The conservative evangelical group Focus on the Family, which was founded by James Dobson, announced yesterday that it, along with other evangelical leaders, is open to granting amnesty to illegal immigrants.
Jim Daly, who heads the group, signed the “Evangelical Statement of Principles for Immigration Reform,” which calls for bipartisan legislation that would include a provision that “establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents” while also guaranteeing “secure national borders,” ensuring “fairness to taxpayers,” respecting the rule of law, and respecting the “God-given dignity of every person.” Some of these principles, though, such as respecting the rule of law and “establishing a path toward legal status and/or citizenship,” seem to be mutually exclusive.
The group ran a full-page advertisement in the print edition of Politico and will run radio ads in Florida and Colorado in addition to other states with burgeoning Hispanic populations.
"I signed on to this statement because immigration reform is more than an ‘issue’ to families -– it profoundly affects their stability, structure and quality of life,” Daly said in a statement. “I'm encouraged that more than 100 evangelical leaders, who have some pretty significant differences of opinion on matters of theology and public-policy advocacy, have come together to declare with one voice that our government must respect and balance both the rule of law and the God-given humanity of all people in working toward an immigration solution that puts principles ahead of politics."
Richard Land, President of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said in a statement that the group was “calling upon all people of faith to bring their faith commitment to loving your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31) and letting righteousness roll down like rivers of living water (Amos 5:24) to the difficult but not impossible problems of immigration reform."
And Jim Wallis, President and CEO of Sojourners, said that while "evangelicals agree and disagree on many things,” there “are not many things that a group of evangelical leaders this diverse can agree on when it comes to public policy.”
Of course, there are incentives for evangelical leaders to want more lenient immigration policies toward Hispanics for evangelicals are the fastest-growing part of the Hispanic religious community and some think Hispanics will be “lifeguards for Christianity in America in the 21st century.”
The politics of this will be interesting, and it remains to be seen if the evangelical communities these leaders represent will be as receptive to potential legislation that grants some form of amnesty to illegal immigrants.