By Marjorie Jeffrey (@MarjorieJeffrey)
The immigration bill in the Senate seems all but unstoppable, but pro-amnesty religious activists aren’t taking any chances. All this week, on the Capitol grounds, the Evangelical Immigration Table will be holding prayer gatherings every morning at 10 AM to pray for the passage of immigration reform in the Senate. A different group represented by the Evangelical Immigration Table will host the meeting each day.
A group of about twelve activists gathered this morning for today’s meeting, which was hosted by Sojourners.
The prayer gathering was informally led by Lisa Sharon Harper, Director of Mobilizing at Sojourners, who declared at the outset, “This is not just an action. This is a truly spiritual moment. We are calling on God to move the hearts of the legislators.” She also mentioned that Sojourners was sponsoring the event, and that, “We are proud to be founding members of the Evangelical Immigration Table, who put this together today.”
The prayer gathering, which lasted about 30 minutes, was organized along the lines set out by a sheet which was passed around to participants, which listed passages from the Bible and encouraged those gathered to pray as they were moved to do so. Also included were suggestions for prayers, such as asking God, “To convince Christians that He can judge a people for their failure to protect the vulnerable”, and, “To put a holy fear in Christians of His judgment for improper treatment of immigrants.
Individual prayers from participants included a prayer “for those who are white, Lord, and those of us who have experienced a lot of privilege.” Another young woman prayed for more children’s book authors to portray immigrants in a more flattering light. Ms. Ivonne Guillen offered a prayer in Spanish.
Harper took a turn at prayer, saying, “I pray for the Hoeven-Corker amendment, and the reality that it has passed. But I pray Lord that it does not get any worse.”
Rose Berger, a longtime social justice activist and Sojourners associate editor, offered prayers during the event, calling on Congress: “And as we stand trembling in awe of your love and your power, let us also convey a holy fear to those in Congress. They have a choice to do what is right. Let them tremble if they choose to do what is wrong.”
Ms. Berger closed the event. After reading a passage from the Book of Revelation, (Rev. 7:9-10), she concluded with these words:
Empires are slippery things. And Revelation is a love-letter from John to small communities in the middle of a big empire. We are a small community in the middle of a big empire. This Capitol grounds is soaked in the blood of slaves, who died building this building. We brought people five hundred years ago in chains to help build this country. Five hundred years later, people are begging to get into our country to help build it. And we’re pushing them out. All of this is resulting in death. The atrocities of slavery and the atrocities of making people come through very dangerous routes to enter this country. But the ark in this country, of the people who stand for liberty and justice, is a moral ark. And it bends toward justice. And it bends toward liberty. And it bends toward peace for all of us. And so we say to the Congressional representatives and all those who are making laws on the Hill today that affect millions of people, [here all were encouraged to lift their hands towards the Capitol] we invite them today to come to the winning side. We invite everyone in the House to come to the winning side. We invite everyone in the Senate and in the White House and in the Judiciary to come to the winning side… We don’t know if it will be today, we don’t know if it will be this week, but it will come. And we will recognize the moment, and we will celebrate the moment, and we hope that they will be part of that moment also. Because this is a country where we pray for liberty and justice for all. For all.
The event wrapped up with a hand-clapping chorus of “Amen”.
Event organizers declined to comment after the event, but encouraged communication via email. When asked to comment about who exactly is funding the Evangelical Immigration Table, the Director of Communications referred me to the National Immigration Forum’s recent statement, which claims that no funding from George Soros is being used to pay for the Evangelical Immigration Table’s media campaign.
However, we still don’t really know who is paying for the ad campaign. While Rev. Sammy Rodriguez claimed in an interview with the Christian Post that the campaign was paid for by the Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber has denied this. Ali Noorani, President of the National Immigration Forum, has also said that the Chamber of Commerce paid for the ad campaign. Sojourners seems to be staking their claim on that side of the dispute.
Richard Land, President of the Southern Baptist Convention, has said that he would welcome George Soros’ funding, if it turned out that he was behind the money for the media campaign. Dr. Land also happens to serve as the Executive Editor of the Christian Post.
Sojourners’ representative also declined to comment on Eric Metaxas’ removal of his name from the Evangelical Immigration Table (though it has yet to be removed from the official website). They also declined to comment on whether or not anyone else had asked to be removed from the list.
In the afore-mentioned interview that Rev. Rodriguez did with the Christian Post, he ended with harsh remarks against those who would try to stand in the way of his preferred form of amnesty, such as Kelly Kullberg, Founder of Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration Reform. Rodriguez said this:
Accordingly, let me remind my Christian brothers and sisters not to be manipulated by groups that advocate a population control, anti-life agenda such as the very leading groups opposing immigration reform. Evangelicals were on the wrong side of history when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marched against segregation. This generation will not make the same mistake.
Rodriguez’s response to being accused of manipulation is to accuse others of manipulation, while hinting that those who oppose amnesty are just as bad as those who opposed the Civil Rights movement. But it is even more ironic that when he refers to anti-immigration groups that advocate population control and abortion, he is repeating the old the lies of a smear campaign earlier this year, circulated by none other than the National Immigration Forum themselves.
In the end, we’ll probably just have to pass the bill to find out who funded the support for it. Sounds familiar.