Evangelical Christians are, once again, coming out en force to push for immigration reform. On Thursday, an array of faith leaders came together to throw their weight behind the Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT), a collective of pastors and preachers who are intent on seeing immigration reform enacted. TheBlaze first reported about this group back in June 2012, noting the fact that the initiative successfully bridges the divide between liberals like Jim Wallis and conservatives like Richard Land. Now, the movement has released a new video -- and a challenge initiative -- calling for believers to join in the push to revamp the nation's immigration system.
The video, entitled, "I Was a Stranger," is intended to spark Christian participation in a challenge that goes by the same name. The clip's description reads, "Evangelical leaders read from Matthew 25:31-46 in this video designed to help launch the 'I Was a Stranger' Challenge, encouraging Christians to allow their thinking about immigration to be informed by biblical principles."
Progressive Pastor Jim Wallis of Sojourners, who appears in the "I Was a Stranger" video (Photo Credit: Vimeo)
In addition to reading the verses, the pastors depicted in the video hope that viewers will take the "I Was a Stranger Challenge," a proclamation that calls believers to pray for 40 days, while reflecting on the many Bible verses that deal with the complex issue of immigration. The goal is to motivate the faith community to take action, as individuals can also challenge their churches, campuses and communities to engage on the issue. Here's how the challenge is framed:
Taking part in the challenge is simple. We've prepared a bookmark that lists forty different short biblical passages that relate in one way or another to the topic of immigration. Get your bookmark...stick it in your Bible, and commit to reading one passage each day for forty consecutive days. Set aside some time each day to pray as well, asking God to help you to see immigrants as he does, and also praying for elected officials, who have the responsibility of crafting public policies that dramatically impact the lives of immigrants.
A screen shot from the "I Was a Stranger Challenge" web site
"The heart of why evangelical Christians believe we should love, welcome, and seek justice for immigrants is our commitment to the authority of Scripture over every aspect of our lives," reads the web site advertising the challenge. "The Bible speaks clearly and repeatedly to God's concern for the immigrant, guiding the Christ-follower toward principles that we believe should inform both the interpersonal ways that we interact with our immigrant neighbors and the public policies that we support."
Watch the video, below:
Christianity Today has more about the new push for the EIT as well as the coincidental timing -- especially considering President Barack Obama's expected advocation of changes to the current system -- of the leaders' push for reform:
More than 150 evangelical leaders have renewed their calls for comprehensive immigration reform by signing on to the Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT), a relatively new initiative that unites, among others, unlikely partners such as Sojourners and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. According to CNN, a new video launched today will serve as the campaign's "first concerted push on immigration, with the goal of getting meaningful immigration reform through Congress in 2013."
And if all goes according to the president's plan, new legislation could come as early as August, reports The New York Times. Obama will urge the newly inaugurated 113th Congress to move quickly on an immigration reform package that likely will include a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, as well as "nationwide verification of legal status for all newly hired workers; add visas to relieve backlogs and allow highly skilled immigrants to stay; and create some form of guest-worker program to bring in low-wage immigrants in the future."
While not explicitly citing Obama's purported plans, the diverse faith leaders involved seek to fix what they see as a "moral, economic and political crisis" in America surrounding current immigration policies. For more about the EIT's campaign, "I Was a Stranger," click here.