Strong Latino attendance at evangelical churches is prompting leading ministers to come out in favor of immigration reform.
A group of pastors has launched a 40-day campaign to have churchgoers pray, read scripture passages about welcoming the stranger and lobby their members of Congress, many of them in the conservative South, Reuters reports.
“We have pastors preach in pulpits to parishioners in Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas – in all the wonderful red states across America,” that aiding immigrants, illegal or not, is a Christian duty, said Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, one of the country’s most prominent Hispanic evangelicals, in the article.
Their toughest audience, though, is going to be Republican lawmakers, who usually side with evangelical churches on societal issues, but have resisted embracing President Obama’s immigration reforms that include citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
“Some of them don’t necessarily see or acknowledge the changing demographics or the electoral merits of passing immigration reform, but I do think that many of these religious leaders could push them in that direction by really referencing the humanitarian interest, or moral argument,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell.
Rodriguez and other pastors are speaking to members of Congress “on a daily basis” to ask them to legalize the status of 11 million undocumented immigrants. Targeted lawmakers include Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, who chaired a House hearing on immigration last week, and Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho – a leading Tea Party thinker on immigration.