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National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference President, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez participates in Inaugural Prayer Service

Churches, Groups Look to Obama for Promised Change

Courtesy of The Christian Post Religious and rights groups are calling on President Barack Obama to make good on his popular catchphrase “Change is coming!” by flooding him with letters requesting support and attention to special causes. Several groups have already asked the new president to put into action his promise to unite people that traditionally have been in conflict. Just ahead of the inauguration, several prominent evangelical and progressive leaders came together to issue a “common values” agenda covering divisive cultural issues such as abortion, gay rights, immigration reform, and torture. In the letter sent to President Obama and congressional leaders, the formerly at odds partners offered “a shared vision and a plan for ending the cultural wars.” Together the two sides called for the reduction of abortion by preventing unintended pregnancies, supporting pregnant women and new families, and increasing support for adoption. Moderate evangelical and secular progressive leaders also called on the protection of the rights of gay and lesbian people to earn a living with an exemption for faith-based employers to refuse to hire on the basis of sexual orientation. Other issues they agreed on include the unequivocal renouncement of torture by the government and support for an immigration reform that paves the way to an earned path of citizenship for most undocumented residents. “The culture wars have been characterized by vilifying those who differ from us on provocative issues and treating them as traitors and threats,” said the Rev. Joel C. Hunter, senior pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed, in Florida. “I believe we can end those wars by thinking of our differences as ways we can learn from each other and advance without compromising core values,” he said. Pastor Joel Hunter has prayed with President Obama on several occasions, including during a private pre-inauguration service held at St. John’s Church across from the White House on Tuesday; over the phone on Election Day Nov. 4, before Obama was declared the winner, and at the closing of the Democratic National Convention. The “Common Values” agenda was spearheaded by Third Way and also included the support of Dr. David Gushee of Mercer University, the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Dr. Ron Sider of Evangelicals for Social Action, Dr. Robert P. Jones of Public Religion Research, and Katie Paris of Faith in Public Life. Meanwhile, International Justice Mission – a ministry that works to free those victimized by violent crimes such as sexual violence, trafficking, and slavery – is asking the Obama administration and Congress to make the public justice system more capable of protecting the poor and vulnerable. Other groups are seeking Obama’s support to end the Darfur genocide, maintain current policies that ban foreign aid to organizations promoting abortions, and prevent federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.


Joel Hunter, Samuel Rodriguez to Pray at Private Prayer Service

Courtesy of Christianty Today Written by Sarah Pulliam Florida megachurch pastor Joel Hunter and Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, will offer prayers at the prayer service tomorrow that Barack Obama will attend before the inauguration. T.D. Jakes will give the sermon at the service, which is closed to the public. I caught up with Rodriguez tonight and below is the partial transcript of our conversation. What do you think about the inauguration plans tomorrow? I think it was a brilliant move to ask Rick Warren. It speaks to his commitment to bring the country together. My prayer is that [Obama’s] public policy agenda reflects that same commitment. This great man will govern from the center. I believe that he will not make the Freedom of Choice Act his priority. I believe that he will focus on abortion-reduction strategies, lowering the teenage pregnancy rate. That’s my prayer. The Defense of Marriage Act – Dear Mr. President, this would be one of those ‘don’t touch, don’t tell,’ not ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ These are issues that are cultural wedge issues that have historically separated us. His selections on cabinet appointments are center, if not center right. My speculation is, in light of the presidential transition team, my speculation is that he will govern from the center. What did you think of Obama’s selection of T.D. Jakes? I appreciate the selection. Bishop T.D. Jakes is one of the most anointed and articulate orators. I think he couldn’t have picked someone better. I believe that Barack Obama’s selection of speakers and orators, and those that will be praying and reading Scripture, excluding Sam Rodriguez, excluding Sam Rodriguez, other than that, excellent choice. What about Robinson? Excellent? (pause) My problem with Gene Robinson, and of course I have my own biblical worldview, is not that he is openly gay. It has to do more with Rick Warren’s selection. Gene was very apprehensive, very condescending, and totally against the selection of Rick Warren. I think that was wrong. Rick, on the other hand, responded in such a Christ-like manner when he was made aware of Gene Robinson’s selection. My reluctance to put him in the same category as excellent has everything to do with the way he responded to Rick Warren and nothing to do with sexual orientation. If he had not responded in that way, I would’ve said excellent choice. Do you have expectations for tomorrow? Lots of tears, lots of goose bumps. I know that there was speculation over whether Rick Warren would pray in Jesus’ name. Do you plan to pray in Jesus’ name tomorrow? If you invite me as a Hispanic evangelical, I will pray in Jesus’ name, respecting religious pluralism in America. I hope [Rick Warren] does. I hope he would but if he doesn’t I understand. I will be praying in Jesus’ name and I will be sharing from the New Testament from the Gospel of Luke. Which passage? It’s confidential until tomorrow. Anything else you’d like to add? All the Christians in this community should stand around him and support him. We have a moral commitment to cover him in prayer.

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Dr. Gaston Espinosa, Dr. Juan Hernandez, Bishop Harry Jackson, Dr. Alvin Padilla, Dan Garza address Hispanic NAE Board

Special guests addressed a myriad of issues and opportunities for partnership with the NHCLC. Dr. Gaston Espinosa presented research exposing the quantitative evidence for the programs and task forces launched in the 2007 session. Immigration took center stage as Board Advisor Dr. Juan Hernandez expressed the need for mass mobilization from within the Latino Church. Bishop Harry Jackson committed to the threading of the Latino/Black Partnership while Dan Garza presented the need to register Latino Christian voters in order to transcend from influence to power.

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Sen. John McCain, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. Ted Kennedy. Sen. Ken Salazar Join Rev. Samuel Rodriguez and Other Prominent Leaders

Rev. Rodriguez joined the Senators and the leaders of La Raza, Marriott Hotel, and Grover Nordquist in an unprecedented bi -partisan press Conference for immigration Reform. The diverse coalition reiterated the call for Congress to pass legislation that will Protect the borders and provide a legal pathway for citizenship.”Let us secure our borders, let us secure all families within that border and together we will secure America’s future”, stated Rev. Rodriguez.
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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

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Most Americans favor guest-worker program: poll

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.

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Dr. Juan Hernandez Joins Advisory Board of the NHCLC

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.

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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.

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Rev. Samuel Rodriguez – In The Arena on CNN

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez on CNN – In The Arena, to discuss the booming Hispanic population. Click here for YouTube link.

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Christian Group Calls for ‘Compassionate Immigration Reform’


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.

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Senate Leadership Calls Upon NHCLC to Make Final “Push” for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

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.

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