On Tuesday Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) cited "Biblical compassion" as a reason to support the "Gang of Eight" immigration bill. Rubio told CBN that he supports the bill because “[o]ur faith has always been about compassion and it compels you to do something.
"Now, we have an obligation to be responsible to our country and not do anything that hurts America but also our faith calls us to compassion. If you took compassion or the principle of compassion out of the Bible, it would be in tatters because it’s all over the place.”
Mark Tooley, President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy took exception to Rubio's claim that "Biblical compassion" requires the passage of the bill. Tooley told Breitbart News that "the Scripture and Christian tradition give no specific guidance on the details of U.S. immigration law. Christians have various views in this political issue. And evangelical elites who claim to speak for evangelicals as a whole politically on this issue are likely exaggerating their mandate and influence."
Though Rubio argues for the idea of "Biblical compassion," Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) wrote in an op-ed at the Los Angeles Times on Monday that the contents of the bill make it so flawed it has little to do with compassion of any kind. "The so-called Gang of Eight immigration plan now being considered by the Senate fails to live up to every major promise made by its sponsors. Far from improving the immigration system, their 1,000-page proposal would exacerbate many of its flaws. It would dangerously undermine future enforcement while imposing substantial burdens on taxpayers and taking jobs and pay from U.S. workers."
Rubio went on to claim in his interview with CBN that it was the evangelical rank and file--not the preaching elite--who are behind the efforts to push the Gang of Eight immigration bill through. "I think the biggest change hasn’t been in the pulpit. It’s been in the pews. The folks who are attending church who maybe five years ago felt differently about this issue now they’re worshipping next to an illegal immigrant family, now they’ve met someone who’s in the circumstance so it’s one thing is when eleven million is a statistic. The other thing is when one of those eleven million is your friend, a human being you now know."
But evangelicals who support the Gang of Eight bill are vulnerable to the charge that their effort is largely top down, manufactured by a select evangelical elite who have been funded by billionaire atheist George Sorosand his National Immigration Forum.
One member of the evangelical elite, Lynne Hybels, co-founder of Willow Creek Community Church, a Chicago area mega church, recently served as a spokesperson and voice for the Evangelical Immigration Table, a George Soros front group that does not even exist legally.
Jack Chaffin, a medical doctor who lives in Boise, Idaho and used to attend the Willow Creek Leadership Summits before the church turned away from traditional evangelism and towards political activism and social justice, is typical of rank and file evangelicals who are shocked at the political activism of the evangelical elite and their support for the Gang of Eight bill. On Tuesday Chaffin told Breitbart News "since the mid 2000, I have observed that the "social gospel" (another way of saying church-sponsored welfarism, leftism, and progressivism) began creeping into Willow Creek. I became less blessed by attending events that were great in the past, and could see diversions into politics, and I stopped attending their training events."
Now that the full Senate has begun debate on the merits of the Gang of Eight bill, the spotlight will continue to focus on the competing perspectives among evangelicals. On one side are the well-funded evangelical elite who support its passage. On the other side are rank-and-file traditional evangelicals who oppose framing the political argument for the bill in ways that sanctify its supporters and demonize its opponents.