Evangelicals on Immigration: finally doing something right.


barbed-liberty-flag-wallLast Thursday, after so much grueling debate and a tough amendments process, the Senate passed a comprehensive Immigration Reform bill. Now the bill moves from the grown-ups to the children in the Legislature, the House of Representatives, where Republicans are already playing politics with the issue, most likely thinking it will just magically “go away” like other reform attempts have.

But, the New York Times published a great article about how the pressures on the House are different this time. It was really encouraging.

The encouragement did not just come from Immigration Reform’s potential, but where Evangelicals have found themselves in the debate. In the article, there were these amazing lines:

Asked why he thought the overhaul had a fighting chance in the House, Ali Noorani, a veteran of many immigration wars, pointed to a big green mobile billboard that had circled Capitol Hill every day this week.

Its flashing message was “Praying for immigrants. Praying for Congress.” Groups of evangelical Christians prayed on the Capitol lawn for the Senate to pass its bill. Mr. Noorani’s group, the National Immigration Forum, has worked with Southern Baptists and other large evangelical denominations to coordinate prayer campaigns and run pro-overhaul spots on Christian radio stations in states where lawmakers might be persuaded to change their views.

“In 2007, we weren’t even on the radar,” said the Rev. Samuel Rodríguez, the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, an evangelical group. Mr. Rodríguez said he had been on the road continuously, addressing primarily non-Hispanic Christian conferences to spread the message on the overhaul.

Now, you may be an Evangelical and may be thinking “hey, I don’t agree with that bill!”. That’s not really my point. Evangelicalism has never been as monolithic or homogenous as many of its leaders have wanted it to be. I am under no illusion that all (or even most) Evangelicals find themselves actually agreeing with the Senate reform plan.

What’s more astonishing to me is that regardless of the nuances and complexities of thought among Evangelicals on this issue, this is the reputation Evangelicals are having in this discussionThis is what the wider world sees. This is what has been noted in America’s paper of record as the primary takeaway that the world needs to have when fitting in the force of Evangelicalism and Christianity into the broader narrative of this story.

Of the many forces this article talks about that push this discussion forward (religious, electoral, business, labour, etc.), I love that American Christians have the pride of place here as the first “force” listed.

For once, Evangelicals are being known for taking the lead in actual cultural change and not stalwart reactiveness to the force around them.

Yes, I know there are other potential factors: many Evangelicals might be more concerned with maintaining Republican dominance by “winning Hispanic votes” through this effort. Some may be reacting to their own demographic changes in the South, instead of their own heart and theological changes.

But still, it’s telling that none of these alternative narratives are offered in this piece.

I am certainly not one of those Christian twentysomethings that think that theological convictions have no place in one’s political beliefs, nor do I think that “laws” are inherently morally-neutral. All politics and legislation reflects one’s morality (just look at a nation’s wallet to see where their heart is) and, ultimately, their theological convictions. For once, I’m proud of American Christians as they interact politically on this issue.

As Christians, we are called to love Neighbor before Nation. Whatever “damage” you think these poor, marginalized people do to America economically, politically, or demographically, we are called to have more concern for their welfare than the welfare of the abstract idea of “our country”.

That’s not to say that illegal immigrants are not “breaking laws”, but as Christians we are not called to primarily relate to others based how obedient they have been to civil authorities or not. The main thing that dictates how we relate to them is the image of God in which they are made. And this has been sorely lacking in the Evangelical presence in this discussion.

There are few–if any–illegal immigrants that come to this nation with any malice in their heart or hostility in their intentions. At the very least, they deserve compassion before condemnation–especially from Christians. Even if you ultimately think they should legally be carted away, should not the first concern of Christians be to love them? Or at least not demonize them?

Illegal immigrants in America are some of the closest we’ll ever get to a single group that fits almost every criteria for those to whom Christian should offer support, deference, protection, and resources: the outcast, foreigner, poor, needy, alien, outsider, downtrodden, despised, and poor in spirit.

Supporting immigration reform is the easiest way that I can think of, in our current political situation, for Christians to follow-through with this oft-neglected dynamic of Christian faith. It’s one of the clearest ways that Christians can act “Christianly” in a direct, political way.

So learn about the bill, contact your representatives, and then pray for our leaders and those who will be most affected by their actions. And then go out and try love your neighbor some.

What do you think about the immigration bill? How does your faith guide this decision? How do you feel about Christians being known for this advocacy?

[image: “Barbed Liberty” by myself]

I sort of want this health care bill to die.


[graphic design by kilroyart]

UPDATE: more thoughts on Health Care and the Health Care Summit that occurred in February 2010 can be found here.

[You can read more of my recent thoughts on health care over at Reform & Revive Magazine in an article entitled “Explaining Health Care Reform and ‘Christian’ Reflections Thereof“]

I think I really want to see this whole health care thing goes down in flames.

This came as a shock to me today as I greedily consumed as much news as I could concerning the Massachusetts Senate race. Something in me sort of stirred joyfully at the thought of all of this collapsing. This really surprised me at first, but upon further reflection I began to see why I felt this way.

First off, the emotional argument. I have been having frustrations and angst over our lack of control as Americans. I wrote about some of this back in July. At the time, I was focusing more on Capitalism and corporate greed, but the same definitely goes for the government. Politicians are supposed to work for us. We are not called to serve their whims which they decide on our behalves. They are supposed to be our employees and civil servants, not our elected managers. As of yesterday, the latest Rasmussen Report finds that only 38% of Americans are in favor of the health care bill, and 56% oppose it outright. In my mind, I’m forced to ask — why are we still having this discussion then? Democrats made their pitch, the people don’t like it as it is. Either change it or drop it.

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My Official Review of “Fearless” by Max Lucado at Reform & Revive


Look at that face.  That’s Max Lucado.  And I just reviewed his new book Fearless.  You can find the review here at Reform & Revive.  Some of you may have read my “Review Preview” and now are wondering why on earth I’m putting up this little post, just to send people somewhere else for the review.

Well, that “Review Preview” got a lot of hits due to search engine traffic.  That means that this site will appear sooner in a search for the book than will Reform & Revive.  But, seeing as reviews of this sort are much more in line with the mission and purpose of R&R, rather than that of this bog, I thought it was more appropriately posted there, and not on this blog.  So, I’m putting up this post on the off chance someone meanders here due to a search engine.  So, if you have fallen victim to such an off-chance, you can find the review at my webzine, Reform & Revive, found at the link below:

http://reformandrevive.com/2009/09/08/review-fearless-by-max-lucado/

By the way, for those that have stopped by for the next part of my Beauty series, you will find the next installment here tomorrow.  Probably.  Well, technically, my review of John Navone’s book Toward a Theology of Beauty counted as the “next installment”, but I’ll write another tomorrow.

“bright as yellow” by David Schrott | Reform & Revive


One of my best friends and favorite writers (and photographers), David Schrott has finally broken his writer’s block to write another gem for the magazine.  So head on over to Reform & Revive and enjoy his prose and honesty.
Here’s the link to the article:

http://reformandrevive.com/2009/08/04/bright-as-yellow/

Remember to leave comments and send this link along to others!  Also remember that we’re always looking for submissions to the site so feel free to get in touch with me if you have any ideas.

“WTFWJD? | (on Christian cursing)”-Reform & Revive


"Andrew Murray" by Amy Roberts

"Andrew Murray" by Amy Roberts

Just wanted to drop a quick plug for a new article I posted yesterday in the online magazine I run, Reform & Revive.  The article is on the topic of Christians that curse and explores the issues that surround it.  It’s received some really good, really helpful feedback and comments, so I wanted to post something here as well letting people know about it so they can join in on the conversation.

Remember to leave comments and retweet.

Here’s the link:

http://reformandrevive.com/2009/07/28/wtfwjd-on-christian-cursing/

Also, if you want to write for Reform & Revive, you can either get in touch with me here or use this form.  We are always looking for more content and new ideas for the site.

You can find more art from Amy Roberts here.

“Independence Day?” by B.Rayshawn Graves – Reform & Revive


B.Rayshawn Graves, a Guest Contributor his way to becoming a regular on Reform & Revive just posted a new article.  He originally called it “Decision Day” but I renamed it “Independence Day?” for obvious American calendrical reasons.

The article contains a quote and some of Graves’ thoughts on the balance between God’s Sovereignty and our free will.  Here’s the article:

http://reformandrevive.com/2009/07/02/independence-day/