With Congress stalled on immigration reform, Latino religious leader Samuel Rodriguez announced Monday that he would engage in his own form of protest to encourage action: a 40-day hunger strike.
“In the spirit of Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and other leaders who have acted on the moral imperative to do justice, as well as our ultimate example found in Jesus, I likewise sense an urgent conviction to engage in the spiritual exercise that in my faith narrative produces great results,” Rodriguez wrote in a press release announcing the hunger strike, reported Fox News Latino.
Rodriguez, who is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), is also active in conservative politics. He delivered he benediction at last year’s Republican National Convention, and was among the religious leaders who President Obama invited to the White House to discuss immigration reform.
“It’s a new day,” Rodriguez said at the time. “In 2013 the recent polls indicate … the majority support comprehensive immigration reform. It has been inspiring to see the Christian community coalesce around immigration reform.”
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Rodriguez put pressure on his fellow evangelical pastors to support reforms that would pave the way to give undocumented immigrants legal status. He also advocates tightening border security and expanding guest worker visas.
While the evangelical Christian community was initially hesitant to embrace immigration reform, Rodriguez and the NHCLC have managed to gain wide support for the reforms on the principles of justice, peace and righteousness in the community, reported bilingual Spanish newspaper Hola Arkansas.
Rodriguez has encouraged other Christians to join him in the fast, according to the Christian Post.
“There are 11 million plus children of God waiting for the opportunity to come out of the shadows. While I cannot condone how all have come, I do understand why they came,” said Rev. Tony Suárez, Virginia chapter director for NHCLC.
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“The United States is the proverbial ‘Promised Land,’” he added. “While living in nations ravaged by drug wars, socialism, religious intolerance, and extreme poverty, they heard that in America there is freedom and opportunity. They read that America was founded by immigrants who came seeking the same freedom and opportunity they now seek.”
Hola Arkansas noted that Rodriguez’s fast will last through Thanksgiving, undoubtedly a true test of discipline.