Dear Mr. President,
The reality of why immigration reform is being treated like a hot coal stove by Republicans in the House became clear in a story that was told to me this week.
Even as a coalition of evangelical Christians keep beating the path for immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented, a tiny church in a Small Town, USA, red state is telling its parishioners that illegal immigration is wrong in the eyes of God. A pastor at the church even refused to marry a couple who were truly in love simply because the groom happens to be one of the 11 million undocumented. In fact, she told the bride that she will be damned to hell for marrying the man she loves because “he broke the law,” and that is “wrong in the sight of God.”
And so after more than a year of courtship and wedding planning, the wedding was called off with a huff, with the bride-to-be repeating to the groom that she could not go through with the marriage to him because it “is wrong in the sight of God.”
This is the state of mind in Small Town, USA, today—a state of ignorance fueled by preachings that use the Bible to scare people into supporting a continued opposition to reform despite the true teachings of the Bible.
As during slavery, so-called Christians are using religion to preach their interpretation of the gospel and the laws of the land. Ignored, of course, are the Bible’s own teachings, like Leviticus 19:33-34: “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
And again in Exodus 22:21: “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”
This is the educational campaign that should be pushed by the White House and the coalition of evangelical Christians, which will spend more than $400,000 on radio ads in 56 congressional districts in 14 states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin. The ad campaign will urge members of Congress to support immigration reform for most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
It has to happen now, especially because the House is expected to resume consideration of immigration legislation in October. The ads should not simply support the bill, but should be messages of education, as education is key to quelling ignorance, and passing on the true reasons why immigration reform is needed now, not later.
The writer is founder of NewsAmericasNow, CaribPR Wire and Hard Beat Communications.