Tristan Hallman – The Dallas Morning News
Hispanic Evangelicals to Perry: Time For Reconciliation Hispanic evangelical leaders hope that Gov. Rick Perry will make amends with Hispanics and the religious community now that the bill prohibiting “sanctuary cities” appears to be dead. After Perry put the bill on the agenda for the Texas Legislature’s special session, several Hispanic evangelical leaders — who had otherwise supported Perry — declined invitations to join Perry at his Aug. 6 national day of prayer and fasting event. The religious leaders believed the bill would promote discrimination and lead to a few “rogue” police officers targeting Hispanic churches. Lynn Godsey, the Texas director of Esperanza for America, a group that promotes immigration reform, said he will consult with Houston pastors before deciding whether to attend the prayer event at Houston’s Reliant Stadium. “Hispanics have been hurt. There needs to be some healing. There needs to be some reconciliation,” Godsey said. Godsey, a pastor who has supported other conservative politicians in the past, said that it would benefit Perry to humble himself and have a discussion with Hispanic religious leaders, especially if the governor plans to run for president. As for the event itself, Godsey said Perry’s involvement with religious leaders outside of his speech will be telling. “If he comes and goes, it’s politics,” Godsey said. “He wasn’t serious about prayer” Samuel Rodriguez, the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said he has decided to attend the prayer because he believes Perry is indeed serious about prayer. Rodriguez had been on the fence about whether to attend, but he said he was reassured after a private meeting with Perry along with other pastors last week. “I just want to see people come together and praying and believing in good things,” Rodriguez said. Rodriguez added that Perry’s push for the sanctuary cities bill could hurt his possible presidential bid. The best case scenario Perry could expect from Hispanics, he said, is “an apathetic showing of support.” Abel Lopez, a Dallas resident and president of Leadership Training Ministries, a group that trains youth workers in churches in the United States and Latin America, had declined his invitation, but is willing to reconsider. “I voted for him,” Lopez said. “He’s still my governor.” Lopez, like Godsey, said he will make a final decision on whether to attend after consulting with others. Others aren’t as sure they can just forgive and forget. John Mendez, former vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, said that he still won’t attend Perry’s event because he felt deceived by Perry’s support for the bill. Both Rodriguez and Godsey also said the bill still perturbs them, but the experience has helped teach them to be more proactive in building effective organizations to fight future legislative battles.