Evangelicals Urge Congress and Trump to Act on Immigration

Immigration

Evangelical leaders took out an ad in tomorrow’s Washington Post urging Congress and Trump to allow more refugees into the United States and keep the DACA program.  The letter was signed by Max Lucado, Beth Moore, and Jen Hatmaker, among others.  According to the Washington Post‘s Sarah Pulliam Bailey, none of the court evangelicals signed the ad.

Here is a taste of Bailey’s piece about the ad:

A diverse group of evangelical leaders have put their names on a full-page advertisement in Wednesday’s Washington Post urging President Trump and Congress to act on immigration and refugee policy, issues that have become especially divisive among conservative evangelicals.

Last year, a similar group took out an ad denouncing Trump’s attempt to ban certain refugees, a controversial executive order that has been caught up in legal battles during the past year. This year’s ad also includes controversial immigration issues that have been tied up in recent congressional battles.

It has some of the same signatures, including popular authors like Max Lucado and Ann Voskamp,  who have long focused on the welcoming part of immigration. However, it also adds some interesting names, including Bible teacher Beth Moore and popular author Jen Hatmaker, two women who have become increasingly vocal in the Trump era. Some of these leaders focus mostly on the Bible and spirituality and don’t typically get too involved in political issues.

Read the entire piece here.

A Few Court Evangelicals Meet With Nancy Pelosi on Immigration

SamuelRodriguez-a

Christianity Today has it covered.  A taste:

Many evangelicals won’t let partisan divides keep them from rallying for immigration reform, particularly the urgent push for congressional action to allow Dreamers—who entered the US as kids—to remain in America.

Several pastors and members of Trump’s evangelical advisory board met Thursday with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who they cheered for her defense of young immigrants fighting for legal status.

A prominent Democrat in Congress, Pelosi also happens to rank among evangelicals most-disliked politicians; more than half (55%) of self-identified evangelicals had an unfavorable view of her in a recent Politico/Morning Consult poll.

Yet Trump adviser and National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) president Samuel Rodriguez (also a CT board member) told Pelosi today that “America is a better place because of your prophetic leadership” on immigration.

Two more evangelical advisers—Maryland pastor Harry Jackson and Southern Baptist minister Jay Strack—as well as two other NHCLC leaders also participated in the meeting in Washington with Pelosi, fellow religious leaders, and Dreamers themselves.

“We’re joined together in the spirit of bipartisanship, compelled by our faith, to protect our Dreamers,” the minority leader said in a press conference streamed on Facebook Live.

Read the entire piece here.   The meeting was organized by court evangelical Johnnie Moore.

Glad to see this happening.

Court Evangelical: “God is not necessarily an open borders guy”

jeffress

Robert Jeffress says that Christians who support DACA (including the signers of this letter and Pope Francis) err on the side of compassion.  The court evangelical who is often found standing at the immediate right hand of the POTUS claims that God is not an “open borders” guy.

In this Fox News interview, Jeffress says that Christians are “confused about the difference between the church and government.”  For Jeffress, “government’s real responsibility is to protect its citizens.”

The interviewer, Ainsley Earhardt, concludes the interview by saying, “It’s tough because the Bible does tell us to honor our authorities, to follow the rule of law, to follow all of the laws–and the laws are clear in this situation–but also have compassion for others. So it is a tough topic.”  Jeffress responds with a hearty “yes” to this statement.

Though Jeffress does not mention it in this interview, his idea of government seems to arise from his interpretation of St. Paul’s epistle to the Romans, chapter 13.  Here is the pertinent part of that chapter:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Does anyone know where I can find a book or article or sermon where Jeffress develops his theory of government or interprets Romans 13?  Every time he mentions this text he sounds like he is an 18th-century Loyalist invoking Romans 13 in opposition to the American Revolution.  I wonder if Jeffress would go so far to say that the American Revolution–a rebellion against the God-ordained governing authorities of England–would have been carried out in violation of this biblical principle.  I wonder if he would agree, for example, with evangelical pastor John MacArthur‘s conclusion that “the United States was actually born out of a violation of New Testament principles, and any blessings God has bestowed on America have come in spite of that disobedience by the Founding Fathers.”  Somehow I don’t think he does.

Pope to Trump: If You’re Really Pro-Life You Won’t End DACA

Trump and Pope

Here is a taste of Nicole Winfield’s reporting at Religion News Service:

BOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) — Pope Francis is urging President Donald Trump to rethink his decision to end a program protecting young immigrants from deportation, saying anyone who calls himself “pro-life” should keep families together.

“If he is a good pro-life believer he must understand that family is the cradle of life and one must defend its unity,” Francis said during an in-flight press conference en route home from Colombia.

Francis said he hadn’t read up on Trump’s decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Children Program, which allows some immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children to stay. About 800,000 people are affected by Trump’s decision to give Congress six months to end their limbo status.

But he said in general, removing children from families “isn’t something that bears fruit for either the youngsters or their families.”

“I hope they rethink it a bit,” he said. “Because I heard the U.S. president speak: He presents himself as a person who is pro-life.”

Read the rest here.

Nice work, Francis.

 

Coalition for Christian Colleges and University on the End of DACA

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Here is the CCCU’s statement:

Today it was announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) will end in six months without congressional action. The CCCU urges Congress to act immediately. We stand with the nearly 800,000 DACA participants, as well as their families, fellow students, teachers, co-workers, employers, and others with whom they interact, who are devastated and directly impacted by this news. This decision will have far-reaching consequences for these valuable, deeply loved individuals, and so we call on Republicans and Democrats alike to look past party lines and come together to create a legal solution that respects both the God-given dignity of every person and the rule of law.

The people participating in DACA have lived in the United States since they were children, and their life in the United States is all they know. In order to participate in DACA, they have all been thoroughly vetted, registered with the federal government, undergone background checks, and paid fees in exchange for peace of mind in the form of protection from deportation and work authorization. This greater certainty allowed participants to deepen their involvement with and contribution to their communities, including as students in CCCU institutions.

As I mentioned in my recent letter to President Trump, we support ambitious, driven, intelligent students who have dreams of contributing to their communities and want to pursue an education. If Congress does not act to replace the essentials of the DACA program, the federal government is hurting both participants and those who benefit from their contributions. The Cato Institute estimates that repealing DACA will cost the government $60 billion and the economy $200 billion over 10 years.

We recognize that the situation is complicated. The current administration is faced with the same broken immigration system that has existed in the United States for far too many years, and too many people, like those in the DACA program, have been caught in the midst of uncertainty. Now is the time for Congress to get to work – but time is short. We support such proposed legislation as the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act and the Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act as ways to achieve this goal. We urge our lawmakers: Make the hard calls. Protect these individuals who call the United States their home but, through no fault of their own, entered the country illegally. Use an incremental approach or use a comprehensive approach—but please don’t use the excuse that it cannot be done.

We will continue to advocate for policies that recognize the dignity with which God has endowed all people, regardless of their ethnicity, race, or legal status, alongside our friends on the Evangelical Immigration Table and other partners in this work, like the National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC), the National Hispanic Leadership Conference (NHCLC), the American Council on Education (ACE), and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU).

***

The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities is a higher education association of more than 180 Christian institutions around the world. With campuses across the globe, including more than 150 in the U.S. and Canada and nearly 30 more from an additional 18 countries, CCCU institutions are accredited, comprehensive colleges and universities whose missions are Christ-centered and rooted in the historic Christian faith. Most also have curricula rooted in the arts and sciences. The CCCU’s mission is to advance the cause of Christ-centered higher education and to help our institutions transform lives by faithfully relating scholarship and service to biblical truth.

An Outline of the August-September 2017 Chapter in a Future Trump Biography

Trump Arpaio

Trump and Joe Arpaio

Future historians will not miss this.  We like to connect the dots and see trends.  The Trump presidency is only seven months old and there is already enough material to write an entire book on Trump and the politics of race.  But just think about the last several weeks:

I.  Charlottesville (August 12, 2017):  Trump draws a moral equivalence between white supremacists and the people protesting against white supremacists. White supremacists were thrilled.

II. Arizona (August 25, 2017): Trump pardons Sheriff Joe Arpaio from a jail sentence he was given for disregarding a court order in a racial-profiling case.  Trump’s base was thrilled.

III. Washington (September 5, 2017):  Trump ends the DACA program, leaving over 800,000 young people in limbo for the next six months about whether or not they will be deported.   Trump’s base is very happy.

What do these three things have in common?

The Court Evangelical Spin on DACA

Trump court evangelicals

Believe it or not, the court evangelicals have managed to spin this entire DACA fiasco in their favor.

According to Heather Sells’s article at Christian Broadcast Network News, court evangelicals Tony Suarez, Jentezen Franklin, Bishop Harry Jackson, and Johnnie Moore are patting themselves on the back for speaking “truth to power.”

It seems the court evangelicals believe that they were influential in convincing Trump to wait for six months before he deports 800,000 children of immigrants who came into the United States illegally.  It seems the court evangelicals are optimistic that Congress will get its act together and pass legislation that protects the DACA recipients.

Here is a taste of Sells’s piece:

Evangelicals on the President’s informal faith advisory board believe their access to the White House made a difference in protecting young immigrants from an immediate end to what’s known as the DACA program.

Rev. Tony Suarez, executive vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), told CBN News Tuesday, “I feel like our work on the faith advisory council is vindicated today…this is precisely why we joined way back in the campaign last year because we felt if we had access to this office, if we had access to this man we needed to speak truth to power, believing that at some point God would touch, God would convict and there would be compassion for children.”

Members of the president’s faith advisory council met with him and White House officials on Friday and discussed DACA as well as other political priorities. Council member Bishop Harry Jackson attended and told CBN News he thinks the board helped to make a difference for Dreamers–as those in the DACA program are often known. “The evangelical church had the president’s ear,” he said calling the six month extension “an extreme act of mercy.”

I understand the argument, but is this really speaking truth to power?  Are these court evangelicals really patting themselves on the back for placing nearly 1 million Americans in a state of constant anxiety about their future?  Will the DACA recipients be gone in six months–deported to the countries of their birth? (The video below suggests that the Department of Justice has already told them to start packing).  Will they get a reprieve from Congress?  Is Trump so wed to his anti-immigration/law and order base that he is incapable of showing empathy for these people?  And then, to top it all off, he tweeted last night that he might revisit DACA if Congress does not come through.  Is he for DACA or against it?  If he will revisit it in 6 months why not revisit it now?  Where is the presidential leadership here?  Lead, Donald.  Please lead!

I don’t know what role the court evangelicals played in this whole situation, but I find it hard to believe that any evangelical would be happy with the results.  Once again Barack Obama has driven the court evangelicals off the moral playing field.

Watch this video:

 

Obama on Trump’s Decision to End DACA: “Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question.”

From Obama’s Facebook page:

Immigration can be a controversial topic. We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill can have legitimate disagreements about how to fix our immigration system so that everybody plays by the rules.

But that’s not what the action that the White House took today is about. This is about young people who grew up in America – kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag. These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides English. They often have no idea they’re undocumented until they apply for a job, or college, or a driver’s license.

Over the years, politicians of both parties have worked together to write legislation that would have told these young people – our young people – that if your parents brought you here as a child, if you’ve been here a certain number of years, and if you’re willing to go to college or serve in our military, then you’ll get a chance to stay and earn your citizenship. And for years while I was President, I asked Congress to send me such a bill.

That bill never came. And because it made no sense to expel talented, driven, patriotic young people from the only country they know solely because of the actions of their parents, my administration acted to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people, so that they could continue to contribute to our communities and our country. We did so based on the well-established legal principle of prosecutorial discretion, deployed by Democratic and Republican presidents alike, because our immigration enforcement agencies have limited resources, and it makes sense to focus those resources on those who come illegally to this country to do us harm. Deportations of criminals went up. Some 800,000 young people stepped forward, met rigorous requirements, and went through background checks. And America grew stronger as a result.

But today, that shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again. To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel. What if our kid’s science teacher, or our friendly neighbor turns out to be a Dreamer? Where are we supposed to send her? To a country she doesn’t know or remember, with a language she may not even speak?

Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question. Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us. They are that pitcher on our kid’s softball team, that first responder who helps out his community after a disaster, that cadet in ROTC who wants nothing more than to wear the uniform of the country that gave him a chance. Kicking them out won’t lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone’s taxes, or raise anybody’s wages.

It is precisely because this action is contrary to our spirit, and to common sense, that business leaders, faith leaders, economists, and Americans of all political stripes called on the administration not to do what it did today. And now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it’s up to Members of Congress to protect these young people and our future. I’m heartened by those who’ve suggested that they should. And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel.

Ultimately, this is about basic decency. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people – and who we want to be.

What makes us American is not a question of what we look like, or where our names come from, or the way we pray. What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals – that all of us are created equal; that all of us deserve the chance to make of our lives what we will; that all of us share an obligation to stand up, speak out, and secure our most cherished values for the next generation. That’s how America has traveled this far. That’s how, if we keep at it, we will ultimately reach that more perfect union.

A Court Evangelical Backs Trump’s DACA Decision

It looks like Trump is doing away with the DACA program.

300 evangelical leaders support DACA and urged Trump to keep the program.  These include religious leaders associated with the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the National Association of Evangelicals, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, World Relief, and World Vision.

Court evangelical Pastor Mark Burns is not one of these evangelical leaders.  As Warren Throckmorton noted today, Burns has tweeted in support of Trump’s decision to end DACA.

Make America Great Again.

Where are the Court Evangelicals Tonight? (DACA)

Donald Trump threw another bone to his base today by announcing the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  Read about it here.

New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman offers some nuance:

So far, the only court evangelical who has said the ending of the DACA program is unjust and unChristian is  Samuel Rodriguez.  I hope that Rodriguez used his unprecedented access and “God-given assignment” to rebuke the president for this decision.  I hope he did everything in his power to change Trump’s mind.

So far the rest of the court evangelicals have been silent.  Apparently 300 religious leaders urged Trump to keep the DACA program, but I have not been able to find a list of those leaders.  I will be surprised if there are any court evangelicals on the list apart from Rodriguez.

In the video below, court evangelical Robert Jeffress praises his own prayer in the White House last week as part of the most disturbing display of court flattery I have ever seen.  Where was the discussion of DACA at this meeting? Why didn’t the court evangelicals use their access to the Oval Office to defend these helpless children of immigrants who may soon be deported?  This, it seems to me, is a pro-life issue.  These kids may be ripped from their families and sent to a foreign country to live.  Yet the court evangelicals preferred a photo-op and a round of flattery.  I hope Jeffress will be praying for the 800,000 men and women who will be deported when and if the DACA program is ended.

 

Evangelicals Defend the Dreamers

Dreamers

Obama and Biden meet with Dreamers in Oval Office

There are evangelical Christians and there are evangelical Christians.  The evangelicals covered in Kate Shellnut’s Christianity Today piece want to defend the Dreamers.  Trump is on the verge of deciding what to do about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Here is a taste:

In response to a threatened September 5 lawsuit by 10 conservative state attorneys general, the President is expected to soon tighten or terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which has allowed 800,000 “Dreamers” over the past five years to work and attend school without the threat of deportation.

Among them are many young church leaders. Hispanic Americans are one of the fastest-growing demographics in evangelicalism, surging in Pentecostal and Assemblies of God traditions as well as among Southern Baptists, where a majority of new church plants are now non-white.

“Open the door,” Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC), told fellow believers this week. “Perhaps they’re the next missionaries that you’re opening the door for.”

Dreamer Juan Garcia, a campus pastor at the University of South Florida, wouldn’t have his diploma or his ministry position without the Obama-era program. “DACA was one of the doors God used to make him an Assemblies of God Chi Alpha missionary,” Salguero said.

The Evangelical Immigration Table, including leaders like National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) president Leith Anderson and Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) president Russell Moore, wrote the President and congressional leaders this week to tell them that Dreamers are “leading in our churches and our communities” and to “find solutions that allow these young people to stay in our country long-term and continue to be a blessing to our communities.”

Read the rest here.  What role are the court evangelicals playing on this issue.  Who, beyond Samuel Rodriguez, is whispering in Trump’s ear?