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Baptists and Immigration Reform

My latest Baptist Studies Bulletin column is up over at the Baptist History & Heritage website.

Stop by and read the entire column on Baptists and immigration reform.  I’ve included a snippet below:

A look at history shows us that broad-based coalitions of “odd bedfellows”
sometimes are indeed able to work together to achieve a big goal.  An excellent
example is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that was signed into law 20
years ago.  Baptists—notably the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious
Liberty—played a critical role in that process to ensure that government not be
allowed to infringe on an individual’s religious freedom in the absence of a
compelling state interest.

However, RFRA almost did not become a reality. The idea of a legislative
remedy to the Supreme Court’s misguided ruling in Oregon Employment Division
v. Smith
united diverse faith communities. The tricky part came when a
specific bill was introduced. RFRA was initially met with resistance from
pro-life groups.  Nearly three years lapsed before Congress finally passed RFRA
and the religious liberty bill was signed into law by President Clinton.

Sometimes, however, emerging movements and broad coalitions fizzle and fall
apart. Just a handful of years ago, national newspapers and magazines were
declaring the greening of evangelicalism. High-profile conservative evangelicals
were vowing to be better stewards and promising to mobilize their communities to
take political action to combat climate change.  In the end, the bipartisan
Climate Security Act, designed to modestly regulate greenhouse gas emissions of
corporations through a free market “cap and trade” system, was defeated.

In light of this historical backdrop, Baptists who are hopeful for
immigration reform should proceed with cautious optimism. Baptists did not quit
on RFRA when it died in 1990 and again in 1992. Rather, they participated in the
resurrection of RFRA on the third try.  Hopefully, Baptists and other Christians
will not abandon the cause of comprehensive immigration reform if confronted
with political roadblocks similar to those of the past that have led so many
briefly-energized evangelical voices to shamefully desert the environmental
arena since the supposed “greening” of evangelicalism.

Read the rest here.

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Discussion

  1. Christiane says:

    Hi AARON,

    sorry for posting this here, but my comments are being mostly deleted by David Miller, so I put this comment on Voices, and I wanted you to know that I agreed with what you said there:

    “in short, did the ‘government’ confront what the denominations had not confronted along cultural lines to do with civil rights and race ?

    perhaps if the Church had been able to do this before the government stepped in, then it might have lost its membership at the time,
    but would have retained its moral authority in those days . . .

    moral authority is not something unrelated to Christian faith, but so closely connected to it that no daylight should come between the two

    maybe ‘the culture’ of the 1950′s had its own demons, and the denominations in the South remained silent in the face of those demons . . .

    what really happened? I agree with you AARON, people have to look at civil rights and racial problems in the South in the SBC hey-dey of the 50′s . . . to avoid that is to come to conclusions about the ‘good ole days’ that appear ‘wholesome’ but are sadly lacking in what was REALLY going on at the time
    - See more at: http://sbcvoices.com/the-sbcs-60-year-decline-beyond-the-blame-game/#comment-197649

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