Baptist leaders join other evangelicals in call for immigration reform - Word&Way

Baptist leaders join other evangelicals in call for immigration reform

Prominent Baptists are among about 140 evangelical Christians who endorsed a statement of principles for immigration reform, which includes the call for a path to citizenship or legal status for qualified undocumented immigrants.

Suzii Paynter, director of the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, and Jesse Rincones, president of the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas, signed the statement, along with Bryant Wright, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and numerous other Baptist denominational leaders.

Richard Land, president of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, is among the leaders of the Evangelical Immigration Table, the coalition that drafted the statement of principles released at a news conference in Washington, D.C.

“Our national immigration laws have created a moral, economic and political crisis in America,” the statement said. “Initiatives to remedy this crisis have led to polarization and name calling in which opponents have misrepresented each other’s positions as order borders and amnesty versus deportations of millions. This false choice has led to an unacceptable political stalemate at the federal level at a tragic human cost.”

As evangelical Christian leaders, the signers of the statement called for a bipartisan solution on immigrant that meets six criteria:

• Respects the God-given dignity of every person.

• Protects the unity of the immediate family.

• Respects the rule of law.

• Guarantees secure national borders. 

• Ensures fairness to taxpayers.

• Establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents

“We urge our nation’s leaders to work together with the American people to pass immigration reform that embodies these key principles and that will make our nation  proud,” the statement concluded.

Baptist educators who endorsed the statement included Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Timothy George, dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University; Robin Hadaway, interim president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Russell Moore, dean at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Malcolm Yarnell, Daniel Sanchez and William Dembski, professors at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Lamar Cooper, professor at Criswell College; David Gushee, director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University; Dan Heimbach, professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Steve Lemke, provost at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; Ben Mitchell, professor at Union University; and Phil Roberts, former president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Other Baptists who signed the statement of principles included Rob McCleland, executive director of the North American Baptist Conference; Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research; Jonathan Merritt, author; Robert Mills, executive director of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists; Jim Wideman, executive director of the Baptist Convention of New England; and James Merritt, former SBC president and pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Ga.

In addition to Land, other leaders of the Evangelical Immigration Table are Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; Stephen Bauman, president of World Relief; David Beckman, president of Bread for the World; Noel Catellanos, chief executive officer of Christian Community Development Association; Luis Cortés, president of Esperanza; Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coaltion; and Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners.