Evangelical Leaders Across the US To Presidential Candidates: Consider A Biblical Perspective On Immigration

Authored by the Evangelical Immigration Table and originally published on evangelicalimmigrationtable.org

Evangelical pastors and leaders from Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina joined a virtual press call convened by the Evangelical Immigration Table and World Relief, urging presidential candidates  of all parties  to commit to be guided by biblical principles as they approach the topic of immigration. A recording of the call is available here.

The pastors and leaders echoed the message of a letter sent today that has been signed by more than 500 evangelical Christians across the country, inviting presidential candidates to take part in a 40-day Bible-reading guide known as the “I Was a Stranger” Challenge. 

The Evangelical Immigration Table and World Relief encourage all who want to understand what the Bible says related to immigration to utilize this free Scripture-reading guide, available at www.evangelicalimmigrationtable.com/iwasastranger

The following are quotes from pastors and leaders who participated in the press call:

Greg Christy, President, Northwestern College, Orange City, Iowa:

“Here in Sioux County, where I live, we have a growing number of Hispanic and Latino persons who have immigrated into our area and, frankly, have become wonderful additions to the community here… I just can’t say enough how important this issue is, following the Scriptures of a God who loves the fatherless, who loves the widow, who loves the stranger… We are called, as people of God, to love those who are around us, and for us in Sioux County this is a very real issue.” 

Rev. Joel Kok, Senior Pastor, Covenant Christian Reformed Church, Sioux Center, Iowa: 

“As I think about presidential candidates considering a biblical perspective on immigration, I think of President Abraham Lincoln seeking a biblical perspective regarding how to overcome slavery, while seeking healing, justice and peace for our nation and for all nations. As Lincoln stated in relation to liberation from slavery – and as we can apply to complicated questions regarding immigration – we can navigate as follows: ‘With malice toward none and charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in…’”

Neil Hubacker, Director, Cornerstone’s Church Ambassador Network, New Hampshire:

“Having traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border and talked to Border Patrol agents, I share the view of most evangelicals that we urgently need a more orderly, secure situation. But my interactions with migrants in church-based shelters along the border also underscore what I see among refugee and immigrant communities here in New England, which is that the people at the center of this debate are made in God’s image and should be spoken of in ways that affirm their dignity and value. Furthermore, many are fellow Christians who bring spiritual vitality and traditional Christian values with them to places like New Hampshire. I hope all candidates will look to the Bible and let it guide how they speak about these immigrant neighbors.”

Dr. Kevin McBride, Senior Pastor, Raymond Baptist Church, Raymond, New Hampshire:

“We need to move beyond a ‘sound bite’ idea that solving the immigration and refugee issue all hinges on what kind of wall you build and instead address the real needs of real people who are in real crisis. The solution starts with seeing the God-given value of every human life, and offering people the dignity, compassion and help that we would seek if we were in the same situation.”

Dr. Tony Beam, Policy Consultant, South Carolina Baptist Convention and Senior Director of Church and Community Engagement and Public Affairs, North Greenville University, South Carolina:

“Southern Baptists and other evangelicals are defined first and foremost by our commitment to the Bible. The Bible doesn’t give us a specific prescription for U.S. immigration policy, but it does give us some clear principles that can guide us and our elected leaders. God has ordained government with a mandate to ensure order and security, which is why evangelicals insist upon secure borders, but God has also instituted the family unit, so we want policies that keep families intact. And because God has made each human being in his image, we want to affirm the dignity of each immigrant both in our rhetoric and in the policies we pursue. South Carolinian evangelicals want candidates who will do the same.”

Mekdes Haddis, Project Director for Racial Justice and Reconciliation Collaborative, National Association of Evangelicals, Fort Mill, South Carolina:

“While some Americans think of ‘evangelical’ as a political descriptor, it is actually a theological term, rooted in a belief in the good news of the Bible. Evangelicals here in South Carolina and across the nation want elected officials who will reflect biblical principles as they speak about immigrants and advance urgently needed immigration reforms. We’re happy to join evangelicals from across the country in challenging presidential candidates of all parties to look to the Bible on this important issue.”

Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:

“Latino evangelicals, like evangelicals of other backgrounds, have nuanced views on immigration issues, rooted in our commitment to the Bible. The Scriptures affirm the role of government, which is why we believe it’s appropriate to insist upon secure borders, but they also repeatedly command God’s people to love, welcome and seek justice for immigrants. Most Latino congregations have done so for many years and have many immigrants among them as a result, so a commitment to immigration reforms has become very personal – and we take harsh, unbiblical rhetoric about immigrants personally as well. I challenge all candidates – Republican, Democrat or Third-Party – to take this Bible-reading challenge seriously and to pray that God would give them his heart as they approach this complicated issue.” 

Chelsea Sobolik, Director of Government Relations, World Relief:

“At the heart of what it means to be an evangelical Christian is a theological commitment to the authority of Scripture over every aspect of our lives – including how we think about immigrants and immigration. We strongly encourage all the presidential candidates to take the “I Was a Stranger” Scripture-reading challenge and allow the Bible to inform how they think about, speak about, and ultimately govern on immigration issues.”


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