Sen. John McCain, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. Ted Kennedy. Sen. Ken Salazar Join Rev. Samuel Rodriguez and Other Prominent Leaders
The National PBS Network via its Religion and Ethics Newsweekly covered and taped for television the September 24th, National Immigration Day Prayer Rally in Laredo, Texas. Dr. Gilbert Velez and the Hispanic Mega Church ICM hosted the National rally. Guest speakers included the most prominent Christian spokespersons on the issue of Immigration such as Dr. Juan Hernandez, Former Cabinet Member of the Vicente Fox Administration, Dr. Albert Reyes, President of the Baptist University of the Americas and NHCLC National Board Member, Rev. Mark Gonzalez, Confia Field Director and NHCLC Policy Liaison, Dr. Gilbert Velez, Vice President of Pubic Policy and NHCLC President Rev. Samuel Rodriguez. In addition, Congressmen Henry Cuellar and Mayor Raul Salinas participated. Click here to watch the video: The Program aired nationally the weekend of October 6th.http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week1006/cover.html
Most Americans believe illegal immigrants should be allowed to become guest workers and eventually U.S. citizens, but Congress should do more to close the border to stop more illegals entering the country, according to a new poll published on Tuesday. The nationwide poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University, found that by a margin of 69 percent to 27 percent, American voters say illegal immigrants should be allowed into a guest worker program with the ability to work toward citizenship over a period of several years. Such a guest worker program had wide support among voters of all political stripes. But 71 percent of voters said Congress must do more to deal with illegal immigrants entering the country. “Two-thirds of Americans favor a guest-worker program with a path to citizenship,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Maybe a lot of Americans think back to the stories of their own immigrant families.” “But Americans also want to close the borders to keep out illegal immigrants in the future,” Carroll added. “There are big margins for a tougher border policy among all parties and among men and women.” Sixty-five percent of American voters support — and 32 percent oppose — laws in their own community to fine businesses hiring illegal immigrants, according to the poll. “Americans think more needs to be done to deal with illegal immigration, and they want it done in their own neighborhoods as well,” Carroll said. The poll was conducted from November 13 to 19 among 1,623 registered voters and had a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.
Regarded as one of the most influential Latinos in America and a frequent guest on CNN, Fox and major media outlets, Dr. Hernandez joined America’s leading Hispanic Evangelical Organization, the NHCLC. “We are Proud to have Dr. Hernandez join our Organization. As a born again Christian, Dr. Juan Hernandez exemplifies the values of the Hispanic Evangelical church and operates with earmarks that enrich the Hispanic American experience. Together we will fight for immigration reform and other issues that impact the Latino Community”, stated Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the NHCLC.
NAE Issues Statement on NHCLC as sister organization and representative of Hispanic NAE ChurchesNAE Issues Statement on NHCLC as sister organization and representative of Hispanic NAE Churches
Leith Anderson, President of the NAE issued a statement identifying the NHCLC as the official sister organization of the NAE. The Hispanic NAE or the NHCLC as the organization is typically known is working to diversify the leadership and representative ethos of the NAE to include more people of color and truly reflect a Kingdom Culture The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) is the National Hispanic Association of Evangelicals. The NHCLC is committed to serve approximately 15 Million Evangelical/Born Again Christians in issues that pertain to the family, immigration, economic mobility, education, political empowerment, and societal transformation. As the Sister organization of the National Association of Evangelicals, the largest Evangelical organization in America, the NHCLC serves and facilitates a representative voice for the Latino NAE churches and denominations in addition to non affiliated networks, congregations and members. Statement: The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, a sister organization of the National Association of Evangelicals, serves and represents Hispanic churches and connects them to other evangelical churches in America and beyond. NHCLC leads Hispanic congregations and denominations through fellowship, networking, partnerships, public advocacy and more.
Originally printed in the CNSnews.com, May 8, 2007 By Monisha Bansal
WASHINGTON-A coalition of religious groups seeking a “compassionate” approach to immigration policies is targeting lawmakers with a new ad campaign scheduled for May 9. Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform will run the newspaper and radio ads in Florida, Arizona, Kansas, Ohio and Pennsylvania for the next six months. “Immigration is for us a religious issue,” said Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners Magazine, during a Capitol Hill press conference Monday. “It’s what God wants and expects. “Immigration policy is clearly broken and must be fixed,” he said. “So let’s fix it, but with compassion. The Bible tells us again and again about the need to care for the stranger in our midst.” “Our current system is unhealthy for our immigrants, for our economy and for our values,” said Rev. Dan Soliday, CEO of Nazarene Compassionate Ministries. “Despite differing theological and doctrinal perspectives, groups sharing a common Judeo-Christian heritage are uniting to challenge our lawmakers to create an immigration policy characteristic of a faithful people – compassionate, just, respectful of human dignity and valuing family bonds,” he said. The coalition is asking Congress to reduce waiting times for people seeking legal residency, help families containing illegal immigrants to reunify, create a path toward citizenship for illegal immigrants as well as a guest worker program. The group also wants Congress to address the root causes of illegal immigration. “We believe that Congress can pass legislation that treats the immigrant in a humane manner and applies the rule of law,” said Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. “How we deal with the immigrant is not just a matter of political will, or legislative acumen. At the end of the day, how we deal with the immigrant is a diagnostic of the spiritual health of our nation,” Rodriguez added. “I am sure that they are guided by sincere charitable impulses,” Ira Mehlman, media director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, told Cybercast News Service. “The problem is that they overlook one very important concept of charity: You can’t be charitable with other people’s resources,” he said. “Their compassion for the illegal immigrants unfortunately entails sacrificing other people’s jobs and economic opportunities, other people’s children’s educational opportunities, other people’s resources and tax dollars to provide a host of social services,” Mehlman added. “If one looks at immigration solely from the perspective of immigrants, it is always wonderful,” said Mehlman. “What many of these religious groups lose sight of is the fact that mass immigration, especially illegal immigration, has a profound impact on others.” Rodriguez said the Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform coalition will begin partnering with the New Sanctuary Movement and ask churches to provide support to families threatened with deportation. “Churches across this country are preparing to provide sanctuary for those seeking protection from egregious actions against their welfare and families,” he said. But Steven Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies, said “That’s the kind of thing that leaves most Christians and most Americans scratching their head[s].” “You can’t advocate for a change in the law if you think the law – the general construct – is meaningless,” he told Cybercast News Service. “If you’re going to say the courts themselves have no authority, that the rule of law doesn’t matter, I think they really do risk alienating large segments of their parishioners.” Camarota added that the members of the coalition might not be speaking for their parishioners. “What all the research on immigration generally shows is that elites – whether it’s the leaders of unions, churches, businesses, political parties … what you may call opinion leaders or elites in the United States – want illegal immigration legalized,” he said. “Generally speaking, members of those groups don’t. They tend to come down more on the enforcement side of the debate,” Camarota added.
In lieu of the lack of progress on immigration reform, Americas leading Hispanic Evangelical Leaders participated in a conference call with Sen. Democratic Leader, Senator Harry Reid from Nevada. The NHCLC was encouraged by Sen. Reid to be in the forefront of contacting President Bush and members of Congress in order to finally pass Comprehensive immigration reform. “We appreciate your national leadership on this issue. You have been the religious voice on this issue but now your assistance is needed more than ever. The legislation has been hijacked while millions of families are in limbo.” stated Senator Reid. Dr. Albert Reyes, Dr. Gilbert Velez and other key leaders will present a strategic plan to break the stalemate and push for final passage of comprehensive immigration reform.
On Friday, the Republican presidential candidates will audition at a “Values Voter Summit” in Washington for the role of “candidate most likely to win the blessing of Christian conservatives” by hitting hard on the hot-button issues of abortion and homosexuality. Meanwhile, a broad alliance of religious leaders, some of them also conservative Christians, is trying to persuade the candidates that the faith and values agenda is larger than those issues. They are inviting Republican and Democratic candidates to speak at back-to-back “Compassion Forums” on Nov. 26 in Greenville, South Carolina, an early primary state. They want to ask the candidates where they stand on climate change, torture, poverty in the United States and abroad, and genocide in Darfur – as well as abortion. Backing the event is an unusual left/right alliance of evangelical, Catholic, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders who only recently would have made very strange bedfellows indeed: including Dr. Frank Page, President of the Southern Baptist Convention; Dr. Paul R. Corts, President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities; Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of the liberal group Sojourners and author of “God’s Politics;” Dr. Syeed Sayeed, general secretary of Islamic Society of North America; Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; and Bishop Vashti McKenzie, of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The organizers, a relatively new Washington group called Faith in Public Life, say they have interest from top candidates, although none have confirmed yet. They say they are negotiating with a network to broadcast it, that John Meacham, managing editor of Newsweek, will moderate, and that churches and Christian colleges will organize viewing parties. It is one of a growing number of efforts under way among religious leaders to declare a ceasefire in the culture wars and focus on issues they can all agree on. Earlier this month, Third Way, a liberal think tank, issued a paper signed by several prominent evangelicals calling for new approaches to polarizing issues, such as reducing abortion by making birth control more widely available and expanding tax credits for adoption.
Courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle
by Joe Garofoli, Chronicle Staff Writer In addition to knowing President-elect Barack Obama for a decade, the Rev. Jim Wallis would seem like the type of nationally known, centrist, evangelical pastor chosen to give the inaugural invocation. Instead, Obama is still hearing criticism for inviting the Rev. Rick Warren, a conservative Orange County pastor who opposes same-sex marriage and abortion rights, to take that marquee inaugural position. But choosing Warren makes long-term political sense, say Wallis and others. Even though Warren’s support of California’s Proposition 8 and comments made in a Beliefnet.com interview last month equating gay marriage to pedophilia drew widespread criticism from some of Obama’s core supporters, analysts say Warren is symbolic of a new political reality. “White evangelicals are no longer an extension of the Republican Party,” said the Rev. Sam Rodriguez, president of National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and pastor at a Sacramento church. Plus, the choice is philosophically consistent with how Obama has been reaching out to opposing constituencies during his transition period. On Tuesday night, he dined at the home of conservative columnist George Will at a party attended by conservative commentators like William Kristol, Charles Krauthammer and David Brooks. The next day, the Democrat hosted a meeting at his transition office with centrist and left-wing commentators ranging from MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow to TheAtlantic.com’s Andrew Sullivan to Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne. And Obama has invited V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay man to be a consecrated bishop in the Episcopal Church, to pray at an inaugural ceremony today. Meanwhile, gay rights supporters planned to demonstrate this morning outside Warren’s Saddleback Church in Lake Forest to protest his opposition to same-sex marriage. “The issue isn’t Rick Warren per se,” said Wallis, who co-hosted a 2006 conference where Obama made one of his first major speeches on politics and his faith. “It is very Obama-like to reach out to conservative evangelicals who didn’t vote for him. Whether people like Rick Warren or not is not the issue.” Instead, the Warren pick is post-election evidence that one political trend will continue: Both parties will actively pursue evangelicals younger than 40 – and particularly those under 30. Warren, author of the 30 million-selling “The Purpose-Driven Life” and pastor of a 20,000-member Orange County megachurch, is a nationally recognized avatar of this new generation of conservative evangelicals. That pursuit paid dividends in November for Obama, who won votes from 32 percent of white evangelicals between 18 and 31 years old. In 2004, Democrat John Kerry had support from 16 percent of that demographic slice. Obama won more of them by talking about how he came to his Christian faith, analysts said, and his campaign and other liberal organizations increased outreach to conservative Christians. In states like Colorado, where supportive organizations like the Matthew 25 Network purchased TV ads promoting liberal religious themes, Obama improved his share of white evangelical votes by 14 percent, according to Steven Waldman, the Beliefnet.com editor in chief who conducted the interview in which Warren made his controversial statement. While young evangelicals may oppose abortion rights and same-sex marriage, they are not defined by those issues, as was their parents’ generation, which was shepherded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell and the Rev. Pat Robertson. “Rick Warren is not Jerry Falwell,” said Bill McKinney, president of the progressive-leaning Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. “He does not demonize people who disagree with him. Warren at least gives the impression that he isn’t like that.” “On balance it is a smart pick,” Waldman said. “Obama is doing something dramatic to reach out across ideological lines.” But others, like Rob Boston of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, described Warren as “Jerry Falwell in a Hawaiian shirt.” While Obama’s team has cited Warren’s support for combatting AIDS and poverty in Africa, a DailyBeast.com story this month showed Warren’s tight connection to a Ugandan pastor named Martin Ssempa. Ssempa has been linked with crusading against homosexuals in Uganda and lobbying against condom use in the promotion of a safe-sex message there. (Warren declined an interview request from The Chronicle.) But Obama is banking on the belief that politically attuned conservative evangelicals in the under-40 generation are more interested in issues like human trafficking, genocide in Darfur, the environment, and crime and education in their own communities than the previous generation’s issues of abortion and same-sex marriage. Like their secular peers, they are Internet-savvy and “more globalized than their parents,” Wallis said. “They care what’s going on around the world, and they want to do something about it.” That generation is also much more ethnically and racially diverse, including 16 million Hispanic born-again Christians, according to the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. But others wonder how much conservative evangelicals have actually changed politically. Last month, Richard Cizik – who has strongly encouraged evangelicals to embrace global warming as a top issue and a spiritual calling – resigned from his position as vice president of governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals. His transgression: On National Public Radio he said, “I would willingly say that I believe in civil unions.” That is contrary to what his now-former organization believes. “When they fired Rich Cizik, they fired the future,” Wallis said. “He was speaking to a new generation about issues like climate change.” So did the Obama camp not do its homework on Warren? Did it underestimate the passion of gay-rights supporters, particularly after the passage of Prop. 8 to outlaw same-sex marriage in California? Geoff Kors, executive director of the civil rights organization Equality California, declined an invitation to the inauguration, saying he “cannot be part of a celebration that highlights and gives voice to someone who advocated repealing rights from me and millions of other Californians.” In a letter to Obama, Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a large national gay-rights organization, said that “by inviting Rick Warren to your inauguration, you have tarnished the view that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans have a place at your table.” On Thursday, Faith in America, an organization that works with religious groups and others to expose what it calls “religion-based bigotry against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people,” released a project called “Can You Understand the Harm?” – a collection of videos and letters to Warren about his comments. The Courage Campaign, an online liberal organizing hub, has invited Warren to debate Prop. 8 and same-sex marriage with the Rev. Eric Lee of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. On Monday, they will keep heat on the issue with an event in Washington to highlight their challenge. When Obama invited Warren, “was it a misstep? No. Both short term and long term, it is smart,” said the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference’s Rodriguez. “Politically, Obama is looking at 2010 and 2012. It’s a win-win-win.” But any positive feelings Obama generates among evangelicals by picking Warren won’t last if he pushes policies that evangelicals find offensive. One example: Obama wants legislation to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Rodriguez said evangelicals want religious organizations to be exempt from its provisions. If that doesn’t happen, he predicted that Obama would lose a lot of goodwill – and, eventually, support. “This is a very fluid group,” said Rodriguez, who described himself as an “independent moderate,” but declined to state who he voted for; his wife led a prayer at the Republican National Convention. “This group is not going to be like white evangelicals, which was part of the Republican Party. This group is more interested in issues.” The new leaders of evangelical politics Here are some evangelical pastors who are emerging as national leaders. While some oppose gay marriage and abortion rights, they are being courted by conservative and progressive political leaders because their interest in social justice topics extends beyond those issues. The Rev. Jim Wallis: The Washington pastor, leader of Sojourners, a social justice religious organization, and best-selling author (“God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It”) held events at both the Democratic and Republican national conventions to seek common ground between the parties on abortion and poverty. The Rev. Sam Rodriguez: The Sacramento pastor supported Prop. 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California, and has been an advocate for immigration reform and social justice issues. The president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference has been courted by national political leaders ranging from Karl Rove to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Richard Cizik: Pro-Bush conservative and former powerful lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals drew criticism from the right by asserting that “creation care” – a form of environmentalism that is rooted in the Scriptures – should be a political priority for evangelicals. He resigned in December after he mentioned his support for same-sex civil unions in a radio interview. The Rev. Rob Bell: Michigan megachurch pastor, author of “Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith” and star of a popular online video series, the 38-year-old Bell focuses more on helping the poor than on wedge political issues. The Rev. Joel Hunter: Evangelical pastor in Florida supported a same-sex ban in his state, but also gave a benediction at the Democratic National Convention last year. Cameron Strang: The founder of the Christian pop-culture magazine Relevant is wooed by both parties. Was supposed to give a benediction at the Democratic National Convention, but bowed out at the last minute. In his blog he wrote: “It wouldn’t be wise for me to be seen as picking a political side when I’ve consistently said both sides are right in some areas and wrong in some areas.” Along with Cizik, was part of a group of Christian leaders that met with President-elect Barack Obama in June.