Barrett Duke of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission says that after baptizing immigrants and welcoming them into their churches, evangelicals have a harder time believing they should be deported.
A Southern Baptist Convention official says evangelicals are galvanizing around immigration reform because increasingly if affects someone they know.
"A primary motivating factor for us is this has become personal for us," Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy and research for the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said Oct. 29 in a panel discussion before 600 national leaders who converged on Washington to lobby Congress to pass immigration reform.
"Evangelicals ... share the gospel with anyone who will stand still long enough to have a conversation with them," Duke quipped, "and of course many of those folks end up trusting Christ as savior."
"We tell them: 'Now that you've come to know the Lord, you should join a church; you should be baptized and join the church.' So many of them follow that path and now they are members of our churches."
"What are we going to do?" Duke queried. "Are we going to say now that you've done all that and you've joined our church it's time to leave? It's not going to happen."
"These folks have now become part of our congregations," he said. "We recognize that they are good people. They are strong, family oriented people. They are hardworking people. These are folks who are contributing to our society and to our culture. They're people that we know.
"They're our friends and our neighbors now, and we believe there is a better way to treat them than they are being treated right now. So evangelicals in large measure are now calling for an immigration reform that will treat them with the dignity that they deserve."
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SOURCE: Associated Baptist Press