Sen. Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) attempt to claim overwhelming evangelical Christian support for his pending amnesty legislation has crumbled. His master plan was to use the staff and leadership of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) to give the impression of near unanimity.
But now it turns out that 75% of the NAE's member denomination will not sign up for the pro-amnesty crusade.
NAE & SEN. SCHUMER TRIED TO CREATE IMAGE OF SOLID EVANGELICAL AMNESTY SUPPORT
Early this month, the NAE tried its best to help Schumer in its Senate testimony and press releases to give the appearance of evangelical unanimity.
But after the members in the pews erupted, only 11 of the 42 NAE member denominations have been willing to sign on to endorse the NAE resolution that the NAE president presented in support of Schumer's "comprehensive immigration reform" agenda.
The NAE’s plunge into the amnesty debate stirred an immediate torrent of phone calls, faxes, emails and letters to the NAE member denominations. Many of the denominations have already posted disavowals on their websites, stating that they did not sign on to the NAE immigration document that was presented to the U.S. Senate by the NAE president, and that they have no intention of getting involved in the political amnesty debate.
However, some of the signers of the NAE document have come out swinging in defense of their actions.
HERE ARE THE SIGNERS OF THE PRO-AMNESTY ENDORSEMENT
According to the NAE website, the signers of the document are these:
- Assemblies of God -- Phone: 417-862-2781 -- Toll Free: 1-877-840-4800 -- Fax: 417-862-8558 -- Email: Info@ag.org, General Superintendent GeneralSuperintendent@ag.org, or from this page: http://ag.org/top/contact.cfm
- Church of the Nazarene -- Phone: 913-577-0500 -- Fax: 913-577-0848 -- E-mail from this page: http://nazarene.org/contactus.aspx
- Christian Reformed Church in North America -- Phone: 616-241-1691 or toll free 1-877-279-9994 ---- Fax: 616-224-0803 --- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.) -- Phone: 423-472-3361-- Fax: 423-478.7066 -- Email from this page: http://churchofgod.org/contact
- Elim Fellowship -- Phone: 585-582-2790 -- Fax: 585-624-1229 -- E-mail from this page: http://www.elimfellowship.org/content/sub.php?page_id=46
- Foursquare Church -- Phone: 1-888-635-4234 -- Fax: 213-989-4590 -- Email from this page: http://www.foursquare.org/contact/
- Grace Communion International -- Phone: 1-800-423-4444 -- Email: email@example.com
- International Pentecostal Holiness Church -- Phone: 405-787-7110 -- Fax: 405-789-3957 -- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Missionary Church -- Phone: 260-747-2027 -- Fax: 260-747-5331 -- Email: email@example.com
- Vineyard USA -- Phone: 281-313-8463 -- Fax: 281-313-8464 -- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Wesleyan Church -- Phone: 317-774-7900 -- Email: email@example.com
In addition, there is the:
- Brethren in Christ Church -- Phone: 717-697-2634 -- Fax: 717-697-7714 -- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
While not showing up as a signer, the Brethren's website proudly trumpets the denomination as voting for the pro-amnesty document. Like the websites of several of the signers, it erroneously says the NAE denominations were unanimous in support.
I don't know when 25% became unanimous!
Please feel free to contact all of the above churches to ask them why they believe that the illegal aliens holding 7 million U.S. jobs have more right to those incomes than the 7 million mostly less-educated Americans (disproportionately Black and Hispanic Americans) who unsuccessfully are seeking jobs in those same occupations.
- According to leaders of those denominations who have posted defenses of their actions on their websites, the Bible's commands to be welcoming and loving toward sojourners/aliens/foreigners/strangers is a requirement to provide U.S. citizenship to those illegal aliens who have not committed violent crimes and are willing to pay a fine.
- According to the leaders of those 11 denominations, the United States continues to suffer labor shortages throughout its economy, causing foreign workers to illegally enter this country to keep our economy humming.
- And they call for not only permanent work visas for the 7 million illegal foreign workers but also for great increases in the legal importation of foreign workers.
It is as if the leaders of these 11 denominations have not heard of the jobs depression that has swept the United States, or as if the people in their churches have been untouched by it. The federal U-6 Unemployment Rate is nearly 20% (people actively looking for jobs, discouraged workers who recently gave up looking, and people seeking full-time jobs who have had to settle for part-time work).
A BLOW TO SEN. SCHUMER'S MASTER PLAN
This business about what evangelical denominations are doing is far bigger than just a religion story. This is about Sen. Schumer's master plan to pass an amnesty.
When Sen. Schumer took over as Senate leader of the pro-amnesty movement from the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, he made it clear he was going to do some things differently.
After all, Kennedy -- after winning 7 amnesties from 1986 through 2000 -- had failed every year from 2001 to 2009 to pass the amnesty he was seeking.
Schumer this summer made clear three ways he was going to be different and attempt to win on amnesty:
- He would convince the public that he saw illegal immigration like they did -- as a problem. He started calling the "undocumented workers" by the name of "illegal aliens."
- He would in some ways appear to want to be tougher for enforcement than most of us in the anti-amnesty groups. He started talking about a national bio-metric ID card.
- And he began talking about bringing on an entirely new group of amnesty promoters as pro-amnesty partners -- evangelical Christians.
When I testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last summer, Schumer surprised me by using his time for questions talking about all the support he was getting from major evangelical leaders. He clearly has been putting a lot of hope in what the evangelicals could do for passing amnesty this time.
So, we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to all the NumbersUSA members who happen to be evangelical who have helped their denominations to avoid being used by Schumer for such destructive purposes.
HERE ARE NAE DENOMINATIONS WHO DID NOT SIGN PRO-AMNESTY DOCUMENT
Anglican Mission in America
Christ Community Church
Churches of Christ In Christian Union
Conservative Congregational Christian Conference
Conservative Lutheran Association
Evangelical Assembly of Presbyterian Churches
Evangelical Congregational Church
Evangelical Friends Church International
Evangelical Presbyterian Church
Evangelical Free Church of America
Every Nation Churches
Fellowship of Evangelical Churches
Free Methodist Church of North America
General Association of General Baptist
Great Commission Churches
International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies
International Pentecostal Church of Christ
Open Bible Churches
Presbyterian Church in America
Primitive Methodist Church USA
Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America
The Brethren Church
The Christian & Missionary Alliance
The Evangelical Church
The Salvation Army
United Brethren in Christ
US Conference of the Mennonite Brethren Churches
For those of you who members of one of these denominations, we at NumbersUSA need a couple of things:
- Please let us know if you see any sign of the denomination moving toward supporting amnesty.
- Give your leaders a pat on the back but warn them that the NAE leaders are not doing them any favors in the PR department.
A DELIBERATE ATTEMPT TO DECEIVE?
A northeast radio host asked me today if the NAE president was just plain lying when he testified before the Senate. My answer was that the Rev. Leith Anderson didn't lie but probably got caught up in the presence of political power and devised his answer to be as pleasing to Sen. Schumer as possible.
After Rev. Anderson introduced himself as representing 40 evangelical denominations, Sen. Schumer asked him how much support there was for the NAE call to turn most illegal aliens into U.S. citizens. Rev. Anderson gave the strong impression that the 40 denominations were unanimous when he answered: “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 who represent the heads of denominations.”
As it turns out, denominations that don't like a resolution tend to not dissent but just abstain. NAE positions are never supported by all the denominations automatically but only by those that wish to sign.
I'm not sure if I were a member of the NAE I would think this is a good system -- because the public is going to tend to think that any NAE document represents at least the majority of the denominations.
The NAE staff seemed really intent on helping Schumer with his plan, contributing to the image of evangelical unanimity with a press release to the nation’s media that began: “The Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), representing 40 denominations, scores of evangelical organizations and millions of American evangelicals, today approved a resolution calling for action on immigration reform.”
As a result of all that, major news organizations have been reporting that the "nation's largest evangelical organization" has "unanimously" approved the call to legalize the illegal population.
(I hope all of you will consider contacting any reporter or publication that spreads that untruth. Remind them that 25% is not the definition of "unanimous.")
EVANGELICAL CHURCHES THAT DON'T SUPPORT AMNESTY ARE NOT HARD-HEARTED
I see no evidence that the majority of denominations that don't support Schumer and amnesty are any less humanitarian toward illegal aliens than the pro-amnesty denominations.
Most of them are quite explicit that they encourage their churches to be hospitable and charitable to needy illegal aliens.
In contradiction of the attack on American Christians implied in the NAE document, the vast majority of U.S. Christians oppose amnesty NOT because they are unwelcoming but because they recognize complex ethical problems.
Historically high levels of immigration (legal and illegal) are contributing to great economic injustice against our most vulnerable citizens (by flooding various labor occupations). And the numbers are driving massive U.S. population growth, making it impossible to create an environmentally sustainable America (with grave consequences for the rest of the world).
When reasonable people wrestle with those economic and environmental issues honestly, they either agree with groups like NumbersUSA that there is a moral imperative to reduce immigration, or they recognize that they must choose the "good" of humanitarian concern for foreign citizens wanting to enter this country over the "good" of caring for the most vulnerable parts of our own society (disproportionately Black and Hispanic Americans, and the plants and animals entrusted in our nation's stewardship). But they have to acknowledge that there are trade offs.
I believe most American Christians agree with NumbersUSA that increasing foreign labor importation and giving permanent work permits to illegal aliens is working against jobless Americans, mainly Americans who are less-educated and seeking jobs in exactly the same occupations that are daily engorged by arrivals of mostly less-educated immigrants (legal and illegal).
Hard and unavoidable numbers are at the heart of the immigration issues -- not whether U.S. Christians like or love immigrants.
Whenever Americans' concerns about immigration veer into demonizing by word and deed the immigrants themselves, all of us are right in trying to correct that reaction.
Most of the denominations distancing themselves from the NAE position are clear that they will continue to provide pastoral and other help to illegal aliens but do not see a biblical mandate to make them U.S. citizens.
That is not the gospel according to Chuck Schumer, but it does reflect most American Christians' understanding of what the Gospel requires of them.
ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA. He has a background of more than a decade of teaching Sunday school and 20 years of leading youth mission trips to help poor Americans with housing needs. A survey of NumbersUSA members found them proportionately spread throughout every denomination, every religious faith and the large category of Americans who have no religious affiliation.
Updated: Thu, Oct 22nd 2009 @ 11:37pm EDT