One of the largest polls on immigration ever conducted has proven what we suspected all along:
National religious leaders who are lobbying Congress for ever-more immigration simply don't represent much of anybody.
This poll shows that a good way for a Member of Congress to lose considerable votes back home would be to listen to national religious leaders on immigration. While those religious leaders demand more immigration, the Zogby poll found that most Christian and Jewish voters want LESS immigration.
VIRTUALLY NO CHRISTIANS & JEWS AGREE WITH THEIR NATIONAL LEADERS THAT IMMIGRATION IS TOO LOW
The Center for Immigration Studies has done an excellent job of summarizing the official immigration positions and activism of most of the nation's largest religious groups and contrasted them to what Zogby found by asking the people in the pews.
The Catholic bishops, for example, have constantly been in the news all year, calling for more green cards. They have announced plans to mobilize their own members throughout the month of January in a pro-amnesty post-card campaign.
But Zogby found that only 4% of Catholics agree with their bishops that current immigration is too low.
It appears that 100% of lobbying by national Jewish organizations is for more green cards.
But Zogby found that only 5% of Jews agree that immigration is too low.
A large consortium of mainline Protestant national leaders is in the midst of a post-card campaign in their churches right now, planning to make in-person deliveries of the post-cards to the local congressional offices in January. Participating are the national leaders of the United Methodist, Lutheran (ELCA), Presbyterian USA, Episcopal, Disciples, United Church of Christ denominations.
But Zogby found that only 2% of mainline Protestants agree with their bishops and national agency leaders that immigration is too low.
Leaders of the National Association of Evangelicals excitedly stepped into the spotlight in October, proclaiming their support for higher immigration and more authorized foreign workers. National media showered them with affectionate attention for being broad-minded enough to buck the "mean-spirited" citizens who oppose high immigration.
But only 13 of the 42 denominations in the NAE actually were willing to sign on to the higher-immigration policies. And Zogby discovered that the rest of the (mostly small) denominations' leaders were uncharacteristically representative of their members. Of voters identifying themselves as "born-again" Protestants, only 3% agreed with the National Association of Evangelicals that immigration is too low. But the leaders of major evangelical/pentecostal denominations such as the Assemblies of God, the Church of the Nazarene and the Christian Reformed Church aggressively defend the calls for more immigration.
TIME FOR NATIONAL RELIGIOUS LEADERS TO STOP TALKING TO CONGRESS AND START LISTENING TO THEIR OWN MEMBERS
The only reason that I can figure that all of these religious groups are not in open rebellion is that most members don't realize that their national leaders are taking immigration positions that are so radically opposite the views of the membership.
When you see this kind of disparity, you can't help but wonder about some things.
Are the national religious leaders named above so incurious about their members that they don't realize this huge divide?
Do they really believe that most of their members are immoral on this issue? The national leaders' positions are so boldly confident and without nuance that they suggest pretty firmly that those of us who disagree are violating core principles of our faith. If these leaders really believe that, they must be extremely depressed to find that less than 5% of the members pass the morality test on immigration.
However, I know that the really great pastors are humble enough to know that what is preached through the lives, experience and reason of the pews is important to inform what is preached from the pulpit. Few pastors would get so out of touch with their congregations.
But the national leaders live in much more of a vacuum. They spend more time with national leaders of other denominations than they do with the U.S. citizens in the pews of the congregations.
The Zogby poll should be a wake-up call for these bishops and agency lobbyists. They came up with their high-immigration positions while locking out the views from the pews. Maybe they ought to start over by listening to what their laity have to say about all of this.
CHRISTIANS SUPPORT DRIVING ILLEGAL ALIENS BACK HOME 2.5- to-1 AND 6-to-1 (WHILE JEWS ARE SPLIT)
While religious adherents see no point in increasing the flow of new immigrants, they are a little more conflicted about the illegal aliens already living here.
Christians and Jews were given a choice between (a) legalizing the illegal immigrants (while making them pay fines and study English) and (b) enforcing laws to cause them to go back home over time.
Many people couldn't choose. But preferring attrition through enforcement (driving illegal aliens back home) over legalization (amnesty) were:
- Catholics (64% to 23%)
- Mainline Protestants (64% to 24%)
- Born-Again Protestants (76% to 12%)
Jews, however, were split, with 43% supporting driving illegal aliens back home and 40% supporting legalization.
But with all Jewish lobbying in Washington being in favor of amnesty, Zogby has shown that a huge segment of Jews is NOT represented on the amnesty issue.
POLL USED NEUTRAL LANGUAGE
If anything, the Zogby poll was worded in favor of the religious leaders' positions.
The term "illegal aliens" was never used. Nor was the word "amnesty." I feel certain that the results would have been even more lop-sided if those terms had been used.
The "legalization" option was described as including fines for the immigrants in the country illegally. In fact, the amnesty bill in Congress includes a fine of only $500, surely far less than most people would expect when hearing that illegal aliens would have to "earn" or "pay for" their right to permanent residency and jobs.
The poll did not give people the option of mass deportation because not a single one of the 535 Members of Congress currently is proposing that option. So, the choice given in the poll as regards amnesty was between the two options actually on the table.
A FEW BIG DENOMINATIONS LOOK PRETTY SMART RIGHT NOW
Not every large religious organization is totally out of step with its members on the immigration issue (although most are).
The Southern Baptist Convention -- the nation's 2nd largest denomination and the largest Protestant and evangelical body -- has thus far stayed out of the amnesty fight.
So apparently have all the other two or three dozen Baptist denominations.
And the Mormon Church.
Also abstaining thus far are the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church and the Christian (eastern) Orthodox denominations.
Most of the dozens of denominations with fewer than 500,000 members have resisted calling for amnesty and more immigration.
But the leaders of most of the biggest denominations -- representing a big majority of all American Christians -- are lobbying for more and more foreign workers and faster and faster U.S. population growth. It is this group of leaders about which the Zogby poll raises big questions.
One question that Members of Congress can answer immediately, though. That is, should they pay any attention to the pro-amnesty lobbying of these religious leaders? Answer: Not if they want Catholics, mainline Protestants, born-again Protestants and Jews to be happy voting for them in the 2010 elections.
ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA
Updated: Mon, Jul 24th 2017 @ 2:56pm EDT