Letter from Iowa, National Evangelical Leaders to Presidential Candidates

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January 27, 2016 Dear Presidential Candidates, Welcome back to Iowa. As you seek the evangelical vote in Iowa and around the country, please know that evangelical voters are looking for a biblical approach regarding immigrants and immigration. Scripture teaches us that every human being is made in God’s image and is endowed with inherent dignity and potential to flourish. All people, including immigrants, deserve respect. Jesus demonstrated high regard for foreigners in his teaching and actions, and identified himself with the stranger in Matthew 25. We recognize that immigrants can be agents of blessings to their receiving communities as well. This has been true throughout our history. Immigrants continue to contribute to our economy. In Iowa alone, Asian- and Latino-owned businesses employ thousands and contribute more than $1 billion annually to the economy. Immigrants are also key to the agricultural sector, which makes up more than 25 percent of Iowa’s economy. Immigrants are not just our co-workers but also our neighbors, friends and members of our church family. Having lived and worshipped together, we know them to be vital members of our community. When our immigrant neighbors are attacked with harsh rhetoric, we feel their pain. Yet, millions of immigrants in the U.S. continue to live in the shadows. As Christians, we are commanded in Scripture to uphold the law. But our current outdated policies mock the rule of law rather than strengthen it. Fully enforcing existing laws would entail deporting an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, many of whom are hardworking individuals who have been here for a decade or more and who pose no security threat. Such an approach would devastate our economy and society. We believe in a sensible solution between the extremes of mass deportation and blanket amnesty. A 2015 LifeWay Research survey found that 7 in 10 evangelical Christians support immigration reforms that include border security and the opportunity for undocumented immigrants to earn legal status and/or citizenship. Candidates who espouse harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies risk alienating many voters. Facing possible separation from immigrant loved ones or friends will influence voters who might otherwise identify with your campaign. Pushing away such voters will not bolster the traditional American values that have made our country strong. Scripture guides us toward a just and compassionate response to immigrants in our country. We encourage you to heed its words and get to know our communities. Come meet us and our immigrant neighbors, friends and fellow church members. We are confident that you will discover, as we have, that we are stronger when all members of our community have the status and opportunities to flourish. Sincerely, Alejandro Alfaro-Santiz, Pastor, Las Americas Comunidad de Fe, Des Moines Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals Stephan Bauman, President and CEO, World Relief Todd R. Berner, Recovery Pastor, Radiant Church, Pleasant Hill Galen Carey, Vice President of Government Relations, National Association of Evangelicals Jonathan Craig, Associate Pastor, Dover Avenue Alliance Church, Orange City Bob D. De Boer, Pastor of Discipleship and Mission, Trinity Reformed Church, Orange City Karla Stoltzfus Detweiler, Pastor, First Mennonite Church, Iowa City Dylan Does, Lead Pastor, Restore Church, Marshalltown Laird R. O. Edman, Professor of Psychology, Northwestern College, Orange City Dan Feigenspan, Associate Pastor, High Point City Church, Iowa City Garry Gardner, Elder, Bethel Church, Boone Jeremy R. Geerdes, Pastor, Debra Heights Wesleyan Church, Des Moines Barron Geiger, Pastor, Crossway Community Church, Altoona Taylor & Stephanie Getting, Pastors, Infuse Church, Coralville Gianni Gracia, Pastor, Amistad Cristiana, Sioux Center Todd Hart, Lead Pastor, Cedar Rapids Alliance Church, Cedar Rapids Ed Hedding, Senior Pastor, Pleasant View Baptist Church, Bettendorf Shirley Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities John Lee, Pastor, Bethel Reformed Church, Sioux Center Ben Mathew, Chair, Counseling Department, Emmaus Bible College, Dubuque Tom McGovern, Executive Director, Quad Cities Night to Honor Israel, Bettendorf Jonathan Opgenorth, Pastor, Trinity Reformed Church, Orange City Caleb Pahl, Academic Dean, Inste Bible College, Ankeny Marvin Pelaez, Pastor, Pentecostal Church of God, Des Moines Al Perez, Spiritual Formation Pastor/Co-Chair, Destiny Church/Latino Forum of Des Moines, Des Moines Kory Plockmeyer, Pastor, Covenant Christian Reformed Church, Sioux Center Van Rathbun, Pastor, Central Reformed Church, Sioux Center Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference Doug Rowland, Pastor of Outreach Ministries, Harvest Bible Chapel Davenport, Davenport John L. Shaull, Retired Pastor/Director of Missions, New Bridge Church/Metro Baptist Association, Winterset Teresa Stecker, Pastor/Director, Greater Iowa City Church of the Nazarene/Harvest 20/20 Compassionate Ministries, Iowa City Valerie Stokes, Associate Professor of Social Work/Department Chair, Northwestern College, Orange City Douglas Van Aartsen, Pastor, First Reformed Church, Ireton Nicholas A. Venditti, President, Inste Bible College, Ankeny Rocky Vest, Missional Living Pastor, Westwind Church, Waukee Dorothy Whiston, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Iowa City
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