Religious Denominations Embracing Illegal Migrants

Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 06:44 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Religious denominations that generally lean left politically, from Catholic and Methodist to Reform Jewish, are working to make illegal migrant children feel welcome in the United States, The New York Times reported. Some generally conservative-leaning evangelical churches along with mainline Protestant denominations are also joining the welcome bandwagon.

The support includes political lobbying on behalf of the migrants as well as practical assistance such as paying for legal representation and providing material help.

When he watched demonstrators on television yelling at migrants to "go home," archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan blogged, "It was un-American; it was unbiblical; it was inhumane."

In response to Republican Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad's statement that, "We can't accept every child in the world who has problems," clergy of the United Methodist Church rallied on behalf of the migrants.

The rabbi of a Reform Jewish temple in Texas, Asher Knight told the Times, "The question for us is: How do we want to be remembered, as yelling and screaming to go back, or as using the teachings of our traditions to have compassion and love and grace for the lives of God's children?"

Some evangelical groups are also backing the migrants. "This is a crisis, and not simply a political crisis, but a moral one," said Russell Moore, of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Times reported.

He added, "The first thing is to make sure we understand these are not issues, these are persons. These children are made in the image of God, and we ought to respond to them with compassion, not with fear."

Jesse Eaves, of the evangelical charity World Vision said, "As a Christian organization, we feel like we have no choice – we are clearly called by Scripture to respond to all children in need," according to the Times.

Republican lawmakers want to tighten immigration policies before agreeing to additional spending on the migrants. Democrats and many religious groups are opposed, leaving Congress deadlocked.

Some 57,000 children, mostly from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador have arrived in the United States since October 2013. The influx comes as lawmakers remain at odds about the larger question of immigration reform and what to do about the estimated  11 million undocumented aliens already in the United States.

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