The New York Times publishes what amounts to a TMO press release: “Houston’s Clergy Unites to Urge Support for Immigration Reform.” First we can criticize the grammar–clergy, in this case, is plural–these members could “unite,” but members of such a group don’t “unites.” Second, these are not “Houston’s clergy,” but members of a particular advocacy organization, The Metropolitan Organization. TMO “is a part of a larger network of organizations known as the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF). The Industrial Areas Foundation is a nationwide organizing institute with a fifty year history.” That umbrella organization was founded in 1940 by Saul Alinsky, whose first “rule for radicals” is, “Power is not only what you have, but what an opponent thinks you have. If your organization is small, hide your numbers in the dark and raise a din that will make everyone think you have many more people than you do.”
This press release/news article makes it seem as if all of Houston’s clergy were involved. Well, no. Those Catholic clergy who chose to follow DiNardo’s advice and preach on this instead of the appointed lessons would have participated. And those liberal United Methodists, Episcopalians, and ELCA Lutherans who are affiliated with TMO (and not all are). But do these represent “Houston’s Clergy”? Not by a long shot. I doubt any Southern Baptists were involved. I’m sure Joel Osteen wasn’t. Frankly, I don’t think any conservative evangelicals would have participated.
The NYT targets the people in the pews for lack of support on this issue.
Many clergy members say they face an uphill battle with their congregations, some of which tend to be conservative on social issues and regard immigrants without visas as lawbreakers.
Well, yes, immigrants who do not have visas are lawbreakers. Conservative Christians find this attitude to be contrary to the counsel of Scripture in Romans 13.
And contrary to the article, the issue is most decidedly not immigration. All our churches in Houston are filled with immigrants–from all corners of the globe. The thing is, most followed the law, and sacrificed time and effort to get here legally, and to get their families here legally. These immigrants are most certainly not in favor for illegal immigration.
Contrary to a friend who is quoted in that article, “current immigration policy encourages its very violation”–no, it encourages people to obey. What encourages people to violate it? Greed. Impatience. Selfishness. Lawlessness. And frustration with the rules.
We don’t need clergy in this country to encourage disregard for legitimate laws–we need clergy in other countries to remind their citizens of the responsibilities of faithful citizenship. We also need to respond with compassion as pastors and churches to all who are here–but compassion can include encouraging those who are here illegally to do the right thing.
Another group of clergy–more representative of Houston–is having a press conference on Wednesday; they also have a statement, which may be seen here. The signers are Baptist, Assembly of God–even Catholic and Seventh-day Adventist. They outline three priorities to achieve “a solid balance between justice (the rule of law) and compassion (treating all people with dignity and respect)”
- Secure our national borders first
- Reform the immigration system
- Implement a just process to legal status for specified illegal immigrants
It remains to be seen whether this group of clergy will be recognized by the secular media as even a part of “Houston’s clergy.”