Christians on the political left often advocate for additional Federal spending as part of bringing God’s shalom to the world, and Christians on the right often, contrary to how scripture uses the term gospel and salvation, disconnect the gospel from any temporal and embodied forms of salvation. But an issue of justice crying out in the current culture is rallying both the left and the right in God’s Kingdom to work together, and the electoral defeat of Mitt Romney may have provided the necessary impetus for apathetic members of Congress to get on board.
Over at The Evangelical Immigration Table you can view of long list of Evangelical scholars, pastors, CEOs of non-profit organizations, heads of denominations, leaders in business and presidents of academic institutions that have prepared and signed a statement, calling for Congressional action on the issue of immigration reform.
Looking through the list you will see familiar conservative figures and institutions such as Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals, William J. Hamel, President, Evangelical Free Church of America, Jim Daly, President and CEO, Focus on the Family, Ed Stetzer, President, Lifeway Research, Danny Akin, President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Philip Ryken, President, Wheaton College, Craig Williford, President, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Crawford Loritts, Senior Pastor, Fellowship Bible Church (Roswell, GA).
There are rather notable names associated with the Evangelical left on the list such as Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners, Gary Walter, President of The Evangelical Covenant Church, and Richard J. Mouw, President, Fuller Theological Seminary.
This fairly impressive list of signatories are united around a call for Congressional action this year on the issue of immigration reform. With the left gearing up for a fight over guns and the right gearing up for a fight over money, these Evangelical leaders are summoning the Evangelical grassroots to ask our national leaders to fix an unjust system that was brought about largely through our leaders inability to act. They have put forth a statement of principles that underly their call for legislative action. They state:
Our national immigration laws have created a moral, economic and political crisis in America. Initiatives to remedy this crisis have led to polarization and name calling in which opponents have misrepresented each other’s positions as open borders and amnesty versus deportations of millions. This false choice has led to an unacceptable political stalemate at the federal level at a tragic human cost.
As evangelical Christian leaders, we call for a bipartisan solution on immigration that:
- Respects the God-given dignity of every person
- Protects the unity of the immediate family
- Respects the rule of law
- Guarantees secure national borders
- Ensures fairness to taxpayers
- Establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents
We urge our nation’s leaders to work together with the American people to pass immigration reform that embodies these key principles and that will make our nation proud.
These leaders are working together in the interests of the least among us in the name of the triune God that came to deliver shalom to all the nations. The current state of our immigration laws make it rather difficult for our churches to engage in mission to a large portion of the hispanic community and honor Caesar’s law. Can you imagine serving the illegal immigrant population as part of the gospel mission with a mindset that essentially says, “I don’t think you should be in my country, and I think my government should deport you, leaving your American born children behind. However, since you are here now, can I offer you bread and the gospel?” Fail.
Our laws are filled with such hypocrisy that they have produced an unjust situation. On the one side we continue the effort to keep Mexican citizens from illegally crossing the border (which is obviously needed given the wild, wild west nature of some American towns living on the Mexican border), but we have largely ignored our employment laws with a “wink-wink, nod-nod” approach. We have said both yes and no to Mexican citizens, inviting this problem upon ourselves. We have said please don’t come here, but if you do you are free to work the jobs we don’t want because they pay so little and offer no additional benefits. That’s exploitive. That is unjust.
What might make a comprehensive immigration reform bill possible this year is the shellacking Mitt Romney took among Hispanic voters. The Senate is traditionally a moderate institution, so it is the Republican led House that is more prone to passions, ideology and intransigence. By the way, these institutional characteristics were Constitutionally designed and do not reflect some fundamental brokenness in the system. Anyway, if a bill is to pass Congress, House Republicans and House Democrats have tough work load ahead of them, but the 2012 election results may provide the pragmatic impetus for compromise on this issue.
While we wait for Congressional leaders to act, you and your church can participate in this growing grass roots movement and advocate for justice. You and your church leaders can go to the site to become signatories, providing evidence to members of Congress that this issue, more that any other, is of importance to the people. You can download their digital bookmark, print it and distribute. The bookmark contains 40 days of scriptural passages that touch on the theme of justice for the sojourner and foreigner among you. You can print multiple copies for people in your church to help raise awareness and activism on this issue.