Many evangelical leaders, denominations, and institutions have spoken out on the need for the Church to respond to immigration as a missional opportunity and to support just policy solutions to our broken immigration legal system. A sampling of those statements are below, with links:
National Association of Evangelicals Resolution, 2009 The significant increase in immigration and the growing stridency of the national debate on immigration compel the National Association of Evangelicals to speak boldly and biblically to this challenging topic. The complexity of immigration issues provides an opportunity to mine Scripture for guidance. A biblically informed position provides a strong platform for the NAE to make a contribution in the public square that will be explicitly Christian. Out of commitment to Scripture and knowledge of national immigration realities comes a distinct call to action.
Southern Baptist Convention Resolution, 2011 RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention… call on our churches to be the presence of Christ, in both proclamation and ministry, to all persons, regardless of country of origin or immigration status; and be it further RESOLVED, That we declare that any form of nativism, mistreatment, or exploitation is inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ; and be it further RESOLVED, That we deplore any bigotry or harassment against any persons, regardless of their country of origin or legal status; and be it further RESOLVED, That we ask our governing authorities to prioritize efforts to secure the borders and to hold businesses accountable for hiring practices as they relate to immigration status; and be it further RESOLVED, That we ask our governing authorities to implement, with the borders secured, a just and compassionate path to legal status, with appropriate restitutionary measures, for those undocumented immigrants already living in our country; and be it further
Bill & Lynne Hybels, Willow Creek Community Church Our faith informs us that we were all strangers and aliens once, separated from God. Because God was willing to include us in his redemptive plan, we “are no longer strangers and aliens, but [we] are fellow citizens” (Ephesians 2:18-19a). As Christians, we accept the biblical perspective that we are all sojourners on this earth, commanded to steward it while we await the full arrival of God’s eternal kingdom. Recognizing that we are all sojourners on this land, no matter what our legal status, compels us to extend solidarity to all. This deep sense of solidarity with others is a foundational truth of our country. We are a nation with historical roots grounded in immigration: out of necessity, many of our ancestors came to this country, and then found a home here.
Rick Warren, Saddleback Church The church must always show compassion, always. In Psalm 72, Solomon prays for power and fame but he says the purpose of influence is to speak up for others and one is the immigrant. He doesn't delineate between legal and illegal. I'm supposed to help people. A good Samaritan doesn't stop and ask the injured person. 'Are you legal or illegal?'
John Piper, Bethlehem Baptist Church I would like to see us as a country find a way to provide for illegal immigrants to stay but still have them pay a reasonable penalty. Such a solution would give honor to the law and show mercy to the immigrants, whose situations are so varied and so many. It's not an easy, black-and-white, "they disobeyed, so get 'em out of here" issue. There's a lot of exploitation. We've benefited a lot from these people, etc. As I've looked at both sides it seems that we could probably come up with a way to acknowledge that it is against the law (and we're not going to say that breaking the law doesn't matter), and yet we're not going to say that it's a simple and easy solution to try and ship 20 million of them back to Mexico. It's not going to work that way. Just like illegal parking is against the law and we are charged a reasonable fee when we're caught, so too we should charge a reasonable penalty for illegal immigrants but one that doesn't require them to return to their home country.
Pat Robertson, The 700 Club [Undocumented immigrants] are human beings, they’re human beings, and we need to do something to get an immigration law that makes sense and we don’t have one now. They’re getting hurt… A great nation can be compassionate and do something for them.
John Perkins, Christian Community Development Association/John M. Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation & Development Justice is a stewardship issue... [Immigration is] the great justice issue of our time.
Max Lucado, author I do have stronger feelings than others on immigration reform because we have so many people here in San Antonio who have lived as illegal aliens for a decade or two. If they were told to return to Mexico, it's not a realistic solution for many people I'm close to. I think finding a pathway to citizenship is a more responsible, respectful, neighborly approach to the solution.
Jim Daly, Focus on the Family From my perspective as a Christian, I think we need to do what Scripture says, and that is to extend a hand toward the alien in our land. And we need to show some compassion and find resolution to this.
Chuck Colson, Prison Fellowship/Breakpoint Ministries Christians must work to see that the immigration debate generates light instead of heat. We must insist that the illegal-immigration issue be addressed without treating millions of Americans, many of whom have died protecting our country, as a kind of fifth column. That is the very least we can do if we are obedient to God’s command to welcome strangers. And that’s a fact I got from the highest possible Source.
Mathew Staver, Liberty University/Liberty Counsel Mass deportation is impractical, immoral, and unjust. Many undocumented children came with their parents and many wives have followed their husbands. Some children are naturalized citizens, having been born in America. Yet, their parents remain undocumented. Deportation in these circumstances would rip apart families, which no fair-minded American wants to do. While undocumented felons or those who have committed violent crimes in America should be deported, we should invite the millions of undocumented and otherwise law-abiding persons living in our midst to come out of the shadows by providing them with an opportunity to gain legal status. The pathway for earned legal citizenship or temporary status should involve a program of legalization for undocumented persons in the United States, subject to appropriate penalties, waiting periods, background checks, evidence of moral character, a commitment to full participation in American society through an understanding of the English language, an understanding and affirmation of the rights and duties of citizens and the structure of America’s government, and the embrace of American values.
Samuel Rodriguez, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference We humbly encourage Congress to finally pass and sign into law legislation that will protect our borders, put an end to all illegal immigration, create a market driven guest worker program and facilitate avenues by which the millions of families already in America that lack... legal status can earn such status in a manner that reflects the Judeo Christian Value system this nation was founded upon... We urge both parties to repudiate all vestiges of xenophobia and nativism that saturates this debate. For the fact of the matter is that these immigrants are God fearing, hard working, family loving Children of God who reflect the values of our founding fathers and embrace the tenets of the American Constitution, The Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Moreover, our desire is for every immigrant in America to become a productive citizen, master the English language, embrace the core values of the American idea and realize the American Dream... Every day that passes without Comprehensive Immigration Reform adds tarnish to the soul of our Nation.
Tim Tennent, Asbury Theological Seminary 86% of the immigrant population in North America are likely to either be Christians or become Christians. That’s far above the national average…The immigrant population actually presents the greatest hope for Christian renewal in North America… This group that we want to keep out is actually the group that we most need for spiritual transformation… We shouldn’t see this as something that threatens us. We should see this as a wonderful opportunity.
Jim Wallis, Sojourners Changes to our immigration system will simply not happen without both courage and faith. For many of us, faith is a catalyst to action that can solve the really big issues—and this is one of the biggest ones we face now. People of faith will look beyond the political calculations and see this for the moral and family crisis it is. It will take people of faith to knock down the doors of Congress and bring the stories of immigrant friends, neighbors, and family members as evidence of the injustices that are experienced on a daily basis. Finally, we need faith in a God who is larger than we can imagine, the God who cries as we humans build border walls to separate ourselves from our brothers and sisters on the other side, the God of justice who isn't persuaded by the political timetables of Washington, D.C. It's time to stop playing politics with something that should have been dealt with long ago. The situation will only get worse for both citizens and immigrants if we don't resolve it now.
Christianity Today Editorial, 2009 How can churches best respond locally? While the Feds have control of our borders, Christians still have a powerful voice, by which we should call on political leaders to
- substantially improve border security and require law enforcement to use humane enforcement methods;
- provide better means for employers to check potential workers' status without violating privacy, and better prevent illegal recruitment of migrant workers;
- amend laws to end the backlog of immigration applications, provide viable pathways for otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants to resolve their residency status, and establish stronger family reunification programs; and
- create regional pilot programs for guest workers and their families with enforceable, market-sensitive guidelines.
Assemblies of God Resolution, 2006 As people of faith we support comprehensive immigration reform that reflects human dignity, compassion, and justice integral to a 'nation under God.' Apart from issues related to governmental jurisdiction, we believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ compels us to minister to all who live or work within our country. The Assemblies of God has also endorsed the National Association of Evangelicals’ 2009 Resolution.
The Vineyard USA Statement, 2009 We oppose and condemn all unjust and harsh laws, policies and measures directed against immigrants among us, whether documented or undocumented. We will act as advocates for just and humane policies and practices for all people by all levels of government and in all parts of society. The Vineyard USA has also endorsed the National Association of Evangelicals’ 2009 Resolution.
Evangelical Free Church of America Resolution, 1996 As evangelicals, we are called by God to aid the vulnerable. Therefore, we must see the alien and the stranger as individuals made in the image of God, the object of Christ's love and as people of intrinsic worth who are in need of our affirmation and support.