Despite having no religious standing whatsoever, the anti-immigrant lobby has launched an unprecedented attack on religious denominations in response to the National Association of Evangelicals’ (NAE) recent statement in support of immigration reform and compassion for immigrant families.
Roy Beck, executive director of NumbersUSA, an anti-immigrant Internet group, told Congressional Quarterly  that “about a third of our members are evangelicals…We let them know, and they immediately started hammering their denominations.” While evangelical leaders called for tolerance and a pragmatic approach to immigration, Beck fumed to his Internet followers that evangelical leaders “bring discredit on their religious faiths from their sloppiness in truth seeking and their lack of intellectual integrity.”
Beck’s call has been echoed on white nationalist websites (1 , 2 ) and by Mark Krikorian, executive director of NumbersUSA’s partner “think tank,” called the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). Krikorian declared that “for religious organizations to get involved in this issue is really not appropriate.” Actual religious leaders disagree. In addition to the NAE, hundreds of denominations and communities of faith have made similar calls, including 500 national and regional denominations and religious organizations who signed a recent interfaith statement supporting comprehensive immigration reform and calling on Congress to act.
Krikorian’s CIS also recently hosted a four-person press event to school religious leaders; three out of the four speakers were CIS staff. And CIS released a report by John R. Edwards, principal of the “Man in the Action Group,” claiming to provide a more authoritative interpretation of the Bible than the one provided by actual religious leaders. Edwards is also the author of CIS reports which purport to correct the perspectives of nationally-recognized law enforcement officials on how to improve community safety, among other issues.
According to Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice:
“On matters of faith and pastoral care, I think it is fair to say that religious leaders speak with more authority than anti-immigrant hardliners like Roy Beck and Mark Krikorian.
“In fact, the resolution in support of comprehensive immigration reform approved without dissent by the National Association of Evangelicals was ‘carefully and prayerfully developed with biblical reflections and extensive consultations among evangelical leaders,’ according to Galen Carey, the association’s director of government affairs, who was quoted in the Congressional Quarterly article mentioned above.
“Meanwhile, the anti-immigrant lobby hired the same man to pretend to know law enforcement better than America’s police chiefs one week, and then claim to know the Bible better than the moral authority of nearly all of our nation’s religious leaders the next. It looks like the Center for Immigration Studies called the press to a staff meeting and called it a ‘panel of experts’.”
Below is a partial list of the religious denominations and organizations that Roy Beck and Mark Krikorian believe have misinterpreted the Bible and other religious texts on issues of immigration:
National Association of Evangelicals
Assemblies of God
Brethren in Christ Church
Christian Reformed Church in North America
Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.)
Church of the Nazarene
Evangelical Free Church of America
Fellowship of Evangelical Churches
Grace Communion International
The Foursquare Church
International Pentecostal Holiness Church
Missionary Church, Inc.
The Vineyard, USA
The Wesleyan Church Corporation
American Friends Service Committee
American Jewish Committee
Church World Service
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
Interfaith Worker Justice
Islamic Information Center
Jesuit Refugee Service
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Mennonite Central Committee
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
Presbyterian Church USA
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Institute
The Immigration Issues Offices of the Presbyterian Church USA
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
US Conference of Catholic Bishops
 Beck’s quote appears in a November 2nd Congressional Quarterly article titled Vantage Point, Evangelicals Now Getting Heat on Immigration, by Shawn Zeller. The article is available by subscription only.