WASHINGTON -- Calling attempts by state and local authorities to address illegal immigration "misguided and divisive," liberal religious elites are slamming the supporters of a new immigration enforcement law in Arizona. The law instructs police to check the immigration status of individuals whom they detain and who give reason to believe they might be in the country illegally.
Arizona Episcopal Bishop Kirk Smith declared: "With the Governor's signing of SB 1070, it seems that for now the advocates of fear and hatred have won over those of charity and love."
Evangelical Left Sojourners chief Jim Walls, president of the liberal Christian group Sojourners, referred to the law as "a social and racial sin" as well as "mean-spirited."
National Council of Churches relief arm Church World Service chief John McCullough derided the legislation as "reactionary and hateful" while National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference President Samuel Rodriguez used the term "xenophobic" and called for a "multi-ethnic firewall against the extremists in our nation."
IRD President Mark Tooley commented:
"Instead of thoughtfully critiquing the law, these religious elites instead disparage the law's supporters.
"If they bothered to survey members of their own churches, religious officials would discover a wide spectrum of belief about immigration policy with many thoughtful and legitimate concerns. Instead, some church elites would rather condescendingly lecture down to those they caricature as advocating 'fear and hatred'.
"These church leaders are unclear, or unconcerned, about how liberalized immigration and eventual amnesty might affect America's unemployed, legal immigrants, law enforcement, or how a virtually open border only undermines attempts at economic and political reforms south of America's borders.
"Traditional Christian and Jewish teaching does not specifically offer an immigration policy for nations.
"Divine commands for fairness and justice do not automatically equal liberalized immigration, any more than they equate to socialized medicine, global warming alarmism, or American disarmament."
The Institute on Religion and Democracy, founded in 1981, is an ecumenical alliance of U.S. Christians working to reform their churches' social witness, in accord with biblical and historic Christian teachings, thereby contributing to the renewal of democratic society at home and abroad.