Say you’re the Republican Party. Some of the most prominent national leaders of the Evangelical movement — one of your key constituencies — have started organizing in support of comprehensive immigration reform, gathering the attention of everyone from President Barack Obama to the New York Times. Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel speaks for many of these leaders when he tells the Times:
“I am a Christian and I am a conservative and I am a Republican, in that order. There is very little I agree with regarding President Barack Obama. On the other hand, I’m not going to let politicized rhetoric or party affiliation trump my values, and if he’s right on this issue, I will support him on this issue.”
What do you do? Do you listen to their preaching? It might be in your favor in the long run — as Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention said to the Times, immigration…
“…might split the old conservative coalition, but it won’t split the new one. And if the new one is going to be a governing coalition, it’s going to have to have a lot of Hispanics in it. And you don’t get a lot of Hispanics in your coalition by engaging in anti-Hispanic anti-immigration rhetoric.”
Or do you stick to your anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies, and fall back on part-time “religious experts” with little credibility in the faith community to support your position against some of America’s foremost faith leaders?
If last week’s House hearing on “The Ethical Imperative for Immigration Reform” is any indication, Republicans have chosen the latter. When Dr. Land, Dr. Staver and Bishop Gerald Kicanas of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops preached the consensus view of real clergy and faith communities across America that just and humane immigration reform is an urgent moral imperative, the Republican minority called up James R. Edwards, an “expert in everything” for the anti-immigrant “we think so” tank the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).