July 21, 2006

A diverse group of religious leaders convened last week to discuss the religious implications of immigration policy and how to better include that perspective in the public debate.  Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), attending the conference, stated that, “I don’t think there’s a theological perspective” being effectively brought into discussions about pending immigration legislation.  “That’s not in the debate.”  While Catholics, Jews, and mainstream Protestant groups have actively supported comprehensive immigration reform throughout the debate, evangelical groups who usually play significant roles and have loud voices on issues of morality–Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, etc.–have been almost completely silent on this issue.  A search of the Focus on the Family website and its “values voters” public policy section Citizenlink.org reveals that the organization fails to even recognize immigration as an important social issue.  According to a Family Research Council survey of so-called “values voters,” “judicial activism” ranked as a more pressing moral issue than the treatment of the 12 million undocumented persons living among us.  Ninety percent of the respondents stated that undocumented immigrants should be arrested and returned to their country of origin rather than welcomed “as strangers seeking a better life for themselves and their families.”  Fifty-nine percent of the “values voters” supported a border wall between Mexico and the U.S.  Richard Land, speaker from the Southern Baptist denomination, attended last week’s conference and stated that, “We [Christians] are of two kingdoms, a kingdom of God and a kingdom of man.”  In my mind, how we approach the immigration debate is a telling indicator of which of the two we are more firmly planted.