On Immigration, Will Christians Follow Their Faith?

July 19, 2010 12:15 pm ET — Melinda Warner

Evangelical Christians are known for supporting the anti-choice and anti-gay marriage platform of the Republican Party.  They say their faith helps to shape their political views.  Fine.

But what about the times when their faith teaches them to support policies that their political party opposes?  Do they pick their faith or their politics?

The New York Times reports that evangelical Christian leaders are fully behind President Obama's efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

Normally on the opposite side of political issues backed by the Obama White House, these leaders are aligning with the president to support an overhaul that would include some path to legalization for illegal immigrants already here. They are preaching from pulpits, conducting conference calls with pastors and testifying in Washington - as they did last Wednesday.

"I am a Christian and I am a conservative and I am a Republican, in that order," said Matthew D. Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, a conservative religious law firm. "There is very little I agree with regarding President Barack Obama. On the other hand, I'm not going to let politicized rhetoric or party affiliation trump my values, and if he's right on this issue, I will support him on this issue."

And yet, the concept of comprehensive immigration reform that protects Americans and immigrants alike from abusive employers, that keeps everyone safe by securing the border, and punishes those who have broken the law but also forgives and allows people to work towards redemption (and legal residency) still offends many of those on the fringes of the Christian Right.

As the Times also points out:

Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis for the American Family Association, a national conservative Christian organization in Tupelo, Miss., said, "What my evangelical friends are arguing is that illegal aliens should essentially be rewarded for breaking the law.

"I think it's extremely problematic from a Judeo-Christian standpoint to grant citizenship to people whose first act on American soil was to break an American law," said Mr. Fischer, who hosts a daily radio show on which immigration is a frequent topic.

The hateful, silly, wrong, and sinful opinions of Bryan Fischer are not unfamiliar to this blog.  And, unfortunately, his opinions on immigration ("We don't want to break up families, so let's help them all return to their country of origin.") are more common with Christian conservatives than some would like to admit.

But that position goes against what the Bible and Jesus teach.  Yes, the Bible says to obey the government...but it also says to treat others as you would be treated, to care for the poor, and to forgive.  It's time Evangelical Christians stop playing politics with their religion and start practicing what they preach.