law means ascertaining people's immigration status, it would represent an infringement of their rights.

"We feel it would interfere with our freedom of expression, of our faith, and living our faith and caring for others," Parsley said.

Parsley was joined in the suit by Methodist Bishop William Willimon and two Catholic leaders, Archbishop Thomas Rodi and Bishop Robert Baker.

"I'm afraid this is a phony issue," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which supports the law.

"The opponents of enforcing immigration law and supporters of amnesty for illegal immigrants are using this as an emotional issue, raising this phony idea that a nun ladling out soup to an illegal alien is going to be wrestled to the ground by a SWAT team," he said.

No one, including the plaintiffs, believes that a priest or nun would be arrested for carrying out their religious duties, he said.

Human smugglers are the target of the provisions on transporting and harboring unauthorized immigrants, not the clergy, Krikorian said.

Citing the Bible to argue against the law "is a pernicious use of scripture," he said.

Indeed, the lawsuit cites scripture to make its point.

"If enforced, the law will place Alabama church members in the untenable position of verifying individuals' immigration documentation before being able to follow God's word to 'love thy neighbor as thyself,' " the lawsuit states.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Alabama • Catholic Church • Christianity

soundoff (407 Responses)
  1. Angelika

    i ran XC for 2 many years and i utilized adaids both years, just make certain they're light weight but not as well flimsy because some courses are very tough.

    March 4, 2012 at 4:38 am |
  2. Kensuke

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    March 2, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  3. Otokabe

    I'm in!I need a mental lcahlenge that isnt too challenging. This might fit that bill. Whoo!(and blogger isnt taking my comments; trying again from my old blogger account)

    March 2, 2012 at 10:05 am |
  4. dqbsqhkgjar

    ORCiGE ssafuucqwats

    December 23, 2011 at 10:06 am |
  5. dihthj

    fOkkw3 cmhsbakepqur

    December 22, 2011 at 6:12 am |
  6. Keyaan

    I\'m impressed! You\'ve managed the alosmt impossible.

    December 21, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
  7. NYLS

    New York Law School's legal reporting blog, Legal as She is Spoke, recently published a story based on this article:


    Check it out!

    September 19, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  8. bumgahdna

    Separation of church and state.

    It amazes me how controversial this is, especially seeing how Hoover and two other presidents have already ousted millions of immigrants. They break laws, take jobs, and decrease the quality of American life. They should be removed. Period

    August 30, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  9. John

    These leaders of the church are a digrace to beleivers of God. The catholic churches are also the ones who support gay marriage when God CLEARLY speaks out against it. Yes God wants us to treat others with repsect and love. Welcome the aliens ? Where is that found ? Even if the Bible says that, God also wants us to follow the laws of man, whether we like them or not. We can welcome the legal alien. We can help the aliens of other countries by supporting them in war or sending money or food releif, etc, etc.

    August 23, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
  10. Pylar

    Just as Alabamians should not turn their state over to illegal immigrants, members of Alabama's churches should not turn their church over to them. If your pastor is one who encourages and supports illegal activities, STAND UP AND TAKE YOUR CHURCH BACK. Fire the pastor, or withhold your financial support; just take a stand and do whatever it takes to have your church reflect YOUR values and those of your church community. Pastors are hired and serve as the pleasure of the church. They are not God with superior knowledge that thwarts the will of the people of this state.

    August 18, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  11. wwajdblogger

    Thanks to HB 56, the State of Alabama can now take over the undesirable job of policing illegal immigration, a job the federal government won't do. At the same time, thanks to HB 56, illegal people in Alabama can not take over low paying undesirable jobs that legal people don't want to do. It all makes perfect American Jesus sense.


    August 17, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • miquel

      How many migrants does it take to remit $21 billion a year
      back to Mexico?

      14,000,000 illegals sending home $1,500 a year

      10,000,000 illegals sending home $2,100 a year

      5,000,000 illegals sending home $4,200 a year

      Did they undercount how many Illegals here?

      "Illegal alien households are estimated to use $2,700 a year more
      in services than they pay in taxes, creating a total fiscal
      burden of nearly $10.4 billion on the federal budget in 2002."

      "A May 28, 2004 study by Bendixen & Associates found that legal
      and illegal immigrants send a total of $30 billion to their home
      countries on an annual basis. Mexico receives $13.3 billion a year.
      The largest amount in remittances ($9.6 billion) is sent from
      California, followed by New York ($3.6 billion), Texas
      ($3.2 billion) and Florida ($2.5 billion). Of those surveyed by
      the study, 24% were Latin American-born U.S. citizens, 39% were
      legal residents, and 32% were illegal aliens. Sixty-one per cent
      of those surveyed send remittances overseas at least once a month.
      A typical remittance is between $150 and $250."

      August 17, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
  12. Reality

    From p. 8:

    If we would cut our own grass, do our own landscaping, pick our own vegetables/fruit, cook our own food, clean our own laundary, care for own kids and clean our homes and churches/temples ourselves, there would be no need for Mexican, Haitian, Irish, Italian and/or Asian "slaves" and therefore there would be no illegal immigration.

    August 17, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  13. Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics


    The Christian Church does the most compassionate things for all humanity. Everywhere throughout the history. Mankind learned to value every human life from the Christian Church, no other.

    Adelina time to take your meds dear.
    Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that makes it difficult to tell the difference between real and unreal experiences, to think logically, to have normal emotional responses, and to behave normally in social situations.
    As the illness continues, psychotic symptoms develop:
    • False beliefs or thoughts that are not based in reality (delusions)
    • Hearing, seeing, or feeling things that are not there (hallucinations)

    August 17, 2011 at 12:50 pm |

    TAX THE CHURCHES! This lawsuit is just a ploy to once again exempt religion from the law!

    August 17, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • miquel

      "I am a Medical Social Worker at a hospital in S Texas and I can state
      that in my 12 years here tens of thousands of illegal alien women have
      come through here in labor and deliver the child. mom is very happy and
      asks about food stamps, WIC, Section 8 Housing, and TANIFF. Much to my
      disgust I have to link her up and she gets the next housing unit due to
      being a single parent with newborn, wheres the Father? this knocks anyone else on the list
      down and these would be Americans who are old, disabled and so on who
      may be on the list for years. The childs Social Security number is used
      by mom and that in itself is a crime. mom gets on behalf of the now
      citizen child roughly $700 in welfare, not including the free to maybe
      $20.00 a month arpartment or house. The hospital bill of course goes
      unpaid by the illegal alien, Texas taxpayers get to pick that tab up.
      As a licensed professional I am obligated to report crimes so I report
      everything to Immigration Services who rarely have done anything.
      Last year alone this cost our hospitals and Texas taxpayers just under
      $221,452,119.09 according to our accounting/billing department
      statements and that is just for labor and delivery and does not
      include other hospital services."
      The Supreme Court heard the arguement over 100 years ago regarding
      borthright citizenship and ruled it is correct if the parent is
      legally employed and residing in the country, otherwise the child
      born is not a citizen. An illegal alien is nneither employed nor
      residing here legally so there should be no birthright citizenship
      for their Jackpot/Anchor Babies.

      August 17, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
  15. Frankly Speaking..


    looks like you have been blinded by your faith, time to open your eyes dear..

    August 17, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • Faith

      Americans are brain-less barbarians if they did not have the Christian churches. Look at your own nation now. De-christianized Americans have no honor, no morals, or no manners. Just greed and lust. Wake up. You church-bashers are plain villains. Know yourself.

      August 17, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
  16. Andrew

    Aiding and abeting Inhumanity is worse.

    August 17, 2011 at 9:16 am |
  17. anita

    Hello dearest, my name is ms anita.
    Nice to meet and hope to make a wonderful friendship with you because i
    Hope we shall also meet in Heaven Where friendship never ends.so therefore write to me [ anitadeby79@yahoo.co.uk] more about your hobbies directly because i have something very very important and fundamental to share with you and also i will send you my photos, also i strongly believe that A precious friend is hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget.” thanks once again and waiting for your soonest reply
    kiss from [ anitadeby79@yahoo.co.uk ] hug for Love.

    August 17, 2011 at 7:58 am |
  18. AGuest9

    Aiding and abetting law-breakers IS criminal.

    August 17, 2011 at 7:16 am |
  19. Faith

    The Christian Church does the most compassionate things for all humanity. Everywhere throughout the history. Mankind learned to value every human life from the Christian Church, no other.

    August 17, 2011 at 12:57 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      What sort of historical timeline are you talking about here? Mankind, aka Ho-mo sapiens, have been kicking around on this planet for 200,000 years. Are you saying we didn't know the value of human life for 198,000 years? Ohhhh the humanity!! Those dam-ned dirty apes!!!

      August 17, 2011 at 1:41 am |
    • Frankly Speaking..

      Are you referring to the witch-hunt in 13th century or the crusades in 15th century or the persecutions throughout church history ? Anyways, I concur pretty good cleanup there..

      August 17, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • Hal

      Crusades, Inquisitions, pogroms, the Holocaust. Check your church history

      August 17, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • Faith

      The contribution and rescue works done by the Christian Church world-wide for 2,000 years is simply overwhelming. The Church fed, healed and educated the most of the human population on Planet Earth. Catholics in wrong stages killed far more number of true Christians who tried to read the Bible. Witches and cults were too few comparing to the number of Christians killed by the wrong Catholics. Nazis and atheists who did a billion massacre last century were all taken down by the Christians and Christian Americans.

      August 17, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
  20. Awkward Situations

    Shocking! Law beats bible when it comes to illegal immigrants? How convenient.

    Everything else – establishment clause, creationism in schools, gay marriage, and so on – bible beats law! Right?

    Must be nice to be a flip-flopping jesus fish. It's so easy to identify the personal convictions and feelings a religious person holds when they start quoting (in this case) jesus or the bible.

    Why don't you tell us how you really feel without your imaginary source of authority behind you to support your hypocrisy?

    August 17, 2011 at 12:06 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.