The new reformers


Call it the politics of the moment. Or a willfully myopic view of the American religious experience. The state of a nation at a peculiar crossroads. Whatever the root cause, there’s a prevalent notion lately — a persistent stage whisper on cable news and other forums — that the religious movement in the U.S. is a monolith. That people of faith, particularly of Christian faith, all ascribe to an identical political ideology or harbor unquestioned fealty to the same candidates, however problematic. 

Yet there is a cast of crusaders inching religious conservatives toward something more expansive, who through their words and actions ask more from our fellow communities of faith. The 20 men and women on this list don’t all agree with each other. In fact, their disparate approaches and ideas are the point. What they do hold in common is a passion for the kind of discourse that elevates moral conviction over political party, that prizes principles over partisanship. 

The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez

Political independent

The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, who leads a megachurch in California and heads the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, is not an immigrant himself, but he champions their concerns. He parlays his unique access to leaders in both parties into meaningful progress on immigration reform. 

At times, these efforts complicated his relationship with former President Donald Trump, who abandoned promises to protect “Dreamers,” the young people brought to the U.S. as kids. But the Rev. Rodriguez continues to advocate for putting religious values ahead of partisanship, regardless of which party is in power. 

“I offered (the same) solution to President Biden that I’d offered President Trump,” he told Deseret earlier this year. “We should grant those individuals who are not engaged in nefarious activities and do not have a criminal record immediate citizenship.” 

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