Evangelical Goliath Backs Amnesty

By James R. Edwards, Jr. on May 19, 2010

A new push for mass amnesty involves the help of certain evangelicals. Democrats and the usual open-borders suspects have courted "leaders" of the evangelical strain for a couple of years now. Their efforts are paying off. A smattering of those religious elites has signed onto an advertisement calling for "immigration reform." The ad recently appeared in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call and is part of a broader lobbying campaign.

These religious "leaders" are taking the same track their counterparts in theologically liberal circles took years ago. The more left-leaning clergy ignored the Apostle Paul's warning and exchanged the truth of God for a lie, in their case trading in essentials of the Christian faith for left-wing politics.

Most of the signers of the recent amnesty ad come from denominations and organizations traditionally considered conservative, at least theologically, and largely nonpolitical. But a number of megachurch pastors have joined Southern Baptists, National Association of Evangelicals officials, and others in support of "immigration reform" (which, just like "pathway to citizenship," in Washington parlance is code for "mass amnesty").

In some ways, the lie these evangelicals have traded for is more treacherous because for many of them it appears to wrap a cursory understanding of immigration policy in moralistic, well-intentioned error. These people might be expected to exercise a good bit more care and caution. After all, they are well aware of how throughout history error has led to many an instance of theological distortion, apostasy, and splits into sects divergent from orthodox Christianity.

Instead of first seeking a sound understanding of immigration policy, history, and the facts on the ground, the ad's backers have fallen victim to groupthink. They have stepped out toward the end of a weak branch. They have little support among their rank and file, so they prevaricate and get preachy.

For example, the ad states principles for reform so vague and generic that most amnesty opponents could agree. Anybody paying attention can see they don't mean exactly what the ad appears to say. And on a May 12 conference call of ad signers calling themselves "Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform" (joined by liberal New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer and the politically questionable Rev. Sammy Rodriguez, who backed Obama's plan for socialized medicine), Southern Baptist Richard Land huffed that CIR is not amnesty, and anyone calling it amnesty needs a course in remedial English. Yet, the "path toward legal status" ad backers have in mind involves forgiving the immigration lawbreaking of millions of illegal aliens with minimal penalty and full immigration benefits just as though these lawbreakers had obeyed immigration laws.

The evangelical "leader" campaign for legalization won't likely win many converts. Rather, this situation represents the same kind of stark divide over immigration issues between elites and rank and file in other sectors. These people will find themselves increasingly on the margins, perhaps losing influence.

A Newsweek blog sized up their challenge:

The number of GOP senators currently willing to work on immigration reform? Zero. At least part of the reason is to avoid inflaming the Republican base, of which grassroots evangelicals form a significant chunk.

All of which shows that the NAE has its work cut out for it. As [Liberty Counsel's Matthew] Staver told CNN, "there's a misconception among people at the grassroots that the pathway to citizenship is amnesty, and it's not, but we have to overcome that. ... There's a lot of work to be done." Indeed.

The "misconception" about legalization schemes lies entirely with self-proclaimed leaders eager to win the praise of fashionable political types, in spite of the common sense of the overwhelming majority of their fellow Christians. In this fight against amnesty, evangelical parishioners are the Davids and the evangelical fatcats are the Goliaths.