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National Association of Evangelicals: “Love Thy Immigrant Neighbors"

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National Association of Evangelicals: “Love Thy Immigrant Neighbors” Anti-Immigrant Lobby: “Hammer Their Denominations

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 [1] 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

Elim Fellowship

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

Episcopal Church

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

World Relief


[1] 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.