Predictions that the United States is in danger of becoming a religious theocracy took an interesting turn on Monday when a supporter of the George Soros backed Evangelical Immigration Table invoked the Gospel in a Washington Post op-ed denouncing opponents of the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill.
Reverend Michael Wilker, pastor of the Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. where the Evangelical Immigration Table held a public prayer service on July 24, wrote that “[w]e are announcing the Gospel that welcomes the stranger and we will denounce those that block immigration reform.”
Wilker’s call for the denunciation of opponents of the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill was greeted with alarm by evangelical leaders who oppose the bill for policy reasons and reject the claim it reflects biblical principles.
“The rebuke of Rev. Wilker is ironic,” Kelly Monroe Kullberg, editor and co-author of Finding God at Harvard and organizer of Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration, an informal coalition that opposes the “Gang of Eight” bill, told Breitbart News. “Not only does the ‘Gang of Eight’ immigration bill not reflect balanced, biblical teaching, but the behavior, money trail and political tactics of its so-called ‘evangelical’ cheerleaders are unkind and unbiblical, as well.”
“It’s not clear why an ultra liberal Lutheran clergy should claim to speak for evangelicals in any sense,” Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy told Breitbart News. Tooley noted that Wilker’s “shrill denunciation of any political resistance to his insistent immigration agenda as anti-Gospel just illustrates an old time Social Gospel redefinition of Christianity in political rather than spiritual terms.”
While some leaders of the Evangelical Immigration Table have at times carefully parsed their words to give the impression that they were not calling for the passage of “immigration reform” specifically detailed in the “Gang of Eight” bill, Wilker was less cautious.
“It’s questionable to me,” he wrote, “whether enough U.S. representatives are tuned in to the voices of Americans. This is particularly true when I consider the lengths to which some members of the House are going to obstruct progress toward comprehensive immigration reform.”
Wilker called the House approach to immigration reform “disgraceful.” He wrote that “the House is taking a piecemeal approach to reform, one that stands in disgraceful contrast to the comprehensive reform bill, S.744, passed by the Senate last month.”
In June, evangelical leader Eric Metaxas, author of biographies of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and William Wilberforce, publicly withdrew his support from a letter on immigration reform offered by the Evangelical Immigration Table that set forward broad biblical principles but was used by the group’s leaders as a political weapon to support the “Gang of Eight” bill.
The Christian Post reported on July 24 that Metaxas emphatically rejected the Evangelical Immigration Table’s tactics and policies on the political issues surrounding immigration reform:
“When you sign on to something that says we agree with these values as Christians,” he said, but then “translate that into specific policy, like this Gang of Eight immigration bill – which I think is bad policy – then you really need to make that clear.”
Metaxas added that he withdrew support from the Evangelical Immigration Table “because he felt manipulated into supporting the ‘Gang of Eight’ bill, an early version of the legislation eventually passed by the Senate.” Metaxas subsequently joined Kullberg, and several other prominent evangelical Christian leaders in the Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration group.
The Institute on Religion and Democracy’s Tooley, who is also part of the Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration efforts, captured the views of many rank and file evangelicals on this attempt by a narrow elite to drape their political philosophies in the mantle of Christian theology. Tooley told Breitbart News that the alignment of “liberal Protestants of long declining denominations . . . with some evangelical elites pushing the Senate’s legalization first legislation should give many evangelicals pause and hopefully motivate them to reconsider.”