Monday, July 19, 2010
The Gospel of Immigration Reform
My message to Republican leaders is if you’re anti-immigration reform, you’re anti-Latino, and if you’re anti-Latino, you are anti-Christian church in America, and you are anti-evangelical.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, the president of the evangelical National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
Today's New York Times had a front-page article on the current trend of prominent Evangelical leaders joining forces with (are you sitting down?) Democrats to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform: a path to citizenship that would allow illegal immigrants to register with the government, pay a fine, undergo a background check, prove they can speak English and only then get in line to apply for permanent legal residency. The NY Times article focuses on pragmatic reasons for Evangelicals to support immigration: the growing Latino population in the US and a socially conservative likemindedness with the Latino population (a lot of similiarity on the abortion and same-sex marriage issues). Here are 10 real reasons why Evangelicals should consider an immigration overhaul a vitally faithful political priority.
NOTE: Evangelicals are "officially" Christians who emphasize 4 key tenets of the faith: (1) the salvific meaning of the death of Christ; (2) the need for each individual to have a conversion experience; (3) the call to "preach the gospel" (in word and deed); and (4) the authority of the Bible as God's Word. Evangelicals are usually easy to identify by these markings, as well as their tendency to refer to themselves as "just Christian" or "non-denominational Christian." Of course, Evangelical Christians have overwhelmingly voted Republican in the past 30 years.
1. Because God demanded that Israel care for the "resident alien" in the Promised Land (Leviticus 19)
2. Because being "like Jesus" is advocating for the welfare and dignity of the marginalized and overlooked (throughout the Gospels)
3. Because the hard work, industriousness and family values of immigrant families is an important model for our children.
4. Because undocumented workers do jobs that Americans simply will not do for $7.50 an hour.
5. Because Jesus was an immigrant when his family fled Palestine in his youth (Matthew 2).
6. Because all Christ-followers are called to do what it takes to care for the needs of "the least of these"...and undocumented workers definitely qualify as "the least of these" (Matthew 25).
7. Because "amnesty" will keep families together.
8. Because "amnesty" will result in a net positive benefit to American households.
9. Because American & Mexican economic policies have largely led to the desperate move north for these immigrants.
10. Because Christians pledge allegiance to the "kingdom of God" before allegiance to nation, party or race.
*11. (a bonus): And because Jesus is the "Good Coyote" who brings us into God's Reign against the law at no charge and at baptism, we proclaim that we are all equally "wetback" strangers and aliens to this world.
*This last one comes courtesy of Bob Ekblad's wonderful book Reading The Bible With The Damned (2005).