The PJ Tatler

Social Justice Evangelicals' Partisan Path to Immigration



Americans have a history of being very generous around the world and in their own communities. Their compassion does not end when it comes to the plight of those who genuinely seek a chance at the American Dream. Very few Americans would object to smart reform that benefits us all, but in the age of  “You have to pass the bill before you can see what’s in it,” of course you should expect distrust. We are told that this is not amnesty, that the border will be protected first, that it’s great for everyone, that we don’t have workers to take many jobs and so much more, but the trust is gone. People have heard this too many times and not seen it backed up with action. In light of this, it is to be expected that immigration reforms will be resisted.

However, it seems that a new approach in the fight for immigration “reform” has been very active lately. As resistance to sweeping immigration reform continues, it may be suggested that those who oppose are not expressing true Christian love towards their “noncomplaint” immigrant neighbors. When Alinksky wrote his famous list, he left out the use of the guilt factor, and as mothers throughout the centuries have always known, guilt is an effective tool. The “faux” evangelicals previously described here seem very adept at using this technique.

At first, it might seem cynical to suggest that people are using guilt or doing anything other than trying to advance true Christian understanding and love, but some participant’s past activities and associations lend credence to the suggestion of another agenda.

Among those involved are the Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT), G2, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) and as of this week, we can expect Sam Rodriguez to bring the entire global Hispanic evangelical movement along for the ride, as they have just merged with his NHCLC. Some of these groups have been shown to be sponsored by Soros.

The Christian Post headlines a constant barrage of stories on compassionate immigration reform, but many may not be aware that supporters Richard Land, Joel Hunter and Sam Rodriguez are all on the CP editorial staff. Under the circumstances, it would be difficult not to see their constant barrage of articles as propaganda.

The latest effort is a new “movement”, the Imago Dei Campaign, launched last month by leaders including Samuel Rodriguez (EIT and NHCLC), Roma Downey and Mark Burnet, James Robison and Jim Daly. It is promoted on the NHCLC site. The Imago Dei (latin for “image of God”) website declares, “For the image of God exists in all human beings: black and white; rich and poor; straight and gay; conservative and liberal; victim and perpetrator; citizen and undocumented; believer and unbeliever.” It offers a pathway for dialogue and persuasion: If gay people are to be afforded dignity as those made in the image of God, what does this require of our rhetoric? What does it require of our laws?”

Certainly, the majority of Christians would agree that we are to love one another, but accepting and even endorsing behavior that goes against your faith is quite another matter. The website, in that statement, makes it clear that there is a political agenda here, being masked as Christian love.

This blog post from their site, written by Michael Wear, makes it much more clear what Imago Dei is all about. He starts out with what seems to be a less-than-bipartisan opening:

Looking back, 2013 is likely to be remembered as the final collapse of the old, confrontational Religious Right in favor of a less partisan, more pragmatic approach.

Further along, he cites the studies that demonstrate how uncool a “Republican” brand of evangelical is. Of course, this is based on studies by Robert Putnam, who ran the communitarian Saguaro Seminar (see more below). Jim Wallis and Cornel West were among the glowing recommendations of their book, American Grace:

In 2010, respected academics David Campbell and Robert Putnam’s landmark book, American Grace, concluded that partisan politics was directly to blame for the rise of religiously unaffiliated Americans.

And, finally, the “new normal”:

I think we will look back at 2013 as a turning point in the Christian project to live out and project a holistic, positive, and hopeful faith. It was a year of establishing new norms, in religious life and in the life of our nation. 2014 will be about how we negotiate living with this new normal.

The author, Michael Wear, suggests that Americans are tired of the politics as usual (read “conservative politics”) and evangelicals need to leave that behind. Could he possibly have an agenda himself?

As one of President Obama’s “ambassadors to America’s believers” (Buzzfeed), Michael directed faith outreach for President Obama’s historic 2012 re-election campaign. Michael was also one of the youngest White House staffers in modern American history: he served in the White House faith-based initiative during President Obama’s first term.

Imago Dei just sounds like the latest in the constant attempts by Jim Wallis and associates to water down the conservative wing of evangelicals by putting forth movements, documents and manifestos for church leaders to sign. In 2008, it was An Evangelical Manifesto, which many leading conservative evangelicals were not even invited to sign. In 2010, it was Wallis’ Covenant for Civility, signed by many of the same EIU crew, such as Wallis, Bill & Lynne Hybels, Joel Hunter, Sam Rodriguez and Brian McLaren. Of course, the EIT also has its’ own list of principles to sign, unless you want to appear to lack compassion.

Perhaps some of the early lessons shared at the communitarian Saguaro Seminar gave birth to the type of new evangelism they seek to promote. “Third Way” evangelicals would certainly clear the path of those who stand in the way of some of the political issues currently being pushed. After all, look at some of the participants involved in that, who met repeatedly to discuss a communitarian approach. Then Senator Barack Obama was also an active participant in Saguaro:

Ralph Reed was the Executive Director of the Christian Coalition, the most successful effort of the past 30 years to build a broad, nation-wide, grassroots, civics and religious organization. Prior to this, he built the College Republican National Committee, and Students for America. He left the Christian Coalition to launch Century Strategies to use grassroots organization and insight to advise Republican gubernatorial, congressional and presidential candidates.
George Stephanopoulos was the Communications Director and Senior Advisor for Policy in the first Clinton Administration. He led efforts to encourage dialogue with voters on issues of public concern in New Hampshire living rooms and town forums. He is now Visiting Professor at Columbia University and regular commentator on ABC News. He is interested in how television can play in sparking new forms of civic engagement.
James Wallis co-founded Sojourners (a faith-based community and magazine). He is author, preacher, pastor and activist. He convened and coordinates the newly-formed coalition “Call to Renewal: Christians for a New Political Vision” that seeks to forge new, bipartisan, religious politics. His book, The Soul of Politics, focused on finding a moral order in policy.
Robert D. Putnam directs the Saguaro Seminar and is the Peter and Isabel Malkin professor of Public Policy at Harvard University. His “Bowling Alone” article and book sparked the resurgence of dialogue on issues of civic engagement in America. He is currently researching on the intersection of diversity, equality and social capital.
Juan Sepulveda directs The Common Enterprise in San Antonio which develops programs to bring San Antonians together around issues of common concern, encouraging them to form friendships across their differences. He also worked with the late Willie Velasquez on the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project. He is currently an advisor to Bill Bradley.
Vanessa Kirsch is the founder and CEO of New Profit, an “action tank” that fosters the development of a “New Profit” sector, combining for-profit accountability and entrepreneurship with non-profits’ focus on social mission and goals. Previously Kirsch founded Public Allies, a successful effort that utilizes young and diverse teams to revitalize community-based non-profits through national service.

Keep in mind that these groups are preaching love and encouraging people to drop the divisive politics, yet many of the participants themselves are very politically active. Jim Wallis, Sam Rodriguez and Dr. Joel Hunter are all serving as Obama’s spiritual advisers. Michael Wear also worked directly for Obama.  Soros has been shown to sponsor some of their activities. Their constant books, studies and report, such as their recent Brookings Institute study, “The End of a White Christian Strategy”, certainly gives the impression of a political campaign, not a movement of love. They advise evangelicals on the Right to stay out of politics, because their brand of Christianity is turning people off. Why is it acceptable for them to be so active in Leftist politics, yet suggest that the Right is destroying themselves by being politically active? That almost gives the impression of trying to squelch a dissenting voice.

It is not a lack of love and Christian understanding. It is a lack of honest leadership and it is certainly an overabundance of agenda driven activists. Fortunately, another evangelical movement is looking at the immigration issue with an eye towards a compassionate solution for both citizens and non-citizens. Those of us who would like to see a sincere, common sense effort made towards immigration reform can visit Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration (EBI) for a truly Biblical and evangelical approach.