"But when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men", Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount. "I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full."
Yet, the modern-day Pharisees belonging to the so-called Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT) have planned a public "day of prayer and action" as a political contrivance. In reality, it's merely a day of political activism in religious camouflage.
The April 17 event on Capitol Hill has little to do with humbly seeking the Lord's will in the course of human affairs pertaining to American immigration policy. It has everything to do with staging a political stunt for gullible news reporters and politicians. In other words, this event amounts to political staging, smoke and mirrors.
Who's confirmed as speakers (as opposed to prayer leaders)? Megachurch pastor Bill Hybels, a handful of pastors, the ever-present wolf in sheep's clothing Sammy Rodriguez, and bigwigs from a couple of other groups (including World Relief, whose refugee resettlement program has collected about $60 million in federal dollars since 1996).
The EIT press release says "Daylong events will include a press conference, meetings with members of Congress and their staffs, and worship services." The order of these listings betrays the importance of each in the eyes of the organizers: getting their amnesty message to the news media and cowering politicians.
Apparently, earnest prayer and worship of the living God doesn't really fit into the purpose of this political stunt. Honestly, one has to wonder whether the "prayers" that may be voiced at this event will rise any higher than the ceiling.
And who is behind this stagecraft? The media contacts listed are PR flacks from the liberal redistribution-of-wealth political activist group Sojourners and the anything-but-Christian National Immigration Forum (NIF).
(Not mentioned in the news release, but if you go to the EIT website promoting the event, they're charging $20 a head. Kind of reminds you of the moneychangers at the temple of whom Jesus wasn't so favorable.)
And speaking of money, megarich atheist George Soros has underwritten both Sojourners and the National Immigration Forum, among other open-borders activist groups (as well as pro-abortion, gay rights, and other causes the supposed conservative religionists may oppose). The Leftist NIF has co-opted undiscerning evangelical "leaders".
DiscovertheNetworks.org, a watchdog group, has exposed the EIT and its radical organizers for what they truly are doing:
In 2012, NIF launched its "Bibles, Badges and Business" (BBB) initiative, which was designed to influence Republican legislators by recruiting traditionally conservative pastors, law-enforcement officials, and business owners to take the pro-amnesty side in the immigration debate. As NIF executive director Ali Noorani reasoned, "A conservative voter is going to listen to a conservative leader, especially in conservative states." in December 2012 alone, NIF helped facilitate more than 70 immigration-related meetings on Capitol Hill—of which 56 were with Republican lawmakers. Supported avidly by Sojourners founder Jim Wallis, BBB was ultimately very effective in persuading Christian conservatives in particular to drop their opposition to amnesty—as a way of adhering more faithfully to "the teachings of Christ."
To augment the efforts of BBB, NIF created the Evangelical Immigration Table, a project featuring an array of nominally Christian ethnic-identity groups endorsing mass amnesty as a means of "respect[ing] the God-given dignity of every person" and "protect[ing] the unity of the immediate family."
In February 2013, NIF executive director Ali Noorani said he was "encouraged by the President's [Obama's] leadership in prioritizing immigration reform this year."
Undoubtedly, prayer has long held a legitimate role in American public life, such as the many national days of prayer and fasting called by the Continental Congress, President George Washington, President Abraham Lincoln, and their successors throughout our nation's history. But corporate prayer in official public settings and citizens coming together in humility before the sovereign Lord to intercede on behalf of their nation differ dramatically from using empty "prayer" as a PR prop.
What do thoughtful Christian leaders think about the open-borders/amnesty flavor-of-the-month approach being foisted on unsuspecting rank-and-file evangelicals by their supposed "leaders?" For one, Bishop Harry Jackson, an African-American minister in the Washington, D.C., area, has exposed the amnesty push as not at all like a moral crusade:
There is a major difference between these illegal aliens and the black community of the '50s and '60s. First of all, Martin Luther King, Jr. and other black leaders of his day were firm believers in the U.S. Constitution. Many were veterans of our Armed Services and citizens of our nation. They legitimately questioned their second class status, which was based upon America's unwillingness to follow through with the promises of liberty which were granted in the 14th Amendment. These civil rights warriors were not American "wannabes" demanding their place at the table. The Civil Rights Movement of the '50s and '60s consisted of people whose families had been citizens of the nation for nearly 100 years. In addition, their courageous acts of civil disobedience were totally peaceful, despite the fact that many of their family and friends had been lynched, tortured, and oppressed in a myriad of appalling ways.
For another, Institute on Religion and Democracy President Mark Tooley has cautioned against allowing ideological or idealistic enthusiasm to overcome sober biblical prudence on many questions before the City of Man:
[W]hat has motivated our work for 32 years, is a concern that the institutional church not confuse the Gospel with debatable political specifics. Ecclesial bodies, when addressing contemporary issues, are typically wiser to speak of broad principles rather than lobby for specific legislation, a vocation often better left to lay persons. There also needs to be discernment by church representatives about core Christian teachings versus questions of prudential judgment. And dogmatic church stances on civil legislation not supported by church members undermine credibility and integrity.
It's hard for anybody, even senior church officials, to resist the tug of impulsive news cycles and the alternately apocalyptic and utopian claims of clashing political claims. Guided by ancient teaching and millennia of church history, our "faith leaders" should have their eyes not just on the moment but also on eternity. And our churches should aspire to a thoughtful and restrained political witness amid public policy debates where God's will is not always clearly obvious.
All I can add is, in Christ's name, Amen!