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In Light of President Trump’s Comments, Evangelical Leaders Urge Solution for Dreamers

January 14, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C.  — Today, executives from the seven national Christian organizations that form the leadership of the Evangelical Immigration Table released a statement regarding recent reported comments from President Trump and the bipartisan Congressional negotiations over a legislative solution for recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

This joint statement follows additional statements on this topic from Evangelical Immigration Table organizations, including the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and World Relief.

“Jesus emerged from the despised and disregarded town of Nazareth, a reminder that we ought never pre-judge any person based on his or her community of origin,” they write. “These biblical values inform our national values as well. The United States was founded upon the conviction that all people are created equal—though, as Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded our country, we have not always lived up to that truth.

“Our president reportedly made statements recently that stand in opposition to these core biblical and American values. The President has now denied some of the reported language. We would hope that nothing approaching what was reported would ever be said by an American leader.”

The statement then calls upon Congress to work together for a solution for Dreamers.

Following initial reports on Jan. 11, the president’s remarks have been met with dismay across the faith community. The following are quotes from other evangelical leaders:

 Mark Labberton, President of Fuller Theological Seminary:

“As a fellow human being, as a citizen of the United States, as a seminary president, and specially as a disciple of Jesus Christ, I am horrified by and ashamed of Trump’s comments about Haiti and African countries, and their peoples…May this moment awaken a profound national lament, true repentance of racist hearts, and a fresh commitment to personal and systemic change that honors all human beings as creatures made in the image of God.”

Eugene Cho, Lead Pastor of Quest Church in Seattle, Washington:

“God loves the nations. The Scriptures make this clear. No one – let alone, the leader of a country – should ever disparage other nations with such a disgusting comment. To Haiti & many countries of Africa: We are so sorry. Please accept our apologies on behalf of President Trump.”

Ann Voskamp, Bestselling Christian Author:

“It’s not political but biblical to stand & say it is indefensible, incomprehensible, reprehensible & completely unacceptable to profanely disdain countries of People of Color, but entertain welcoming people of blonde hair. Demonizing people is the 1st step to justifying anything.”


New Poll: Evangelical Support for Immigration Reform Remains Robust

For a recording of today’s press call, click here.

March 11, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Support for broad immigration reform from Congress is strong among evangelical Christians, according to a new poll from LifeWay Research, an evangelical research firm.

More than two-thirds of the poll’s 1,000 respondents expressed support for reform that both boosts border security and provides undocumented immigrants an opportunity to earn legal status and eventual citizenship. Poll results are available online.

The following are quotes from local pastors and national evangelical leaders, across denominations and communities, who discussed the findings on a press call today:

Ed Stetzer, Executive Director, LifeWay Research:
“The survey results show that evangelicals are supportive of immigration reform, yet also wary about some of what that might include. Law and order seems to matter more, but families and faith issues seem to move evangelicals into the pro-immigration reform column. Considering the current political climate and the assumptions in the current political discourse, evangelicals are surprisingly open to immigration reforms.”

Evelyn Chaparro, Spanish Pastor, The River Church, Brandon, Fla.; President, Radio Genesis, Tampa:
“The stories that I hear day to day from those I pastor and from the listening audience of the radio station are very real and sometimes very heart-wrenching. There is real fear and insecurity, and that dominates the lives of the people I serve on a daily basis. We need to speak for those that can’t, and we need to recommend and support immigration reform consistent with biblical principles. Latinos and other ethnic minorities have particularly strong views on this topic. The results of this survey help us see where we agree and where we still need to work.”

Shirley Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities:
“It’s very interesting to see the alignment for younger evangelicals, which includes strong support for a pathway toward legal status and citizenship. Young evangelicals recognize that immigrants are people who share our values. I think that the future is with this group of young people, who want to see reform sooner rather than later. Not only is diversity essential for learning today, but it will only grow in importance. Our colleges and our student bodies want to be in the midst of the emerging diversity conversation because it prepares everyone for a global future.”

Kevin McBride, Senior Pastor, Raymond Baptist Church, Raymond, N.H.:
“These results are important and encouraging to me as a pastor to continue to help our congregations see that Biblical principles do apply to current issues and challenge people to be involved. As a pastor I see this issue as a biblical mandate for me in the context of helping the poor and disadvantaged in society. Evangelicals are not as one-sided as sometimes we’re made out to be on this issue. People in our churches want to know how Scripture applies to what we’re seeing in the daily news.”

Ryan Perz, Lead Pastor, Cornerstone Baptist Church, Orange City, Iowa:
“I’m personally concerned about immigration reform because of how it affects the community I live in. If you come and visit my community, it’s filled with many immigrant neighbors, working very hard … they’re a vital part of the community. As a pastor and a lover of Christ, I want to be obedient to his command to love my neighbor as myself.

“The polling results show that any candidate has a lot to gain and very little to lose by supporting immigration reform. As potential candidates come to visit, I hope they’ll take note of these findings.”

Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:
“Hispanic evangelicals are glad the new research by LifeWay Research shows broad and diverse evangelical support for commonsense immigration reform. Our prayer is that Congress can follow the example of this evangelical coalition and pass immigration reform this year.”

Jenny Yang, Vice President of Advocacy and Policy, World Relief:
“For years, many evangelicals have been responding to immigrants in their communities with compassion and by calling for immigration reform. What this new polling shows is widespread support for immigration reform among people in the pews. Evangelicals believe there is an urgency for Congress to reform our laws because they personally know immigrants who are affected, or they may be immigrants themselves. We hope Congress, instead of being swayed by the minority, takes up immigration reform that a majority of evangelicals across the country supports.”

Documentary Film Explores Biblical Response to Immigration

October 16, 2014

HOUSTONThe Stranger, a documentary film that looks at immigration from a biblical perspective, screened Tuesday at Pleasant Hill Ministries. The film highlights the stories of three families who are caught in our broken immigration system. It is available for download via

At a panel discussion following the screening, local evangelical leaders spoke about the immense human costs our immigration system exacts on churches, families and communities:

Dr. Steven Bezner, Senior Pastor, Houston Northwest Church:
“In a world filled with shrill tones and harsh words, it is more important than ever for the followers of Jesus to faithfully discuss, lead, and engage the important issues of our day. It is thrilling to see Christians working together on the issues of immigration. I’m excited about the possibilities if we work together.”

Pastor Harvey Clemons, Jr., Senior Pastor, Pleasant Hill Baptist Church:
“It is clear to those who are sensitive to human rights issues that there are systemic problems with our current immigration policy. The effect of this failed system impacts families, the economy and psyche of our nation, not to mention our relationship with the creator. For these reasons the faith community must be a light in the midst of the darkness that this policy has perpetuated. We at Pleasant Hill are honored to host the viewing of this film and invite those interested in understanding Scriptures call on this issue to join with us in a time of learning and dialogue.”

Graciela Saenz, Attorney, Saenz & Burkhardt, PLLC:
“Our God wants us to love our neighbor as ourselves. I begin with that premise and put myself in the shoes of those that seek something better in their future. God has blessed me with many opportunities to do this in my own life so I see myself over and over again in the eyes of those that are coming to our great country. I pray that God continues to open my eyes, my ears and my heart to my neighbors. This film seeks to show but a small amount of what God really has in store for us all to know and understand. We should be confident that He will provide us with the tools and wisdom to do what is right and good in His eyes.”


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ICYMI: Evangelical Immigration Table Ads Moved the Needle

September 8, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new study shows that Evangelical Immigration Table radio ads affected white evangelicals’ attitudes toward immigration reform.

As reported in the Christian Post, from February 2013 to February 2014, opposition to immigration reform among white Evangelicals decreased 15 percentage points, from 62 percent to 47 percent, in 16 states where ads ran. University of Pennsylvania political scientist Michele Margolis studied numbers from a sample of 2,000 adults who were interviewed in February 2013, September 2013 and February 2014.

In most of these same states, Table “mobilizers” have worked hard to engage evangelical pastors and evangelicals in the pews in a conversation about what the Bible says about immigrants and immigration, helping to reshape the Christian response.

The study compared attitudes in states without ads with those in the following states where ads aired: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.

Evangelical Immigration Table principals are available for interviews regarding these findings. Please contact Beau Underwood, or Dan Gordon.

Local Pastors, Prominent Guests Engage on Immigration

Pastors Discuss Biblical Perspective at Northwest Nazarene Conference

August 27, 2014

NAMPA — Local pastors and professors joined guests from Colorado and Arizona today at Northwest Nazarene University for a pastors conference, “Engaging Immigration: A Ministry Leader’s Conference on Thinking Biblically about Immigration.”

The conference, hosted by the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) and the Evangelical Immigration Table, included a panel discussion on the economic and moral imperatives for action on immigration reform and a screening of the film The Stranger, which has screened more than 2,100 times in 45 states this summer.

The following are quotes from participants in today’s panel discussion:

Dr. Pete Crabb, Professor of Finance and Economics, Northwest Nazarene University:
“Economic theory and empirical evidence show that immigration is good for the U.S. and its workers. When the Idaho agricultural industry wants to hire workers to pick produce, the residency of those workers shouldn’t matter. Any time we prevent mutually beneficial transactions, we reduce competition and all its benefits to society.

“Research using state-level data shows that immigrants expand the economy’s productive capacity, stimulate new investment, and boost productivity. States with higher immigrant worker populations have higher rates of output per worker. If we want competitive markets for the things we buy and if we are going to advocate for free trade throughout the world, we must also support free trade in the labor market.”

Adam Estle, Center Director, Refugio Phoenix:
“It is tremendously important for churches and faith leaders to engage the issue of immigration the same way we should engage any social issue: through biblical and compassionate lenses. Hopefully, people in the pews will love and care for their immigrant neighbors in greater and great ways. When the time comes for Congress to re-engage in the effort to fix our broken immigration system, we pray for a tidal wave of support from the evangelical community that will compel Washington to listen and respond in a way that brings a just immigration reform to the president’s desk as soon as possible.”

Michelle Warren, Director of Advocacy & Policy Engagement, CCDA, Denver:
“Immigration affects people — native and foreign born. We as a country cannot continue to allow partisan politics to define what we should do and how we should do it. The citizenry, especially those who call themselves Christians, must lead this conversation in our churches and in our communities and lead our legislators so that we can both establish and enhance opportunities for everyone that will move our country forward.”

Dr. Burton Webb, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Northwest Nazarene University:
“Throughout human history people have migrated around the globe. So immigration is not a new issue. Thousands of years ago the scriptures and other wisdom texts urged people to care for the immigrant. As people of faith we need to read, remember, and redeem.”

Join the conversation on Twitter using #EngageImmigration and follow the film @thestrangerfilm.

Colorado & Nebraska Evangelical Leaders Tour Border Agencies

August 20, 2014

MCALLEN, TEXAS— On Friday, local Colorado and Nebraska faith leaders and public officials joined the Christian Community Development Association in McAllen to tour facilities that help process and meet the immediate needs of family units and unaccompanied minors crossing the border.

The faith leaders gained first-hand knowledge of how communities are working together to address the current humanitarian need, and joined a roundtable discussion with other local and national faith, law enforcement and public sector leaders after the tour to discuss how to support children coming to local communities.

The following quotes are from participants in Friday’s tours and roundtable discussion:

Debra Bartelson, Legislative Policy Analyst and Co-Chair, Denver Latino Commission, Denver, Colo.:
“After my time in McAllen seeing the border relief efforts first-hand, I am left with many questions. The issue is overwhelming, and I am reminded of something Mother Teresa said when faced with enormous need, ‘if you can’t feed the millions, then just feed one.’ We as civic and faith leaders must collaborate with each other to both identify existing needs and combine our resources to do what we can to help.”

Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association, Chicago, Ill.:
“A delegation of CCDA Board members, staff and members from across the nation traveled to McAllen, TX to get a first-hand look at the humanitarian crisis with the unaccompanied children that is impacting our southern border. Along with being moved by seeing the children, we were inspired by the compassionate response of church, city and community leaders. Like these leaders, we are committed to offering our support as CCDA.”

Susan Shepherd, Councilwoman, Denver City Council:
“My biggest take-away from my time spent at the border in McAllen was how compassionate the response was from all entities, including the public and non-profit sector and the faith community. I was inspired by their grace, strength & commitment under fire. Not one person complained. McAllen has set the bar very high. I hope that if Denver is chosen to receive some of the unaccompanied minors, that we too will rise above the endless squabbling over immigration issues and recognize that these are humans fleeing horrible conditions in their own countries and in desperate need of safety, basic life necessities and compassionate and respectful treatment.”

Dr. Lois Svoboda, Missions Committee, The Presbyterian Church of Fremont, Neb.:
“Being a part of the McAllen border trip, I was able to see first-hand what is happening with refugees crossing our border. What I witnessed was an amazing network of collaboration between city, faith, and law enforcement leaders working together to address the pressing need. The media, who constantly shares the negative, has all but left out what I saw and experienced. There was no hostility only people in leadership who had a welcoming attitude. A leader from the city of McAllen shared that any person who crosses the boundary of McAllen should be welcomed and not asked where they came from. My hope for my Nebraska community is to learn from them and take a step forward to work together. I don’t believe that politicians who comment perpetually on the negative will be able to offer us solutions. We need to start with the faith community and look to them for the moral leadership that they can offer.”

Michelle Warren, Director of Advocacy & Policy Engagement, CCDA; Colorado and Nebraska Coordinator, Evangelical Immigration Table, Denver, Colo.:
“The issues surrounding immigration and our borders continue to loom large. It is very apparent that we do not have a secure border problem in our country but rather a global migration problem. Seeing the border, hearing from local law enforcement, public sector officials and faith leaders all addressing the needs of those crossing the border was both inspiring and insightful. What we hear in the news is not reflective of what is actually taking place. The community network of care that exists in McAllen is that story that should be lifted up. People are working together to meet the needs of people; help is taking place seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day.”

Join the conversation on Twitter using #Pray4Reform and #ccdaborder.

Letter Urges Congress: Protect Vulnerable Children, Respond with Funding

July 22, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C.Today the Evangelical Immigration Table is sending a letter to Congress, urging representatives and Senators to preserve laws that protect children and to help respond to migrant children with increased funding.

The letter comes as Congress considers not only the president’s supplemental budget request to respond to children who have migrated to the U.S., but also changes to laws designed to protect victims of human trafficking.

“Evangelicals are guided by Jesus’ admonitions to welcome and protect children (Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:37, Luke 18:15-17),” the letter states. “As our nation responds to this humanitarian crisis, we are thankful for laws that protect children and provide for their needs. While our systems are currently stretched, our laws uphold basic child protection principles.

The letter goes on to express concern about the possible weakening of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), enacted in 2008 and reauthorized in 2013. “The TVPRA ensures that victims of trafficking are not only identified and screened properly but that traffickers are penalized and brought to justice,” the letter states.

The letter also calls on Congress to ensure adequate funding for agencies that work with vulnerable immigrants including children, refugees and victims of trafficking: “We urge you to provide the necessary resources and policy guidance to address the current crisis, and then hold

the Administration accountable for fulfilling its responsibilities under the law. Robust funding is needed … Funds must not simply be transferred from one vulnerable population to another.”

The full letter is available here. Below are quotes from Table leaders regarding the letter:

Stephan Bauman, President, World Relief:
“Political expediency should not trump good policy. Many evangelicals worked hard to support the TVPRA in 2008 and in 2012 so to hear about potential rollbacks in protections for unaccompanied children is troubling. Urgent resources are needed to provide care for unaccompanied children, and Congress should support such funding needs without resorting to unnecessary changes in law that will weaken protections for children and be difficult to gain back if passed.

Dr. Russell Moore, President, Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission:
“The refugee situation at the border is a moral crisis. There are no easy fixes, but we must start by seeing these children as what they are: loved by God and created in his image. We need to respond to this crisis in a way that honors both human dignity and national security.”

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
“Children, created in God’s image, should never be unaccompanied, nor should they be exploited, trafficked or sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. I believe it is wrong for parents to send children to the U.S. border when the primary protective firewall for these children lies in a loving Christ filled home where faith, family and education stand prevalent. Correspondingly, as a nation and as people of faith, we must serve, heal and minister to those that have arrived in our nation because theirs, according to Jesus, is the kingdom of heaven.”

Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:
“The evangelical community has a moral and biblical commitment to protect the most vulnerable. Ensuring due process for these displaced children fleeing violence, and economic deprivation is part of our Christian witness. Yelling at defenseless children and women is not the way forward.”

Join the conversation on Twitter using #Pray4Reform.

ICYMI: Evangelical Leaders Call for Compassion at Border

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the U.S. government considers further responses to Central American children along our borders, evangelical leaders are urging a compassionate and just response.

“As a former Texan, my heart goes to the border of Texas. As a born-again Christian, the Gospel of Jesus Christ calls me to compassionate action for those who are suffering right now as a result of the immigration crisis, especially the children,” wrote Ronnie Floyd, President of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of the multi-campus Cross Church in northwest Arkansas. His Friday Baptist Press op-ed continues, “This is an emergency situation that requires the best of each of us in America … The Gospel of Jesus Christ moves me to call on all of us to demonstrate compassionate action toward the immigrant.”

And Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, wrote Sunday on his blog, “The gospel doesn’t fill in for us on the details on how we can simultaneously balance border security and respect for human life in this case. But the gospel does tell us that our instinct ought to be one of compassion toward those in need, not disgust or anger.” (Also posted in Spanish.)

Meanwhile, Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition and Pastor of The Lamb’s Church in New York, wrote Tuesday in TIME, “Legislative inaction has too high a cost. And when [immigrants] come to our shores seeking refuge from the tempest-tossed realities of violence and poverty, we cannot allow screaming crowds to be the voice of who we are as a people.”

Last but not least, Félix Cabrera, Hispanic pastor at Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, wrote Friday on the influential site The Gospel Coalition, “As a church, we are not called to condemn or to despise these children, even if they have broken the law. From my humble point of view, these children should be treated as refugees. For those of us who call ourselves Christians, the Bible tells us to welcome the stranger.” (Also available in Spanish.)

Join the conversation on Twitter using #Pray4Reform.

Evangelical Leaders to House Members: ‘We’re Not Going Anywhere’ on Immigration Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C., JUNE 24, 2014 — The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention hosted a screening of The Stranger, a documentary film that explores immigration from a distinctly Christian perspective, for congressional staff on Capitol Hill today.

More than 1,250 screenings in 40 states have been scheduled since the June 4 premiere of The Stranger. Following today’s screening, Dr. Barrett Duke, Vice President of Public Policy and Research for the ERLC, made the following statement:

“The faith community addresses this question from the moral perspective. We’re saying, let’s legalize these folks because they’re being abused, children are living in fear, and people are not living up to their full potential. The Cantor loss doesn’t make the need for immigration reform any less urgent, it doesn’t change the Bible’s thousands of years of guidance on immigration.

“We’re beyond the point of having to win this on principle or policy. We’re now just at the point of politics. We’re not going anywhere. The Southern Baptist Convention is going to continue to call for immigration reform until we get this done.”

Dr. Duke was joined by local and national evangelical leaders for a discussion on the moral imperatives for reform. They emphasized that for evangelicals, reform remains urgent:

Jon Ashley, Senior Pastor, The Presbyterian Church, Fremont, Neb.:
“I live and pastor in a community where immigration has really had an impact and has been a divisive issue. I’ve seen lives hurt, families torn apart, kids afraid that their parents aren’t going to be there when they come home from school. As a pastor my heart is aligned with God’s call to welcome the stranger and help those that are being hurt. Whatever the political climate is, the need for reform is still there. It just needs to get done.”

Pastor Patty Pell, Community Impact Pastor, Christ Community Church, Greeley, Colo.:
“I’ve spent a lot of time studying the legal codes of the Old Testament, which really show God’s heart for immigrant. Today, Christians are stuck between wanting to be law-abiding and caring for people, and immigrants are stuck there as well. The only way out is to reform the system. Someone has to decide to be courageous and do something because the public wants our members of Congress to act.”

Jenny Yang, Vice President of Advocacy and Policy, World Relief:
“Pastors are the ones dealing with the brokenness of the system in families in our local communities. Faith leaders bring a moral voice, but they also bring the stories of dealing with the impact of our broken system. The House is in a special position right now to act on reform. And now the debate isn’t a policy question, it’s a matter of when. There is a real urgency to get this done, and if we don’t, the brokenness in our communities is going to continue and is going to deepen.”

Join the conversation on Twitter using #Pray4Reform and follow the film @thestrangerfilm.


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