Christian Leaders Join Forces for Special Report on Faith and Work in The Washington Times
May 25, 2017
It takes community to flourish
May 25, 2017

One of the unfortunate results of the politicization of immigration in America is that it overshadows the true contribution that the Hispanic community makes in this country. It causes certain Americans to look upon our community with suspicion when — in fact — our community isn’t changing America for ill, but reminding America of who she once was.

In 2012 the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, for which I serve as president, partnered with the Barna Group to conduct the most comprehensive study of “Hispanics and Faith” to date. Among many other interesting observations, the study revealed that 85 percent of Hispanics found “personal meaning and fulfillment” at work, with almost as many specifically noting that they believe that they were creating a better world through their work.

When asked what we would define as the top contributions we make to American society, “work ethic” made it in the top three. Rightly so, for no community in this country has more collective calluses on its hands and sweat on its brow than ours.

You might say that we still believe in the American Dream. We still believe that if you work hard enough, you can pull yourself up by your own bootstraps and that you can give a brighter future to your family, to your children and to their children.

What is — perhaps — different about how we work is that component of “meaning.” Anecdotally, I can tell you that our work isn’t driven by narcissism, hedonism, consumerism and self-interest in the way that so many others are driven to succeed in our economy. Our work ethic is driven by our commitment to our families, and it is inspired by our faith.

We work as hard as the pioneers who laid the foundation of this great country, and we work with a drive fueled by the same sense of faith that united them. In fact, nearly all Hispanics in the Barna study revealed in some way the importance of faith in all aspects of their lives. We are a community that works hard and loves God, embraces “Judeo-Christian” values, and we are proudly anchored upon the bedrock of family.

We ought to be considered a light in an increasingly dark time in America, and our light stands in stark contrast to the nativism that seeks to divide our nation. At a time when so many in America seem to be cheating on the values that made America great, the Hispanic community is holding down the fort even as we multiply our ranks. Now, we’ve become so powerful that our votes can determine national elections, but we remain humble enough to know that this is a responsibility to be stewarded. We refuse, as so many before us, to sacrifice truth on the altar of political expediency. You can rest assured that our votes will be on behalf of values that made America great.

Like the rest of us, we simply want a brighter America for our children and our grandchildren, that’s all. We want an America where immigrants can step out of the shadows, without fear of discrimination, and where they can find their opportunity to fully bless this land that has given them freedom, security and opportunity.

Let’s be clear: The Hispanic community strengthens American values, and without our contribution the American economy would grind to a halt. Without us, this country would be less American today — not more American — and without us, the principles that made America truly exceptional might have been long lost.

While politicians on Capitol Hill are fighting over our community’s future, we are working to make sure they even have a country to fight for.

America is better, together.

• Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is the author of “Be Light: Shining God’s Beauty, Truth, and Hope into a Darkened World.” He is the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. The opinions presented here do not necessarily represent the policies of NHCLC/Conel or New Season Christian Worship Center.

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