If you didn't catch it yesterday The New York Times reported on how an Episcopal bishop. United Methodist bishop and Roman Catholic bishop have sued the state of Alabama over a new anti-immigration law.
We need comprehensive immigration reform in our nation but the Tea Party Congress is blocking common sense reform proposed by President Obama, similar to a reform bill pushed by George W. Bush, that would protect our borders and provide a earned pathway to citizenship that has broad popular support from US voters tired of inaction on this issue.
Alabama has enacted draconian state legislation that goes against basic American principles and just as importantly infringes on the Constitutional rights of faith communities to practice their faith.
150 United Methodist Alabama clergy have signed a letter, mentioned in The New York Times article, explaining just wwhy this law is immoral and I wanted to lift up that letter by reprinting it here:
An Open Letter to Governor Robert Bentley, Senator Scott Beason, and Rep. Micky Hammon:
Forty-eight years ago, while sitting in a Birmingham jail cell, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote that, just as Christians have a moral duty to obey just laws, they also have a moral duty to disobey unjust ones. We are a group of United Methodist ministers from all across the state of Alabama who believe that HB 56 is an unjust law. Both proponents and opponents of the bill have described HB 56 as the “toughest immigration law in the country.” Among other measures to discourage illegal immigration, it gives police the ability to stop anyone they have a “reasonable suspicion” may be here illegally. It requires schools to verify the immigration or citizenship status of students. It denies bail to anyone arrested for being here illegally. And, it makes it a crime for a citizen to associate with undocumented persons, whether that be inviting them to one’s home or church or giving them a ride in a car.
We know that many who support this law are well-meaning individuals who are seeking to find the state's best interest: they are people who are worried about employment in this fragile economy and some feel that the state is strained to pay for services like health care, police protection, and education for those who may be here illegally. These are all valid concerns.
We believe, however, that many elements of this law are not in the state’s best interest. Teachers and principals are already stretched thin and have suffered tremendous budget cuts. Requiring them to also verify the immigration status of students will, in all likelihood, cost rather than save money and can only distract them from their most important task: preparing our children to succeed. Prohibiting bond to people who are here illegally means that more and more people will be kept in jails that are already overcrowded and understaffed. Finally, this law will most certainly be challenged in court and could cost the state millions of dollars at a time when nearly every state board and agency must accept budget cuts in this economy.
As Christian ministers, however, we believe that this law is not only impractical, but it also contradicts the essential tenets of the Christian faith. In Exodus 22:21, God commands the people, “You shall not oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt,” and in Leviticus 19:34 God says, “You shall love the alien as yourself.” In one of his most famous parables, Jesus used the example of the Good Samaritan – someone who was not considered a true Jewish citizen -- who stopped to help a battered and beaten man while the leaders of the people passed him by. And the apostle Paul taught us that in Christ there is “no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, but all are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
HB 56 would force many of our churches and many people in our churches to become lawbreakers, because we believe that God has called us to be a church in ministry to ALL people. United Methodists across the state welcome people regardless of immigration or citizenship status. Many of our fastest growing churches are Spanish-speaking, and we do not check people’s immigration status at the door. In response to Jesus’ admonition in the parable of the Last Judgment to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, clothe the naked and welcome the stranger, many churches have ministries to care for those who are poor by providing them with food, shelter, and transportation. Again, we do not check people’s immigration status before inviting them into our church vans and cars. We United Methodist clergy will continue to be in ministry to all people and we call on all United Methodists to do the same. We call on the governor to call a special legislative session to review this bill, and we call on the legislature to repeal HB56.
Click here to see the list of signers.
We can be proud that clergy in Alabama are bravely standing up for God's justice.