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New Immigration Ad Campaign: We’re Praying for You, Speaker Boehner

*TO LISTEN TO A RECORDING OF TODAY’S CALL, PLEASE CLICK HERE.*

WASHINGTON, D.C., DECEMBER 5, 2013 — On a press call this morning, local pastors and the president of the National Association of Evangelicals announced a new round of immigration ad buys to emphasize prayers and support for Speaker John Boehner and other House leaders.

In Washington, D.C., a front-page, wraparound ad appeared today in the Express newspaper and radio ads will air on WTOP. Ads featuring the local pastors on today’s call are running on more than 30 Christian radio stations throughout North Carolina and the Dallas-Fort Worth area over the next week, and a Spanish-language ad will air in Orange County, Calif. The effort builds on the successful Pray for Reform campaign, which includes nearly 200,000 prayer partners, and it puts the Evangelical Immigration Table’s total paid media efforts over $1 million.

The following quotes can be attributed to participants in today’s call:

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals:
“The prayers and support for immigration reform are rapidly growing among evangelical Christians across America. There is broad consensus that our immigration system can’t stay the way it is and needs to change. Good proposals date back to President Bush and previous sessions of Congress and now come to President Obama and the current Congress. It’s time to move from talking to acting on comprehensive immigration reform.”

Pastor Hector Hermosillo, Pastor, Semilla@Eastside, Eastside Christian Church, Anaheim, Calif.:
“The fastest-growing churches in our country today are those composed of first-generation immigrants, many of them undocumented. In my opinion, helping so that they have the freedom to express their faith, their service and their loyalty to this country through smart and humane immigration reform is a source of hope for our country.”

Pastor Dub Karriker, Senior Pastor, Christian Assembly Church, Durham, N.C.:
“I’m part of Durham Ministers In Prayer, a group representing 40 evangelical churches — black, white, Asian and Latino — that meet weekly to pray for our city, state and nation. We’ve been praying for many years for the Speaker and House Leadership. Now I hope and I trust that they will listen to the prayers of so many of their brothers and sisters in Christ who are crying out to God to fix this broken immigration system.”

Pastor Roger Raymer, Senior Pastor, Lake Ridge Bible Church, Mesquite, Texas:
“The Bible has much to say about God’s people’s responsibility to care for the immigrant and the stranger. Especially, at this time of year, we are reminded in Matthew Chapter 2 that Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus, less than two years old at the time, fled to Egypt to escape Herod’s plot to kill the Christ child. We don’t often think of the Holy Family as immigrants but in fact for a time they were.”

Join the conversation on Twitter using #Pray4Reform.

Evangelical Leaders Meet with Obama, Biden on Immigration Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C., NOVEMBER 13, 2013 — In an Oval Office meeting today with President Obama and Vice President Biden, evangelical and other faith leaders reiterated their support for broad immigration reform that transcends politics.

The meeting took place amid the Evangelical Immigration Table’s ongoing #Pray4Reform campaign. In addition, Russell Moore, President of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, will join law enforcement, business and other faith leaders at 10 a.m. Thursday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for an Americans for Reform press conference.

The following are quotes from evangelical participants in today’s White House meeting:

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals:
“The call for immigration reform is growing louder. The list of advocates is growing longer —from President Bush to President Obama, from Democrats to Republicans, and from business leaders to police officers to evangelical Christians.”

Dr. Joel C. Hunter, Senior Pastor, Northland – A Church Distributed, Orlando, Fla.:
“The meeting in the Oval Office was not about partisan politics; it was about the urgent need and moral mandate to help these families that are rooted in our churches and communities. Immigration reform will pass one day. There are the votes to pass it in some form now. The leaders that gathered are enthusiastic about providing support to those who could get it done in the near future.”

Mike McClenahan, Senior Pastor, Solana Beach Presbyterian Church, Solana Beach, Calif.:
“I was honored to have the opportunity to share the story of our church and the relationships that compel me to be involved in the immigration reform conversation. I was compelled to be here not because I’m a politician or an immigration expert but as a pastor who is committed to the relationships within our church. The leadership of our church is committed to seeing immigration reform happen, and we want to contribute to the conversation in whatever way we can. This isn’t a political issue, this is a moral and biblical issue.”

Russell Moore, President, Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission:
“I am grateful to the president and the vice president for taking time to listen and dialogue on an issue of concern to many of us. My message to the president is that there are many things that divide us as a country, but on this issue we have a remarkable consensus that the system is broken and the government isn’t doing its job to keep the border secure, to shore up the economic health of the country, and to keep track of who is and isn’t legally here. I urge the president and the Congress to work together to fix the system in a way that honors the rule of law and finds a way for those who’ve broken the law to make things right. I think we can do that, and now’s the time. There are a number of ways we can do this, and I am for every good suggestion, but the same-old, same-old political gamesmanship isn’t an option.”

Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:
“I was glad for the opportunity to express the urgency the evangelical community feels around immigration reform. It was important to express our ongoing commitment to a bipartisan solution. We hope that our legislators continue to hear our prayers and listen to their constituents, who overwhelmingly favor commonsense immigration reform. It benefits the economy and is the right thing to do.”

Rev. Jim Wallis, President, Sojourners:
“The president assured us that commitment to families would come before politics in this ongoing work for immigration reform. As faith leaders, we know the urgency and the human cost of our broken and system and are committed to working and praying until reform passes.”

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 The Evangelical Immigration Table is a broad coalition of evangelical organizations and leaders advocating for immigration reform consistent with biblical values.

 

PRESS RELEASE: Evangelical Christians Join More Than 600 Conservative Leaders in Washington to Push for Immigration Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C., OCTOBER 29, 2013 — As Congress returns its attention to immigration reform, evangelical leaders from across the country are joining more than 600 conservative law enforcement and business leaders in Washington, D.C. today to deliver a unified message that Congress must move forward on immigration reform.

These leaders are meeting in the nation’s capital for “Americans for Reform: Immigration Reform for our Economy, Faith and Security,” an event hosted by the Partnership for a New American Economy, the Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform network, FWD.us and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Coming off of a week of more than 400 large events and small gatherings during “Pray4Reform: Gathered Together in Jesus’ Name,” these evangelical leaders are continuing the Evangelical Immigration Table’s Pray for Reform campaign. They are asking members of Congress to support reform for the sake of our nation’s economy, security and moral integrity — and to take action this year.

The following are quotes from participants in the October 29 fly-in:

Dr. Barrett Duke, Vice President for Public Policy and Research, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
“The House of Representatives has already made good progress toward reforming our country’s broken immigration system. It is within their reach to finish what they started. I am praying that the God who loves the stranger will empower them to accomplish this task.”

Rev. Gabriel Salguero, Pastor, The Lamb’s Church; President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC):
“The time has come to resolve the immigration challenges in our country. Evangelicals from every walk of life are looking for real solutions that respect the rule of law and make moral and economic sense. The evangelical community is glad to be part of this broad constituency of Bibles, badges, and business who believe in common sense immigration reform.”

Samuel Alemán, Pastor, First Spanish Baptist Church of Atlanta, Ga.:
“I am going to Washington, D.C., because I want to be heard as a Christian and an American citizen. On the immigration issue there is a definite biblical position, and it is important for me to share it. I want legislators to know that when a country welcomes people to work, buy houses, educate their children, incorporate their businesses and do other things legally, it has the obligation to provide a way for them of resolve the legal issue of immigration with a law that respects their human and family rights.”

Pastor Danny Garrido, The Crossing Church, Colorado Springs, Colo.:
“As a pastor in Colorado Springs who works with immigrants, I believe there are three reasons that we should promote immigration reform. First, family is the most important part of our society; if we separate the family we weaken our country, values, and economic system. Second, we are trying to present some Biblical alternatives for social and justice problems so the government can focus on other issues in our country. Third, political discrepancies have been putting this issue under the carpet for such a long time; consequently, today immigration issues look like a ‘seven-headed monster’ when the reality is not like that. I think as Christians we can present an alternative that includes justice, freedom and entrepreneurship.”

Pastor John Gil, Youth Pastor, Victory Christian Church, Tulsa, Okla.:
“Immigration reform must happen now. In order for the next generation to succeed, the families and parents of this generation need citizenship today. This one decision will benefit the cities, states, and country as a whole.”

Jeremy Hudson, Fellowship Christian Church, Pastor Spring Hill Campus, Springfield, Ohio:
“I want my congressman to know that the current system is failing, namely in the way that it breaks apart families and fails to treat people with the basic respect and human dignity they deserve. I want to encourage Congress to put politics aside and pass legislation that provides both safety and relief for our citizens and our guests. Jesus calls us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, and our current system falls woefully short. I’m praying for a change and praying that it comes quickly.”

Rev. Mark Milkamp, Open Hearts Community Church, Reformed Church in America, Wyoming, Mich.:
“Our mission as followers of Jesus is not merely one of seeking the personal salvation of others, but we also play an active role in the advancement of God’s redemption into every square inch of creation, especially God’s intentions of justice. The gospel is primarily concerned with justice. The laws and systems in place in our nation concerning immigration are outdated, inhibit economic growth, strip human dignity. This is one issue that nearly all parties involved realize the need to reform. I hope in some small humble way to be a part of this much needed movement.”

Pastor Tim C. Moore, Senior Pastor, Walk Worthy Baptist Church, Austin, Texas:
“The need for immigration reform must be talked about in terms of those who cross and those who hire. Both are huge problems. But no party or government can stop the flow of civilization that marches to the desire of a better and more productive way of life. Our nation’s past was built on that march. Our best future will be a continued embrace of that march. It’s now time for immigration reform!”

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Americans for Reform Sponsors: American Farm Bureau Federation – TechNet – Wal-Mart – Western Growers Association
Conveners: Americans for Tax Reform – Bipartisan Policy Center – Bread for the World – Christian Community Development Association – Consumer Electronics Association – Engine Advocacy – Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention – ImmigrationWorksUSA – Liberty Counsel Action – Marriott International – McDonald’s – Microsoft – National Association of Evangelicals – National Association of Manufacturers – National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference – National Latino Evangelical Coalition – National Restaurant Association – Republicans for Immigration Reform – Sojourners – United States Conference of Catholic Bishops – U.S. Travel Association – World Relief

Letter to House of Representatives: ‘The Time Has Come to Fix Our Broken Immigration System’

WASHINGTON, D.C., OCTOBER 22, 2013 — With debt and budget debates settled for the moment, the Evangelical Immigration Table today sent a letter to Congress urging action on immigration reform this fall.

The letter to each member of the House of Representatives praises the work of two House committees on individual bills to address our broken immigration system, and it encourages bipartisan cooperation around commonsense reform that adheres to the Evangelical Immigration Table’s principles.

The letter comes as a week of events, “Pray4Reform: Gathered Together in Jesus’ Name,” concludes. At more than 400 events and gatherings in more than 40 states, evangelical Christians have prayed for immigrants, for Congress and for reform rooted in biblical teaching. Since May, more than 187,000 people have signed up as #Pray4Reform prayer partners.

And next week, evangelical Christians will join law enforcement and business leaders in Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Congress and urge movement on reform.

The full text of the letter follows:

 

October 21, 2013

 

Dear Representative:

 

The time has come to fix our broken immigration system.  We are pleased that the Judiciary and Homeland Security Committees have worked on several bills each addressing a part of the immigration reform puzzle.  As leaders of evangelical churches and organizations we write to offer our support and encourage further bipartisan cooperation towards enacting common sense immigration reform.

 

Evangelical leaders from across the country came together in June 2012 to form the Evangelical Immigration Table. The Table has issued broad principles for reform, which have been endorsed by prominent evangelical pastors, denominational heads, leaders of national parachurch ministries, and university and seminary presidents. We are working across the country to educate and mobilize our fellow evangelical Christians in support of a just and fair bipartisan policy solution to 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, and
  • Establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents.

 

We applaud the significant progress toward legislation that would secure our borders, marshal additional resources for border enforcement and internal enforcement, and require the Department of Homeland Security to submit, implement and report on a detailed border security plan. The bills take steps to elevate respect for the rule of law – strengthening E-Verify, establishing a legal guest worker program for agricultural workers, a more workable program for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) visas, and increasing passport and visa security. We are encouraged by reports of other bills being drafted that would address the need for more low skill visas and the legal status of children, adults, and asylees; addressing these needs is vital to fixing all the components of the current system.

 

The work the House has done on immigration reform thus far is commendable. However, we remain concerned about several provisions of H.R. 2278, The Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act (SAFE Act), that could have unintended consequences adversely affecting religious communities, law enforcement agencies, and the people they are called to serve. The SAFE Act, in its current form, criminalizes unlawful presence and includes broad prohibitions on “harboring” undocumented immigrants that could make criminals of the family members of undocumented immigrants and others, including fellow church members, who assist them with everyday activities. This is a significant problem for our pastors, faith leaders and others in our community, who as an extension of their faith, care in tangible ways for the immigrants (regardless of status) within their community. Pastors, faith leaders and others in our communities should not have to decide between following the law and giving water to a thirsty traveler in the desert, providing food to those who are hungry or giving rides to church for those without transportation. While collaboration and communication between federal, state, and local law enforcement is an essential part of effective policing, it must be structured in a way that fosters buy-in from those agencies and does not compromise their rapport and cooperation with immigrant communities.

As you continue to work towards a complete legislative solution for immigration reform, you and your staff are in our prayers. We appreciate the complexity of designing a system that meets our country’s needs and that can meet with broad public acceptance.  Through Bible reading, prayer, and public education campaigns we have mobilized a broad base of evangelical support for immigration reform.  But while Congress debates reform proposals, immigrant families and workers continue to suffer under our broken system.  Now it is time to finish the job.  Please prioritize work to finalize immigration reform legislation this year.

 

May God bless you and your staff in the days ahead.

 

Sincerely,

 

The Evangelical Immigration Table

PRESS RELEASE: Evangelicals Pray for Immigration Reform at Hundreds of Events and Gatherings Nationwide

Evangelical Christians Urge Congress to Move Reform Forward

WASHINGTON, D.C., OCTOBER 17, 2013 — With immigration reform on deck for Congress, evangelical Christians across the country are in the midst of more than 400 events and gatherings in 40 states to pray for immigrants, for Congress and for broad, bipartisan reform.

At large events and small gatherings, “Pray4Reform: Gathered Together in Jesus’ Name” continues the evangelical Pray for Reform campaign, through which more than 187,000 people have signed up as prayer partners. The Evangelical Immigration Table supports reform that reflects biblical values, including family unity and the God-given dignity of every person.

Events continue through Sunday, with a few additional events planned for later in October and into November (a map of larger events is available here). In addition, evangelical Christians will be traveling to Washington, D.C., Oct. 29 to meet with members of Congress and urge movement on reform.

Follow the conversation on Twitter at #pray4reform, and find a recording of a press call announcing this week’s prayer gatherings here. The following are quotes from local participants in this week’s Pray4Reform events:

Luis Cantú, Pastor, Sagemont Church, Houston:
“When I was a boy, I fought for the street corner where I could shine shoes so I could eat. As a young man I fought for my American citizenship. This issue of immigration reform is a 15-rounder. We cannot give up now. We must win the right for those who live hidden in the shadows of society the right to come out and live under the bright lights of the streets and contribute their skills in legal status or as American citizens. The time for reform is now!”

Rev. Dr. David Fleming, Senior Pastor, Champion Forest Baptist Church, Houston:
“We are a nation of laws, yes. But we also have a God-given responsibility as Christians to care for people created in the image of God. We have every right to insist that our laws are just and fairly enforced. But we must remember who we are as a nation of immigrants. And for us here tonight, we are here as Christians, before God, accountable for how we treat people — all people, regardless of status or position.”

Dr. John Jackson, President, William Jessup University, Sacramento, Calif.:
“As the President of an evangelical university, I am for immigration reform that is just, merciful and compassionate. I am praying for our legislators that they will establish a ‘new Ellis Island’ that, coupled with safe and secure national borders, will again declare that the United States is the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’ as a nation under God. Immigration laws that reflect the just and compassionate heart of God is my prayer.”

Rev. Alex Mandes, Director of Hispanic Ministries, Evangelical Free Church of America:
“There are people wondering why the church should be speaking on this matter, but for us the church can have only one plan: to be the hands, legs and feet of Jesus. All of us were immigrants in trouble at one time. If the church wants to be relevant and help, it better show up when people are hurting. For us, this is what Jesus would do.”

Rev. Chase Stancle, Kentwood Community Church, Grand Rapids, Mich.:
“As Christians, we should be concerned about immigration because we ourselves are immigrants. As believers in Christ, our primary citizenship is The Kingdom of God. I am proud to be an American but this is not my home. If we have accepted His gift of salvation, we have renounced our Earthly Citizenships and no longer call this home. I am an immigrant. Because Christ welcomes me as a citizen of His heavenly home, it is my privilege to extend that grace here in America as we seek and support legislation that will live up to the standards of our home.”

Dave Workman, Pastor, Vineyard Cincinnati:
“The system that [immigrants are] stuck in is just a really, really broken system. These are people who really want to work, really want to contribute to our city, and are stuck in the littlest ways, [which] has created all sorts of turmoil in their lives and really difficult situations in their families … The idea of beginning to pray for our leaders and just to get some sort of movement of reform in our immigration policy — that just seems like a smart and wise thing to do. I know it’s a complex problem, but I know there are solutions here that will satisfy [both ends] of the spectrum in terms of politics.”

PRESS RELEASE: Evangelical Leaders Announce Nationwide Week of Events for Immigration Reform


*To listen to a recording of the press call, please
click here.*

 

WASHINGTON, D.C., OCTOBER 9, 2013 — Evangelical Christians across the country are planning more than 300 events and gatherings in 40 states next week to pray for immigration reform.

 

The effort, “Pray4Reform: Gathered Together in Jesus’ Name,” was the subject of a press call today on which local and national evangelical leaders announced the Oct. 12-20 events and spoke about the urgency for reform.

 

With immigration reform on deck for Congress, this week of prayer continues the Evangelical Immigration Table’s ongoing Pray for Reform campaign, which has attracted more than 175,000 people to sign on as prayer partners. Next week’s events will focus on praying for immigrants, for lawmakers and for action on immigration reform that reflects biblical values, including family unity and the God-given dignity of every person.

 

The following quotes can be attributed to participants on today’s call:

 

Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association:

“Jesus teaches his disciples to pray with shameless persistence in pursuit of his justice. Today, Christians across our nation are doing just that on behalf of our immigrant brothers and sisters. We are crying out to God to move in the hearts of our lawmakers to fix our broken immigration system.”

Rev. Steve Dozeman, Associate Pastor, Calvary Christian Reformed Church, Holland, Mich.:

“It can be easy to look the other way on immigration reform, but as a Jesus-follower it is impossible. His call to look after the least of these, the oppressed, those experiencing injustice is crystal clear. Any power or privilege I have been given is a gift to be used to bless and serve the least of these … As a pastor, any time you have the opportunity to speak biblical truth about the stranger and about Christian hospitality and compassion, we are absolutely called to do that, and we’re certainly doing that here in our church in the west Michigan area.”

 

Dr. John Jackson, President, William Jessup University, Sacramento, Calif.:

“As the President of an evangelical university, I am for immigration reform that is just, merciful and compassionate. I am praying for our legislators that they will establish a ‘new Ellis Island’ that, coupled with safe and secure national borders, will again declare that the United States is the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’ as a nation under God. Immigration laws that reflect the just and compassionate heart of God is my prayer.”

 

Tim Moore, Pastor, Walk Worthy Baptist Church, Austin, Texas:

“We are doing everything in our power in Texas to bow our heads and bend our knees, that our leaders of our nation will find the time and will find the heart to come together on this critical issue of our day … I pray that our time is now. We’re in this together, and it is time for the nation to come together on serious, rigorous immigration reform.”

 

Pasqual Urrabazo, Associate Pastor, International Church of Las Vegas:

“As a third-generation Hispanic American, I’ve grown up in the communities of North Las Vegas and have lived among the family fragmentation caused by our present immigration system. People are continually drawn to this nation, even at risk of separation from their loved ones. Decades of the present immigration policy have led to an entire population living essentially ‘underground’ for fear of this family separation. This situation is not what this nation was built for — we were built to be a nation of families, not one that separates them.”

 

Dave Workman, Pastor, Vineyard Cincinnati:

“The system that [immigrants are] stuck in is just a really, really broken system. These are people who really want to work, really want to contribute to our city, and are stuck in the littlest ways, [which] has created all sorts of turmoil in their lives and really difficult situations in their families … The idea of beginning to pray for our leaders and just to get some sort of movement of reform in our immigration policy — that just seems like a smart and wise thing to do. I know it’s a complex problem, but I know there are solutions here that will satisfy [both ends] of the spectrum in terms of politics.

 

Jenny Yang, Vice President of Advocacy and Policy, World Relief:

“Despite the many challenges facing our nation, including the shutdown, the moral urgency of immigration remains. Every day that immigration reform is delayed is a day of justice deferred for the millions of immigrants in our country. We believe Congress can and should work together on immigration reform, which has significant economic and social ramifications for our country, by the end of the year.  In doing so, they will restore the confidence of the American people that they are placing people over politics, with thousands of evangelicals praying for them in the process.”

 

Join the conversation on Twitter using #Pray4Reform.

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The Evangelical Immigration Table is a broad coalition of evangelical organizations and leaders advocating for immigration reform consistent with biblical values.

Paul Louis Metzger: “Reforming Our Understanding of Romans 13 on Immigration Reform”

A student from Arizona once remarked in a class discussion on justice and immigration that it was against Arizona law to give a cup of water to an undocumented person. As a result of his understanding (or misunderstanding) of the Arizona law, he said he would not provide relief to someone he knew was undocumented. He was surprised when I asked, “What would Jesus do?” if our Lord faced the same situation. After all, Jesus often disobeyed the Sabbath laws of his day, for example, by healing people on the Sabbath (e.g., Mark 3:1-6). Regardless of the intricacies of the Arizona law and accuracy of the student’s claim, the discussion raised an important issue for Christians to discuss. Is civil disobedience ever warranted of Christians?

It is worth noting that, under current law—at least in most of the United States, most churches are not currently faced with this question of civil disobedience: nothing in federal law prohibits churches from ministering to undocumented immigrants in need, and there is no requirement that a church or an individual report someone whom they suspect of lacking legal status. Neither ministering to undocumented immigrants nor advocating for reforms to our immigration legal system puts a church or individual followers of Christ outside of submission to the governmental authorities. However, the political climate the past several years could put pressure on certain elements of a church’s ministry to the undocumented, making it appear unlawful, in view of ambiguously-worded immigration bills at both the state and federal levels. In this climate, the question of whether civil disobedience is ever warranted (or even required) of Christians in view of biblical texts on care for the stranger is worth considering (See for example Exodus 22:21, Leviticus 19:34, Matthew 25:43, and Luke 10:36-37).

The question of civil disobedience becomes more complicated when one considers such biblical texts as Romans 13. For many Christians like the student in my class, Romans 13 preclude the possibility of ever disobeying a government’s law in good conscience. Romans 13:1-7 reads,

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed (ESV).

From a surface reading of the text, it might appear that Christians are to offer blind obedience to the governing authorities. Such is not the case. We are to subject ourselves to the governing authorities as they do good, not evil, for God has authorized them to nurture and protect the good of all, not to do harm (Romans 13:4). Ultimately, Christians are to subject themselves to Christ in the sphere of the state. From the vantage point of Christ’s lordship over all spheres, the church and state are subject to Christ’s kingdom.[1] Thus, Christians and the church are to approach the subject of obedience to the state in view of their ultimate allegiance to Christ and his call on his people to care for the stranger and neighbor in need.

In this context, it is also worth noting that the text that immediately follows in Romans 13 (verses 8-10) focuses on what is essential to fulfilling God’s law as revealed in the Old Testament—love your neighbor as yourself:

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

The church is to dedicate itself to fulfilling God’s law, which centers on love of neighbor, as well as the love of God (cf. Mark 12:30-31), even if that puts it at odds with the state from time to time.  Jesus redefines for us who our neighbor is. He is not the person like us or who likes us or whom we like. It is the person who stands or lies before us, including the person in need, as in the story of the Samaritan of exceptional mercy in Luke 10:25-37. It could very well be the case that the Jewish religious leaders who passed the beaten and robbed man lying on the road did so because they feared he was dead and to have touched him would have made them ceremonially unclean. Jesus calls them and us to a higher law—love of neighbor. Only the Samaritan cared for their neighbor that day. Only he proved to be a neighbor to the person in need. And, as Pastor Rick Warren says, “A good Samaritan doesn’t stop and ask the injured person, ‘Are you legal or illegal?’”

Martin Luther King, Jr. demonstrates for us how to apply Romans 13 in our current democratic context. The Apostle Paul had no way of influencing legislation of laws in his day, but Christians, just like King, do so in our society. Providentially for us, King did not offer blind obedience to the state. If he had, we might still be experiencing forms of Jim Crow legislation today. Or else, the overturning of these laws might have come through violent forms of disobedience, not civil disobedience as with the movement inspired by King and the African American church.

From his Birmingham Jail cell, King responded to the white clergy who were troubled by his civil disobedience:

One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

King understood the consequences for disobeying governing authorities—jail or worse. But King also understood the consequences of not obeying one’s own conscience and God himself, who calls us to promote just laws that favor the love of neighbor as ourselves regardless of the cost. King had the King of Kings as his exemplar: it is lawful to do good, not harm, to save life, not to kill, even if one gets killed in the end by the authorities for doing so, as happened with Jesus (See Mark 3:1-6).

The Evangelical Immigration Table offers a balanced approach to the subject of immigration reform in a democratic system. Rather than having to pursue blind obedience to unjust laws or dismissing the rightful rule of law, its principles include the following: respecting the God-given dignity of each and every person, whether documented or not, respecting the rule of law, and establishing a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents. Our current immigration laws are out-of-synch with the needs of our labor market and thus have been only selectively enforced for decades, sending mixed messages to immigrants desperate for work; a biblically-appropriate respect for the rule of law should guide us to reform a system that is not currently functioning well, restoring the rule of law while also respecting the human dignity of each person made in God’s image.

In the end, Christians have a responsibility in our democratic society to promote and live by laws that promote God’s law of love of neighbor—documented or not, as disclosed in Scripture and embodied in Jesus Christ.

Paul Louis Metzger is Professor of Christian Theology & Theology of Culture at Multnomah Biblical Seminary and Director of The Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins at Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon. He earned his Ph.D. from King’s College, London and his Master’s Degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is the author of numerous books, including the award-winning Consuming Jesus: Beyond Race and Class Divisions in a Consumer Church (Eerdmans, 2007), and editor of Cultural Encounters: A Journal for the Theology of Culture.

This and other Evangelical Perspectives on Immigration represent one evangelical perspective on immigration—that of the author—and not necessarily the views of every member organization of the Evangelical Immigration Table or every signatory of the Evangelical Statement of Principles for Immigration Reform.  

 

[1] Karl Barth writes of Romans 13 that “the last thing this instruction implies is that the Christian community and the Christian should offer the blindest possible obedience to the civil community and its officials.” Karl Barth, “The Christian Community and the Civil Community,” in Against the Stream: Shorter Post-War Writings, 1946-1952, ed. R. G. Smith, trans. E.M. Delecour and S. Godman (London: SCM Press, Ltd., 1954), p. 24. According to Barth, the church is to submit to Christ in the sphere of the state (See p. 29). The church’s ultimate allegiance to Christ puts a check on its submission to the dictates of the state. The church and state are subject to Christ, who is Lord over all spheres.

 

This and other Evangelical Perspectives on Immigration represent one evangelical perspective on immigration—that of the author—and not necessarily the views of every member organization of the Evangelical Immigration Table or every signatory of the Evangelical Statement of Principles for Immigration Reform.  

Danny Carroll: “Immigration Reform: Can the Bible Help Us?”

As discussions in Congress about immigration reform heat up, Christians should step back and ask how the Bible might inform their own view on immigration. Could the Bible have something to contribute to the national debate about changing immigration law?

Where do we begin the discussion? For many people, the place to begin is Romans 13. This is a very important passage, but it will be dealt with in another study. Here we start with a fundamental question that should guide the evaluation of any law: What kind of values do we want to be reflected in the laws of our country?

To answer that question we turn to Genesis chapter one. There we are told that human beings are made in the image of God. This means that each person has infinite value in God’s sight and that each human being has tremendous potential. This truth reminds us that any discussion about immigration ultimately is about people.

We need to ask: Do our immigration laws honor the worth of immigrants as human beings? And, do our laws facilitate the realization of their great potential for this country? To look at legislation from this perspective gives the discussion a constructive direction. Laws will focus on respect and on facilitating their contribution to society (such as at the workplace and in education).

Do we find migration in the Bible? The history of humanity is the history of migration. Not surprisingly, we find migration in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. The reasons for the movements of these people are similar to the ones that drive people to migrate today, such as hunger (Abram, Gen. 12; Jacob, his sons and their families, Gen. 46-47) and displacement in war (Daniel, Ezekiel). The Bible also describes the lives and the positive impact of God’s people who had to live far from home (Joseph, Nehemiah, Esther). We find, too, the account of an immigrant woman and the process of her integration into a new community (Ruth).

Migration is so central to the Bible that it provides a picture of the Christian life! 1 Peter 2:11 tells us that all Christians are sojourners, strangers in a strange land (also note Phil. 3:20; Heb. 13:14; Eph. 2:11-22). In other words, Christians are migrants on this earth. We serve another king and are citizens of a greater kingdom, the kingdom of God. This suggests that the more we learn about immigration the more we will actually understand our faith. We will appreciate in new ways that Christians are vulnerable and dependent in a world that sees us as strangers.

Can Old Testament Law provide guidance? Some Christians may be surprised that we look to the Old Testament Law for guidance. We do not do so in order to imitate Israel’s laws dealing with immigrants. We do so in order to learn what set of values should be the moral foundations of the legislation that we seek to pass for our country. Those ancient laws are a testimony to the righteousness of God (Deut. 4:5-8).

In the ancient world, foreigners lived a precarious existence. On the one hand, they were far away from their extended family, which was the source of help in times of need at that time. There were no government social programs like we have now. On the other hand, in Israel it was difficult for foreigners to own land for farming. Land was handed down within Israel’s families through the male line. Therefore, foreigners would have to rely on the Israelites for protection, aid, and work.

Old Testament laws responded to these challenges in multiple ways. Foreigners were to have proper rest from their work like everyone else (Exod. 20:10; 23:12; Deut. 5:14) and receive a fair wage on time (Deut. 24:14-15). Law courts were to be fair to these outsiders and impartial (Deut. 1:16-17; 24:17-18; 27:19). There also were provisions for food in times of hunger (Lev. 19:9-10; Deut. 14:28-29; 24:19-22). Even more impressive was the command to allow foreigners to participate in Israel’s worship, the most precious part of their culture (Exod. 12:45-49; Lev. 16:29). The number and openness of Israel’s laws for foreigners is unique among all ancient law codes.

There were expectations for the outsiders, too. They would have had to learn Israel’s laws and speak the language to work and take part in the religious life of Israel (Deut. 31:8-13).

There is no indication that these laws were only for “legal” immigrants. Perhaps Israel monitored who entered the country, like some of other nations did, but we have no evidence of that. Distinctions were made, however, between those who integrated culturally into Israelite society (ger) and those that did not, for whom there was a different label. The issue was not legal status.

The Israelites were to love foreigners as themselves, just as they were to love their neighbors as themselves (Lev. 19:18, 33-34). Their history also was a motivation to treat them well (Exod. 22:21; 23:9; Deut. 24:17-18). Most importantly, they were to care for the foreigner, because God loves them (Deut. 10:17-19; 24:14-15).
Israel’s laws reached out to foreigners because of its history (the US is a nation of immigrants!) and the heart of God. How might our laws exhibit charity towards the needy from elsewhere?

What about borders? God establishes nations, which suggests that borders are important. To rethink immigration law is not to eliminate borders or the rule of law. It is to rethink what kind of laws to support in order to better reflect biblical values. What we have is inadequate and sometimes unjust. The Bible can set an agenda for change that will benefit immigrants and the entire nation.

M. Daniel Carroll R. (Rodas) is distinguished professor of Old Testament at Denver Seminary and the national spokesperson on immigration for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. He is the author of Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church, and the Bible (Baker Academic, 2008). He has a ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary and his PhD from the University of Sheffield.

 

This and other Evangelical Perspectives on Immigration represent one evangelical perspective on immigration—that of the author—and not necessarily the views of every member organization of the Evangelical Immigration Table or every signatory of the Evangelical Statement of Principles for Immigration Reform.  

 

Peter Crabb: “Faith and Economics: Why Christians Should Support Immigration Reform”

 In Luke Chapter 10 Jesus confirms the Law—we must love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and strength and love our neighbors as ourselves.  He goes on to show that even strangers are our neighbors.  We learn here and in other parts of the Bible that we must show love to immigrants whether or not they serve our economic interests. Fortunately, immigration reform is not a situation where our Christian faith must trump our economic incentives. Immigration, both authorized and unauthorized, has economic benefits for all. Economists often disagree, but on the subject of immigration reform there is a strong consensus over both the theory and evidence.  Reform of the United States’ current immigration policy can be done in a way that respects the God-given dignity of every person, protects families, and ensures no loss to taxpayers.
In Deuteronomy chapter 10 God gives specific instructions for how we are to treat foreigners living among us. We are to not only love them, but provide food and clothing. Why did he make such a demand of the Israelites? Because they too were once strangers in a land. In Matthew chapter 25 Jesus commands us to invite strangers in, feeding them and ministering to their physical needs.  Immigration is a policy debate where both our faith and economic knowledge line up. The U.S. has a strong heritage of welcoming immigrants, and much of our economic success can be attributed the skills, creative ideas, and work ethic immigrants brought with them.

There is a strong case that immigration helps the U.S. economy grow faster than it would otherwise.  Even undocumented workers improve our economy. A 2006 survey of economists by The Wall Street Journal found that 59 percent of economists believe undocumented workers have only a slight impact on wages in low-skill jobs, but 96 percent said undocumented workers are beneficial to the economy because these workers fill jobs many American workers won’t accept and hold down the rate of inflation.[i] Writing earlier this year in The New York Times, Harvard economist N. Gregory Mankiw said “… economists are receptive to the concept of immigration, partly because they tend to have a libertarian streak.”[ii]  Economic analysis shows that free markets lead to the best outcomes for society, and the question of immigration’s impact on labor market is no different. When markets are open to trade prices are lower and the quantity produced rises. This increases the rate at which an economy can grow and provides more choices for consumers.

Economy theory also supports greater immigration because of its association with entrepreneurism. New business formation is a key to economic growth and immigrants start small businesses at higher rates than native-born US citizens. Economist Robert Fairlie from UC-Santa Cruz showed that immigrants play an important role in economy by starting new businesses, creating jobs, and increasing exports.[iii] In 2011 immigrant owned businesses added more than $775 billion dollars of revenue to the U.S. gross domestic product. Further, Professor Fairlie showed that this was true even when the overall economy was weak.

Other economic research shows that immigration is good for U.S. worker productivity.  Anyone willing to move to a new country is generally ambitious, that is, a good worker. Whenever output per worker rises the economy grows at a faster rate. In a 2010 study, Professor Giovanni Peri of the UC- Davis and researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco found evidence that immigrants expand the economy’s productive capacity, stimulate new investment, and boost productivity.[iv] Their local-level data shows that states with higher immigrant worker populations have higher rates of output per worker. Immigrants raise the overall output. Higher economic output brings in more tax revenue, helping reduce the federal budget deficit and stretched state budgets.

By increasing the avenues for legal immigration and reducing the number of undocumented workers in the U.S. we can also address one of the key factors of poverty – the breakdown of the family unit. Census data shows that poverty in the U.S. is strongly correlated with family composition. Families headed by a female adult without a spouse present are more likely to live in poverty than a family headed by a married couple.[v] This can be thought of as another productivity issue. A tight family unit is more likely to be productive and have a higher standard of living. With immigration reform fewer workers will leave behind their spouses and children, the entire family will have more support, and poverty around the world is likely to be lower.

Some analysts have argued that undocumented workers place a strain on the many government-provided benefits in the United States. These researchers have tried to show that US taxpayer is providing unwarranted income and services to millions of workers. But assumptions in this body of research give rise to inflated costs and ignore benefits. The Heritage Foundation has produced many reports suggesting that any revisions to current law providing undocumented workers some permanent status are bad for this country.[vi] However, the Heritage studies falsely assume immigrants use many services they don’t pay for and fail to make any assumption about the potential economic gains that arise when undocumented workers gain legal status.

The most recent Heritage report uses what economists call static analysis. The reports states that undocumented immigrants increase GDP by approximately 2 percent, but goes on to say that these same workers will capture most of the gain from expanded production in their own wages. The authors write, “…while unlawful immigrants make the American economic pie larger, they themselves consume most of the slice that their labor adds.”  This statement contradicts the economic theory outlined above and the findings of other studies. For example, Professor Leighton Ku and lecturer Brian Bruen of George Washington University studied data from welfare programs like Medicaid, food stamps and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. [vii]  They found that the families of low wage immigrant workers consistently use such programs less than their native-born counterparts. They also showed that when these poor immigrants did accept assistance it was at a lower cost than that of native families. Immigrants come here to work; the US taxpayer is not at risk. In the unlikely event an immigrant family does seek government benefits the cost is low and the long-term benefits outweigh them.

Our faith and our economics are aligned. Immigration reform is not just the right thing for Christians to do, it is good economic policy. There is widespread consensus among economists that all forms of immigration improve the country’s standard of living. Immigrant workers keep prices lower by accepting many unwanted jobs, starting new businesses, and increasing overall worker productivity.  With reduced barriers to legal immigration families are more likely to remain together and poverty rates will decline. Finally, the data don’t support any suggestion immigrants are a burden to U.S. taxpayers.  The United States’ immigration policies should be reformed so that we better respect the God-given dignity of every person, reduce the risk of poverty by keeping families together, and grow the economy faster for the benefit of all.

Peter R. Crabb is Professor of Finance and Economics at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho.  He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Oregon and an MBA in Finance from the University of Colorado.  His research in economics and finance is published in the Journal of Business, the Journal of Microfinance, and the International Review of Economics and Finance, among others.

This and other Evangelical Perspectives on Immigration represent one evangelical perspective on immigration—that of the author—and not necessarily the views of every member organization of the Evangelical Immigration Table or every signatory of the Evangelical Statement of Principles for Immigration Reform.  

[i] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114477669441223067.html

[ii] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/10/business/how-economics-has-benefited-from-immigration.html

[iii] http://www.renewoureconomy.org/sites/all/themes/pnae/openforbusiness.pdf

[iv] http://www.frbsf.org/publications/economics/letter/2010/el2010-26.html

[v] See chapter 20 in Principles of Economics, N. Gregory Mankiw, South-Western Cengage Learning 2012.

[vi] http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2013/05/the-fiscal-cost-of-unlawful-immigrants-and-amnesty%20to-the-us-taxpayer

[vii] http://www.cato.org/publications/economic-development-bulletin/poor-immigrants-use-public-benefits-lower-rate-poor

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