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Shalom, Amigos: The Changing Faces of Christian Zionism

When Tony Suarez lost his wife to cancer last year, the Passover song he learned at his first Seder meal only months before became his anthem.

Just as the Jewish people sing dayenu—“it would have been enough”—about God saving them from the plagues and leading them out of Israel, the Virginia pastor proclaimed that God’s faithfulness was enough, even without the miracle he had prayed for.

“That song meant everything,” said Suarez, vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC). “And we wouldn’t have known it if we hadn’t been in a synagogue.”

Suarez is helping to lead a movement among Latino evangelicals that aspires to change the face of Christian Zionism in America.

For the past few years, the NHCLC’s Hispanic Israel Leadership Coalition (HILC) has brought Latino churches—some with blue-and-white Israeli flags in their sanctuaries and Hebrew songs in their worship sets—together with pro-Israel and Jewish groups.

The coalition has organized seminars, trips to the Holy Land, and sit-downs with Israeli politicians in order to make Hispanics “the most pro-Israel, pro-Jewish demographic.” With arms extended and flags waving, its members pray with their congregations for the peace of Jerusalem and the well-being of Israel.

In addition to events in places like New York, Florida, and Washington, DC, HILC leaders have also advocated across Latin America against anti-Semitism and for the Jewish state. For example, Orlando pastor Carlos Ortiz has joined advocates for Israel in Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua. Nicaragua reestablished a diplomatic relationship with the Jewish state earlier this year after a seven-year break.

But the HILC still has work to do. In a recent LifeWay Research study sponsored by the NHCLC and the Philos Project, 45 percent of Hispanic American Christians said they view Israel positively while 26 percent view it negatively and 28 percent are not sure how they feel.

“It was not surprising that the [plurality] had a positive perception of Israel. But we weren’t aware how much they didn’t know,” said Jesse Rojo, Hispanic affairs director for Philos, a nonprofit that encourages Christian engagement in the Middle East.

In the survey, about a third of Hispanic Americans responded that they were unsure about their own positions on the state of Israel, its theological significance, and levels of US aid to the country. This ambivalence and uncertainty proved to organizers the need for further education and engagement among Latinos.

“We realized we’re at a pivotal point,” said Rojo, who has enlisted pastors, Latino singers, and Spanish-speaking theologians to partner on the issue.

While Hispanic Christians are more likely than the average American to support the state of Israel, their views don’t typically shape their politics. More than half told LifeWay that a politician’s stance on Israel doesn’t impact their vote.

HILC leaders have focused on changing that perspective, reminding Latino evangelicals—who may come from countries where they had to keep faith and politics separate—that they have a political voice here in the United States, said Suarez, who serves on President Donald Trump’s evangelical advisory board along with NHCLC president (and CT board member) Sam Rodriguez.

Hispanic evangelicals are more comfortable with policy activism than the rest of the Hispanic population, including Catholics and mainline Protestants. In a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, 61 percent said they believe churches should express their views on political issues.

“We don’t detach history from Scripture and the greater story of God’s redemption,” Rojo said. “We don’t see what happens at the policy level as completely separate from what happens in Scripture.”

For decades, Hispanic immigrants and converts have been a boon to the US evangelical church. And as the largest ethnic minority within evangelicalism, their increasingly vocal stance on Israel is starting to have an impact.

“American Zionists have tended to be white because evangelicalism here has been dominated by whites,” said Gerald McDermott, editor of The New Christian Zionism. “But now as American evangelicals are changing colors, so is Zionism.”

McDermott, a Beeson Divinity School professor, points out that global Zionism has always contained racial diversity, from Ethiopian Jews to the Nigerian Christians who number among Israel’s tourists each year.

“The Jewish story of liberation from slavery in Egypt has always resonated with the black church,” he said. “It is no surprise that blacks are often numerous in messianic Jewish congregations.”

Conservative black churches have been among those resisting the Black Lives Matter movement’s pro-Palestinian position. “This has been a polarizing moment not only for black churches but also for predominantly white and multiracial religious institutions,” said Roger Baumann, a sociologist at Yale University.

While white evangelicals have historically been the most pro-Israel Christian group in America, black Protestants have been the least. Baumann’s research, published last year in the journal Sociology of Religion, found that black pastors who promote Israel rely on prosperity gospel themes and promises of blessing (such as the “I will bless those who bless you” of Gen. 12:3) rather than the liberationist narratives often affiliated with their tradition.

“African American Christian Zionists tend to come from more theologically and politically conservative black churches, where there is a theological narrative about the State of Israel that overlaps with the kind of Christian Zionism prominent among white evangelicals,” Baumann said. “That is, in order to secure God’s blessing, one has to first be a blessing to Israel, which means supporting Israel as a Jewish state today.”

Among Asian Americans, a strain of Korean evangelicals is also committed to championing Israel and repenting for anti-Semitism among Christians. An organization called Korean Christians for Shalom Jerusalem held its annual cultural festival in Israel in May, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem after the Six-Day War.

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), said he sees support for Christian Zionism surging along with the growth of Pentecostal traditions around the globe. In recent years, his organization has launched affiliates in South Korea and Brazil.

As the Hispanic community in America has become “more evangelical Protestant and less Catholic, the possibilities of a Christian Zionist approach became much more real,” Eckstein said. “But nobody has yet been able to really harness or channel that innate support for Israel. They’re just not organized well enough to do so.”

But the potential is there, according to Rojo. “When you give them the right information and invest in them, they will give of their best efforts to become advocates,” he said. “Seeing the way they respond gives me a lot of hope.”

 

 

This post originally appeared

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/october/shalom-amigos-christian-zionism-hispanic-evangelical-israel.html?start=2

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Rev. Samuel Rodriguez y NHCLC Responden a La Decisión De La DACA

Los cristianos hispanos lanzarán una campaña nacional de 60 días en apoyo a los SUEÑOS, pondrán “Presión Incesante” en los miembros del Congreso hasta que “cada Soñador pueda Soñar de Nuevo”

“No tenemos la intención de dejar que un solo miembro del Congreso tenga una buena noche de descanso hasta que garantice que nuestros jóvenes puedan descansar tranquilos”. Rev. Samuel Rodríguez

SACRAMENTO, California – Hoy, a la luz de la decisión de la Casa Blanca sobre el DACA, la Conferencia Nacional Hispana de Liderazgo Cristiano y sus iglesias y organizaciones afiliadas, anuncia una campaña nacional con la intención de poner “presión constante” en “cada” permanente, la solución legislativa se proporciona para “DREAMers”.

“Cientos de miles de jóvenes hispanos serán superados con miedo y dolor hoy. Simultáneamente, una coalición multiétnica de decenas de millones de ciudadanos respetuosos de la ley, los ciudadanos estadounidenses comenzarán a ejercer una presión incesante sobre los miembros del Congreso para que proporcionen una solución permanente a los DREAMers, cuyo destino no es su culpa ” Rev. Samuel Rodríguez, Presidente de la Conferencia Nacional Hispana de Liderazgo Cristiano. “Durante mucho tiempo en este país, los jóvenes hispanos han sido las fichas políticas de nuestros poderosos políticos. Esto es una afrenta a la santidad de la vida, es inhumana, y la comunidad hispana ya no lo soportará. Nuestros miembros electos del Congreso tienen una y otra vez, profesan preocupación por la comunidad hispana y, sin embargo, han optado por no hacer nada. No distinguiremos entre republicanos y demócratas, sino entre los que defienden la justicia y la justicia y los que no lo hacen “.

Entre otras acciones, la Conferencia Nacional Hispana de Liderazgo Cristiano estará temporalmente trasladando personal adicional a Washington, D.C., lanzando una campaña nacional de medios de comunicación, reuniendo a decenas de miles de líderes espirituales de la nación, coordinando reuniones semanales en Capitol Hill y Capitolios Estatales. Además, el NHCLC organizará un “fly-in” de cientos de prominentes líderes hispanos de toda América del Norte para una reunión de oración en la noche del 30 de octubre, seguida de una serie de visitas al Congreso el 31 de octubre.

De la decisión del Presidente Donald J. Trump de eliminar el DACA, el Rev. Samuel Rodríguez dice lo siguiente:

“Estoy decepcionado de que estas protecciones estén terminando y he expresado esa decepción a la Casa Blanca directamente. También entiendo por qué eligieron este curso de acción. Si el destino de DAPA es una indicación, entonces era sólo cuestión de tiempo antes de que DACA se enfrentara a un destino similar en los tribunales y, de hecho, todo el programa podría ser cesado inmediatamente por una orden judicial en lugar de ser eliminado. Afortunadamente, es el trabajo del Congreso de hacer leyes, y ahora el Presidente ha proporcionado al Congreso una ventana de seis meses para legislar una solución más permanente y legalmente defendible para DREAMers. Seis meses es demasiado largo, vamos a exigir la acción del Congreso dentro de 60 días. No tenemos la intención de dejar que un solo miembro del Congreso tenga una buena noche de descanso hasta que garantice que nuestros jóvenes puedan estar tranquilos. No estaremos en silencio hasta que todos los Sueños puedan soñar de nuevo. “

La Conferencia Nacional Hispana de Liderazgo Cristiano es una organización no partidista que durante mucho tiempo ha sido contada entre los principales defensores de la reforma migratoria integral de la nación. Es la posición oficial de la organización que es primordialmente la responsabilidad del Congreso de abordar los viejos desafíos de la nación con la política de inmigración. En esa capacidad, el Rev. Samuel Rodríguez ha trabajado con las mayorías demócratas y republicanas en el Congreso, así como con los presidentes George W. Bush, Barack Obama y Donald J. Trump en la promoción de la reforma migratoria integral.

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El Rev. Samuel Rodríguez es presidente de la Conferencia Nacional Hispana de Liderazgo Cristiano. Ha sido nombrado por CNN y Fox News como “el líder del movimiento hispano-evangélico” y TIME Magazine lo nombró entre los 100 líderes más influyentes en América.

La Conferencia Nacional Hispana de Liderazgo Cristiano (NHCLC) es la organización reconocida e identificada por Time Magazine, New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Christianity Today, Charisma Magazine, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, Fox News y CNN. medios de comunicación, publicaciones y publicaciones periódicas como la organización cristiana hispana / latina más grande de América con 40.118 iglesias certificadas en los Estados Unidos y en relación de pacto con ministerios e iglesias en América Latina y alrededor del mundo.

Sitio web | www.nhclc.org Twitter | @ nhclc

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Rev. Samuel Rodriguez Reacts to DACA Decision

Hispanic  Christians  to Launch  National  60-DayCampaign in  Support  of DREAMers,  Will  Put “Unrelenting  Pressure” on Members  of  Congress  Until “Every  DREAMer  can Dream Again”

“We  do  not  intend  on  letting  a  single member  of  Congress  have  a  good night’s  rest  until  they  guarantee  our young  people  can  rest  easy.” Rev. Samuel  Rodriguez

SACRAMENTO,  Calif.  —  Today, in  light  of  the White  House’s  decision on DACA,  the  National Hispanic  Christian  Leadership  Conference  and  its affiliate  churches  and  organizations, announces  a national  campaign  intent  on  putting  “unrelenting pressure”  on  “every”  member  of Congress  until  a permanent,  legislative  solution  is  provided  for “DREAMers.”

“Hundreds-of-thousands  of  Hispanic  young  people will  be  overcome  with  fear  and  grief today. Simultaneously,  a  multi-ethnic  coalition  of  tens-of-millions  of  law  abiding,  U.S.  citizens  will begin  to  put unrelenting  pressure  on  members  of  Congress  to provide  a  permanent  solution  for DREAMers, whose  fate  is  in  question  by  no  fault  of  their  own,”  said  Rev.  Samuel Rodriguez, President  of  the National Hispanic  Christian  Leadership  Conference.

“For  far  too  long  in  this country,  Hispanic  young people  have  been  the  political  bargaining  chips  of our  powerful politicians.  This  is  an  affront  to  the sanctity  of  life,  it  is  inhumane,  and  the  Hispanic community will  stand  for  it  no  longer.  Our  elected members  of  Congress  have  time  and  again, professed concern  for  the  Hispanic  community  and yet,  have  chosen  to  do  nothing.  We  will  not distinguish between  Republicans  and  Democrats but  between  those  who  stand  for  righteousness  and justice  and  those  who  do  not.”

Among  other  actions,  the  National  Hispanic. Christian  Leadership  Conference  will  be temporarily relocating  additional  staff  to  Washington,  D.C., launching  a  national  media campaign,  rallying  tens-of-thousands  of  the  nation’s  spiritual  leaders, coordinating  weekly meetings  on  Capitol  Hill  and  in State  Capitols.  Additionally,  the  NHCLC  will  be organizing  a “fly-in”  of  hundreds  of  prominent Hispanic  leaders  from  throughout  North  America  for a  prayer meeting  on  the  evening  of  Oct.  30, followed by  a  series  of  Congressional  visits  on Oct.  31.

Of  President  Donald  J.  Trump’s  decision  to  phaseout  DACA, the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez  says  the following:

“I  am  disappointed  that  these  protections  are ending  and  I’ve  expressed  that disappointment to the White House directly.  I  also  understand  why they  chose  this course  of  action.  If  the  fate  of  DACA is  any  indication,  then  it  was  only  a  matter  of  time before  DACA  would  face  a  similar  fate  in  the  court sand,  in  fact,  the  entire  program  could be  ceased immediately  by  a  court  order  rather  than  being phased  out.  Thankfully,  It  is the  job  of  Congress  to make  laws,  and  now  the  President  has provided Congress  a  six month  window  to  legislate  a  more permanent  and  legally  defensible  solution  for DREAMers.  Six  months  is  too  long,  we  will  demand action  from  Congress  within  60 days.  We  do  not intend  on  letting  a  single  member  of  Congress  have a  good  night’s  rest until  they  guarantee  our  young people  can  rest  easy.  We  will  not  be  silent  until every DREAMer  can  dream  again.”

The  National  Hispanic  Christian  Leadership Conference  is  a  non-partisan  organization  that  has long  been  numbered  among  the  nation’s  foremost advocates  for  comprehensive  immigration reform.  It is  the  organization’s  official  position  that  it  is primarily  the  responsibility  of  Congress  to address the  nation’s  longstanding  challenges  with immigration  policy.  In  that  capacity  Rev. Samuel Rodriguez  has  worked  with  Democrat  and Republican  majorities  in  Congress  as  well  as with Presidents  George  W.  Bush,  Barack  Obama  and Donald  J.  Trump  in  advocating  for comprehensive immigration  reform.

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Rev. Samuel  Rodriguez  is  president  of  the  National Hispanic  Christian  Leadership  Conference. He  has been named  by  CNN  and  Fox  News  as  “the  leader  of  the Hispanic  Evangelical  movement”  and  TIME Magazine nominated  him  among  the  100  most  influential  leaders  in America.

The  National  Hispanic  Christian  Leadership  Conference( NHCLC)  is  the  organization  recognized  and identified  by Time  Magazine,  New  York  Times,  The  Wall  Street  Journal, Christianity  Today,  Charisma Magazine,  NBC,  Telemundo, Univision,  Fox  News,  CNN,  and  a  number  of  additional media  outlets, publications,  and  periodicals  as  America’s largest  Hispanic/Latino  Christian  organization  with  40,118 certified  member  churches  in  the  United  States  and  in covenant  relationship  with  ministries  and  churches in  LatinAmerica  and  around  the  world.

 

Website  |  www.nhclc.org Twitter  |  @nhclc

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Samuel Rodriguez Slams Critics of Trump’s Evangelical Advisers

Samuel Rodriguez slams critics of Trump’s evangelical advisers
by  Jardine Malado September 1, 2017

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez has denounced critics who are calling on him and other Christian leaders to resign from President Donald Trump’s evangelical advisory board.

Following the Aug. 12 protest in Charlottesville, critics have called on members of the evangelical advisory board to abandon the president because of his response to the violent incident that occurred during the rally.

Critics were particularly angered over Trump’s failure to quickly denounce white supremacists as well as his remarks claiming there were “very fine people” on both sides, and that both sides were to blame for the violence.

Rodriguez, who was one of six Christian leaders who spoke at Trump’s inauguration, acknowledged that the president was wrong not to immediately call out the white supremacists, but he maintained that his involvement on the advisory board was his “God-given assignment.”

The Hispanic evangelical leader argued that those calling for his resignation from the board are largely inconsistent.

“Where was that argument ‘why don’t you abandon,’ why don’t evangelical advisors abandon Obama when he affirmed and celebrated and advanced the cause of same-sex marriage? Where was the uproar when Obama expanded/funded Planned Parenthood, funded international abortions?” he said.

Rodriguez, who serves as the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, had also served as an advisor in various capacities to Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

He contended that the board gives “very straight talk” to the president and that it is “committed to the centrality of Jesus and biblical truth.”

Compared to the advisory board during the previous administrations, the current board is informal with no recognized leader or structure. The boards from the past two administrations had more formal structures which included leaders from a variety of faiths, whereas the current board is thoroughly evangelical and largely conservative, according to CBN News.

Rodriguez raised the question whether critics have thought of the consequences if members of the evangelical advisory board were to abandon Trump.

“What if President Trump would not have a faith advisory board and no one speaking truth and love and mercy and grace and reconciliation to him?” he asked. “My point is, people should be thanking God every single day for the faith advisory board,” he added.

Despite being a member of the advisory board, Rodriguez has not been afraid of speaking out against the Trump administration’s actions when it comes to deporting and detaining immigrants.

Last month, Rodriguez condemned the arrest of a Guatemalan-born Assemblies of God pastor in California and criticized the administration’s decision to rescind a policy protecting undocumented parents of natural-born American citizens or legal permanent residents from deportation.

 

 

This post originally appeared here: http://www.christiantimes.com/article/samuel-rodriguez-slams-critics-of-trumps-evangelical-advisers/72772.htm

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Rev. Samuel Rodriguez: Preparing for the Storms of Life

Preparing for the Storms of Life
by Rev. Samuel Rodriguez

Hurricane season arrives every year along the Gulf Coast, overlapping with the beginning of a new school year. This year initially seemed to be no different – school supplies and backpacks were readied for a first day of Kindergarten or middle school or college. Families in Texas weren’t expecting a tropical storm to reach hurricane levels and deliver record-setting rainfall before school buses took to the streets. The storms of life rarely give advance notice.

Storms can be devastating, especially when they take us by surprise. But it is precisely at these times that we are comforted by knowing we are not alone. Our loving God is not only with us during life’s storms, but He goes before us to prepare a way.

Deuteronomy 31:8 tells us, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

God goes before us. He prepares the way.

Thousands of Texans found their homes flooded and escape routes closed as Hurricane Harvey delivered more than fifty inches of rain. Houstonians could not prevent the flooding, but preparation has paid off. First responders were prepared to treat injuries. Helicopter pilots had been trained to conduct rescues in challenging weather. Pastors and chaplains were ready to offer comfort to those who mourned the loss of possessions and property and those they loved. God prepared the hearts and hands of medics and pilots and pastors through years of training and practice — for such a time as this.

God goes before us. He prepares a way through the storm.

We cannot predict every storm, but we can prepare. We can develop our skills, refine our talents, keep our hearts sensitive to God’s call and ready to respond, “Yes, Lord. Send me.”

Those still reeling from the storm in Texas will be in our prayers as thousands of churches prepare to celebrate Education Sunday this weekend. Those local heroes – first responders and tireless volunteers, those opening their homes and businesses to those in need – were once the children headed back to school. They were students studying for exams, developing their unique talents. Now their preparation, of hand and heart, becomes God’s blessing to their community, their world.

As America’s children return to school – or hope to return as flood waters recede – let us recommit to preparing students for life’s storms. Every child’s gifts are needed for the flourishing of our nation and our world. We can teach them to love the Lord with ‘all their hearts, all their souls, all their strength and all their minds’ by embracing high standards inside the classroom and out. We can set standards high. We can ensure that neither zip code, nor race, nor poverty deprive a child of the high-quality education needed to fulfill their divine purpose.

God goes before the children. He prepares their way. May we do the same.

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC/CONEL). He has been named by CNN and Fox News as “the leader of the Hispanic Evangelical movement” and TIME Magazine nominated him among the 100 most influential leaders in America.

This Post Originally Appeared here: https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2017/august/rev-samuel-rodriguez-preparing-for-the-storms-of-life

 

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Latino Evangelicals Urge Trump to Help Immigrant ‘Dreamers’

Latino Evangelicals Urge Trump to Help Immigrant ‘Dreamers’

08-31-2017 by Heather Sells

A court deadline next week is forcing President Trump to make a decision about the fate of young immigrants known as “Dreamers” – and Latino evangelicals say he should move to protect them.

Rev. Gabriel Salguero, associate senior pastor at Calvario City Church in Orlando and founder of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, wrote in a recent op-ed: “Now is not the time to turn these children away but rather to remove the fear of deportation and family separation.”

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Leadership Conference, told CBN News he fears the Dreamers will be deported if the president makes the wrong decision.

“Should these children pay for the sins of their parents? It’s anti-American and more importantly, anti-Biblical” he told CBN News.

Approximately 800,000 immigrants receive work permits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program. It allows them to work or go to school legally. All reside in the country illegally after arriving as children with their parents or older family members.

The president is under pressure from a group of Republican state lawmakers led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. They have threatened to sue if Trump does not terminate the DACA program by Sept. 5th.

The president could order the Department of Homeland Security to halt the new DACA work permits immediately or at a future date and call on Congress to come up with a legislative solution.

He could also continue issuing the permits which would trigger the Republican court challenge and then decide whether or not to defend the program in court.

Rodriguez says the president may be able to work a deal with Congress if it can move forward with border security legislation.

“He’s not going to give 750,000 kids a proverbial break in perpetuity without a legislative piece on this hand. He has to appease his base,” said Rodriguez, noting that the president has promised the building of a wall and other border security measures since his 2016 campaign.

Salguero says if the president ends DACA it will cost Florida $1.5 billion in annual losses to its gross domestic product. That’s because Dreamers pay taxes, pay for their education and contribute to the local and state economy.

The Christian humanitarian group World Relief is urging Congress to protect Dreamers saying, “It would be unjust to punish these individuals for a decision made, in most cases, by their parents.”

A number of Christian colleges and universities joined with other higher education institutions this year to urge the president to support Dreamers. They include: Azusa Pacific University, Bethel University, Fuller Theological Seminary, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, John Brown University and Point Loma Nazarene University.

Daniela and Andrea Gonzales are among the Dreamers waiting to see what the president will decide. They arrived in the U.S. with their parents as children and have since gone on to study and work under the DACA program. Without it, their futures remain uncertain at best.

The president appeared to soften his stance on Dreamers this year after harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric during his campaign.

Earlier this year he explained, “It’s a very, very tough subject. We are going to deal with DACA with heart,” he said. But then he added, “I have to deal with a lot of politicians don’t forget.”

 

This Post Originally appeared here: https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2017/august/latino-evangelicals-pressure-president-to-help-immigrant-dreamers

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Inside Evangelical Leaders’ Private White House Dinner

On the eve of the first National Day of Prayer of his presidency, Donald Trump invited his closest evangelical advisors to join him for a private, long-awaited dinner celebration at the White House.

For the first time since they formed last June, the members of Trump’s campaign advisory board were meeting together not in weekly phone calls but in person, and having already accomplished what a year ago many thought was a long shot.

Less than four months into Trump’s presidency, their biggest hope of getting a conservative Supreme Court justice on the bench had been reached, and their supporters’ other objectives were in sight. As they gathered in the Blue Room, news was spreading through Washington that Trump was preparing an executive order to relax prohibitions on religious organizations’ political activities, and the House of Representatives was preparing to vote on a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Most of Trump’s evangelical advisory board flew in for the event, including Trump’s longtime spiritual advisor Paula White, Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress, evangelist Franklin Graham, Focus on the Family Founder James Dobson, former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, South Carolina televangelist Mark Burns, Faith and Freedom Coalition chairman Ralph Reed, and others. They were joined by top White House officials, including Vice President Pence, Second Lady Karen Pence, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon.

Guests at Trump’s table included White, Jeffress and Marcus Lamb, CEO of the Christian television network Daystar. “We asked him questions, I asked things about the health care bill, he indicated that he was very positive about the passage of that tomorrow,” Jeffress says. “The overall tone was positive. … We could not be more delighted with the progress the president is making.”

The evening, guests say, was more a celebration of their victories so far than a discussion on future policy. Trump took photos with the guests in the Red Room, Graham kick off festivities with a prayer, and a dinner of shrimp scampi with parsley butter, red wine braised short ribs, and wild ramp gnocchi was served. White presented Trump with a gift on behalf of the group from the Museum of the Bible, a framed page of an original King James Bible from 1611 A.D., “a Bible which as you know was commissioned by a political leader in service to the church,” she said.

Acclaimed evangelical musician Steven Curtis Chapman performed his songs “Be Still and Know” and “The Lord’s Prayer.” Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, gave a benediction, and Trump then invited everyone up to the residence for a brief after party, complete with a tour of the Lincoln bedroom and the Truman balcony, before shaking hands again.

“It was a reunion more than anything,” Bachmann says. “For people of faith, there was so much trepidation about what would happen in this election. They really felt that if Mrs. Clinton had prevailed it would have spelled a diminution of the nation, the nation would have morally suffered.”

The evening reaffirmed the bond Trump has forged with evangelical and social conservative leaders who propelled him victory in November, one based on shared policy ambitions and often couched in prayer events. Jeffress, who preached a private sermon for Trump the morning of his inauguration, addressed the group briefly, reminding Trump, “Mr. President, we are going to be your most loyal friends,” and “We thank God every day that you are the president of the United States.” Trump at one point took the podium to a standing ovation, and spoke of the large numbers of evangelical voters who elected him in November. Exit polls showed 80% of white evangelicals backed Trump.

On Thursday morning, the leaders will gather again, this time in the Rose Garden for the signing of Trump’s latest executive order. “This won’t be a token and this won’t be a bone that is thrown,” Bachmann says. “We will see the goal of preserving religious liberty fulfilled.”

“Tomorrow is going to be a really big day, sometime between 11 and 11:30 in the morning, the President will sign an executive order that will administratively repeal the Johnson amendment and repeal the Obamacare restrictions on conscience and religious freedom, and about 90 minutes to two hours later, the House of Representatives will repeal Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood,” Reed says. “That’s about as big a day as the social conservative movement has had in its history.”

Original post can be read here: http://time.com/4766485/national-day-prayer-white-house-dinner/

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Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Commends President Trump’s Executive Order That Rolls Back Johnson Amendment

 

“This new executive order not only signals President Trump and Vice President Pence’s commitment to fighting for and representing the Evangelical community, but also the larger struggle for religious liberty.”

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez

WASHINGTON, May 4, 2017—Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, who participated in today’s National Day of Prayer service and will deliver tonight’s benediction at the Capitol, applauds President Trump’s executive order aimed at increasing religious freedoms and rolling back the Johnson Amendment.

“I was honored today to stand next to our president, vice president and many of our nation’s faith leaders as we gathered for the National Day of Prayer. This administration has gone to great lengths to signal their commitment to listening to and befriending America’s faith community. I can tell you every Christian leader who was at the White House today feels welcomed, heard and valued. There is a new tone in Washington, and it’s yet another reason I am so honored to be delivering tonight’s National Day of Prayer benediction at the Capitol.

“This new executive order not only signals President Trump and Vice President Pence’s commitment to fighting for and representing the Evangelical community, but also the larger struggle for religious liberty. For years now, people of faith—especially Christians—have been essentially told that their faith has no place beyond their front door. A subversive oppression has taken a hold of our nation and sincerely held beliefs are subject to not only social ridicule but also legal retribution. I strongly support the president’s position and urge Congress to throw their support behind a full repeal. Our job is not yet done.

“I believe the freedom of religion—for all religions and even no religion at all—is the cornerstone of our republic. The right to believe and to act on belief is at the very heart of human freedom. By signing this executive order today, the president has stood not only for religious liberty, but for a freedom upon which so many other rights rest.”

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Samuel Rodriguez Urges People to Look at Facts Behind 23-Y-O Dreamer’s Deportation to Mexico

The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, one of six faith leaders who spoke at President Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony and the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, has issued a statement regarding the widely reported deportation of a 23-year-old Mexican dreamer.

(Photo: Reuters/Mark Makela)A sign is displayed in support of Angela Navarro, an undocumented Honduran-born immigrant with a deportation order, who moved into West Kensington Ministry Church with her family – her husband and two U.S. born children, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 18, 2014. Navarro, who has “always lived in fear” of deportation said on Tuesday she moved into a Philadelphia church as part of a national civil disobedience action aimed at pressing President Obama on immigration reform. Navarro is the ninth undocumented immigrant who has taken refuge in a church recently as part of what activists are calling the New Sanctuary Movement. Organizers offer sanctuary in churches because federal guidelines prohibit arrests in sensitive areas unless there is a threat to public safety or national security.

Last week, it was reported that federal immigration agents may have “ignored” President Donald Trump’s pledge to protect undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children from deportation and deported a man named Juan Manuel Montes-Bojorquez, who had lived in the U.S. since he was 9 and received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status under the Obama administration.

According to USA Today, Montes-Bojorquez’s deportation was the first documented case of a dreamer being deported under the Trump administration.

Rodriguez, the lead pastor at New Season Church in California, issued a statement following the report that said he is “hugely alarmed” by the reports of Montes-Bojorquez’s deportation and separation from his family. Montes-Bojorquez is now believed to be staying with his aunt and uncle in Western Mexico.

“As the investigation on this incident remains unresolved, we must wait until we have the facts and not jump to conclusions,” Rodriguez said.

(Photo: The Christian Post/Sonny Hong)Rev. Samuel Rodriguez on the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission panel on “Hobby Lobby and the Future of Religious Liberty,” at the Southern Baptist Convention, Baltimore, Maryland, June 9, 2014.

“I will reiterate my position that the Trump administration has promised to not touch our Dreamers’ or separate good families,” Rodriguez added. “As such, I ask our leaders to get to the bottom of this issue to determine whether the deportation of Mr. Montes-Bojorquez violated this promise, and, if his deportation was indeed unwarranted, to immediately reunite him with his family.”

According to the San Diego Tribune, Montes-Bojorquez filed a federal lawsuit last week that claimed he was deported twice in February.

The lawsuit claims that the first deportation was when he was approached by a border officer in Calexico and the second came when he tried to re-enter the U.S. a day later.

The lawsuit also claims that Montes-Borjorquez was first apprehended in Calexico when he was leaving a friend’s house and approached by an officer on his way to a taxi stand. The lawsuit claims that he had forgotten his wallet with his authorization card in his friend’s car and was prevented from going to get it and was later deported.

A statement released by the Department of Homeland Security last week states that there are no records to verify Montes-Borjorquez’s claim that he was first apprehended on Feb. 18 and deported through the port of entry in Calexico. Records only verify that Montes-Bojorquez was apprehended as he climbed the border fence in downtown Calexico on Feb. 19. DHS said that “he admitted to agents that he had illegally entered the United States and was arrested.”

“There are no records or evidence to support Montes-Bojorquez’s claim that he was detained or taken to the Calexico Port of Entry on Feb. 18,” the statement reads.

Montes-Bojorquez was approved for DACA in 2014, with an expiration date of Jan. 25, 2018, the DHS statement acknowledged. However, the statement claims that Montes-Bojorquez “lost his DACA status when he left the United States without advance parole on an unknown date prior to his arrest by the U.S. Border Patrol on Feb. 19.”

“According to his interview with the Border Patrol, conducted in Spanish, he entered the United States on Feb. 19 and he acknowledged that he understood the questions that he was being asked,” the statement reads. “Departing the country without advance parole terminates the protections Montes-Bojorquez was granted under DACA.”

Additionally, DHS claims that Montes-Bojorquez never informed border agents of his DACA status during his interviews and was repatriated to Mexico on Feb. 20.

The Daily Caller reports that Montes-Bojorquez was convicted of shoplifting last July and sentenced to probation. Additionally, he has also received three convictions for driving without a license.

Although Rodriguez is in favor of stopping illegal immigration and opposes offering amnesty to illegal immigrants, he has criticized the Trump administration earlier this year after reports indicated that a large percentage of undocumented immigrants targeted in ICE raids earlier this year hadn’t committed any serious crimes.

He told The Christian Post in March that conversations he had with the Trump transition team led him to believe that God-fearing and law-abiding undocumented immigrant families would not be affected by the deportation policies.

“[T]here was a percentage, a number of great God-fearing, hard-working people who were not criminals who don’t even have a traffic violation that were deported,” Rodriguez said. “These are egregious stories.”

“We are looking at, for example, a mom whose kids were born here and whose kids don’t even speak Spanish. The mom who came here legally with a visa and the visa expired and she never got a deportation order was deported,” he continued. “These kind of egregious stories are the stories taking place. That is why I oppose it. I really want our president to fulfill his entire promise.”

Rodriguez’s church in Sacramento implemented a “safe haven” program this year that offers anyone in the community, including illegal immigrants, who feel like they are in need of safe haven a place to take shelter.

“The safe haven is for everyone in the community — those who are victims of domestic violence, those that are fleeing gang activities, any family that believes their family is threatened. It could be internally or externally,” he told CP. “I want to distinguish that from sanctuary churches that are explicitly committed to opening up their doors to people that are undocumented. We are not going to ask you if you are documented or undocumented. If you are coming to our church and say, ‘I need safe haven,’ without asking you any questions, we are going to provide safe haven.”

Original article can be read here: http://www.christianpost.com/news/samuel-rodriguez-23-year-old-dreamers-deportation-mexico-181800/

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