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Southern Baptists and Mormons Come Out in Support of Legal Status For Undocumented Immigrants

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PrayerMy colleagues just came back from Netroots Nation cheering the inclusion of immigration reform squarely on the progressive agenda.  While they were geeking out in Minneapolis, the Southern Baptists were getting busy at their own convention in Phoenix, passing a resolution in support of immigration reform.  

That’s right: THE Southern Baptists — the largest, and one of the most conservative denominations of Evangelicals in the country.

Just the week before that, the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (LDS) joined the ranks of immigration reform supporters.  The Mormons are arguably the other most conservative, large denomination in the country. 

This is huge.

These are the constituents and organizations that conservative politicians most care about.  They are the ones who vote, donate money, and provide them moral legitimacy. Each time one of these churches speaks up (staking a moral claim for immigrants to “square themselves with the law,” as the LDS statement described it), the conservatives in Congress who have been blocking immigration reform for years, claiming to represent their constituencies, have a little less ground to stand on. 

Yesterday’s Arizona Republic notes:

When it comes to immigration reform, faith leaders and the public get it. Politicians need to catch up…

Faith leaders do not support illegal behavior. They have grappled with the inherent conflict of supporting people who have entered the country illegally and recognized the need to move beyond the simplistic refrain of “What part of illegal don’t you understand?”

That refrain led to a law in Arizona that invites racial profiling and a new law in Alabama that targets schoolchildren. These and other misguided laws, as well as the ugly rhetoric and the wild accusations that have been aimed at undocumented workers and their families, show a clear need for strong leadership.

The churches deserve credit for stepping up and reminding their followers of the importance of humanity and compassion.

The Baptists’ resolution also said:

We deplore any bigotry or harassment against any persons, regardless of their country of origin or legal status.

Dare we say “amen?”