The Salvation Army has announced that it does not endorse the National Association of Evangelicals' recent lobbying for amnesty and an increase in foreign labor importation.

With its National Commander on the NAE's executive committee, the Salvation Army is one of the largest denominations in the National Association of Evangelicals. A spokesman told NumbersUSA today that the Salvation Army is neutral on immigration policy and neither supports nor opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants.

"We came to the conclusion that it was inappropriate for us to sign" the NAE pro-amnesty document that was presented at a U.S. Senate hearing last week, said Major George Hood, National Community Relations Secretary.

NAE President Leith Anderson, pastor of an independent Minnesota church, had given the impression to the Senate that the NAE's 40 denominational members were unanimous in their support for amnesty.  

After saying that NAE represented 40 denominations, he was asked by Sen. Schumer (D-N.Y.) how much support there was for the NAE amnesty position in the evangelical community. Rev. Anderson responded:

We actually had a vote today on this resolution with leaders in the National Association of Evangelicals and there was no dissent ... On the board there are 75 (members) who represent the head of denominations.

-- Leith Anderson, President NAE

But Major Hood explained that the lack of dissent by a denomination was not the same as agreement. To what he called a large quantity of inquiries to the national headquarters about the NAE lobbying, he responded:

Please know that Salvation Army leadership chose to abstain from signing the final resolution on immigration reform.  While the news releases did not report this specifically, the fact remains that any resolution produced by the National Association of Evangelicals does not automatically become the official policy of a member organization (ie: The Salvation Army) unless they choose to make it so.  In this case, The Salvation Army chose not to adopt the resolution nor will it become our stance on immigration reform.  In actuality, The Salvation Army has never established any official position on this topic and has chosen to remain politically neutral on the matter.

-- Salvation Army statement, Oct. 15, 2009

Major Hood noted to NumbersUSA that the Salvation Army would never deny its charity to somebody because of legal status and would not inquire about it, quoting the denomination's official mission "of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and to serve suffering humanity in His name, without discrimination." 

But the question of whether an illegal immigrant should be given U.S. citizenship is the kind of political issue in which the Salvation Army does not involve itself, he said.

The denominations that DID sign the NAE document urged an amnesty for most of the nation's 12-20 million illegal aliens, stating that the government should . . .

. . . establish a sound, equitable process toward earned legal status for currently undocumented immigrants, who desire to embrace the responsibilities and privileges that accompany citizenship.

-- NAE document

Rev. Anderson amplified that before the Senate:

We believe that undocumented immigrants who have otherwise been law abiding members of our communities should be offered the opportunity to pay any taxes or penalties owed, and over time earn the right to become U.S. citizens and permanent  residents. The process of redemption and restitution is core to Christian beliefs, as we were all once lost and redeemed through love of Jesus Christ.

-- NAE President

The denominations that DID sign the NAE document also called for increased importation of foreign labor while nearly one out of five Americans looking for a full-time job cannot find one. The NAE explained its position on the basis of what it believes are labor shortages in the U.S.:

At the same time, many jobs and industries rely on immigrant workers. Current quotas do not grant enough visas to meet these needs, nor does federal immigration law provide sufficient opportunities to others who also come seeking gainful employment.

-- NAE document 

NumbersUSA President Roy Beck responded to the Salvation Army announcement, saying, "I am much relieved that this great organization that has done so much to relieve the suffering of the most vulnerable members of our national community is not working with other denominations to make it harder for these unemployed Americans to get a job because of an increase in foreign labor competition.

"It is fully understandable -- and admirable -- for religious groups to tend to spiritual and humanitarian needs of illegal aliens, even though their presence is the result of their breaking our immigration laws and illegally taking U.S. jobs.  But I hope leaders of other denominations will soon be making it clear that they also have no intention of hopping on the pro-amnesty bandwagon that helps lawbreakers by harming the weakest in our own national community."

Illegal Immigration
immigration reform

Updated: Thu, Oct 15th 2009 @ 7:18pm EDT