Oregon churches tackle immigration reform

By Traci Scott,

Trinity Episcopal Cathedral of Portland recently hosted a series of faith and ethics forums that pertain to immigration reform.  Topics included the following; Immigration, Humanity and the Church, Labor and Community, Economics of Immigration Reform and Comprehensive Immigration Reform.  Led by parishioner Jeff Stone, Oregon Association of Nurseries, guest speakers discussed the theological, legal, labor, economic and human dimensions of immigration.

Nationally, faith leaders have come together to make an important and unified call to fix our nation’s broken immigration system.

In New York, leaders from 20 different faiths have launched a statewide effort to lobby President Obama and the U.S. Congress to enact comprehensive, just and humane reform of our nation’s immigration system.

The group calls itself the New York State Interfaith Network for Immigration Reform.  Its  leaders, representing Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh faith traditions, will be meeting with members of Congress across New York State to discuss the need for immigration reform

Not to be outdone, prominent evangelical leaders from all across the country gathered in Washington D.C. on March 31 to discuss the need for their churches to become more proactive in the immigration debate.  They called on Congress and the President to approve reform legislation this year.

Immigration has long been a problematic issue for evangelical Christians.  Most of the nation’s large politically influential evangelical organizations have either supported legislation that focuses on border enforcement and deporting illegal immigrants or have taken no position on the issue.

However, an increasing number of evangelical Protestants are Hispanic immigrants, who support a path to citizenship and other reforms. Even the Southern Baptists, not usually known for their liberal tendencies, take what is considered a moderate position on the issue of immigration. Fully half of their growth in the last decade came from ethnic groups, including Hispanics, according to Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

The National Association of Evangelicals, whose members include 52 denominations, hasn’t taken a position on the issue because its members have been divided on how to deal with it.  However, NAE president Leith Anderson recently said that the organization has held several immigration forums around the country and has begun drafting a position statement with the goal of adopting a unified resolution by October.

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