Southern Baptists’ struggle over immigration

WASHINGTON — As a guide for law or legislation, the Southern Baptists’ new resolution on illegal immigrants is virtually useless. It’s vague, confusing and perhaps inherently contradictory. It wouldn’t help Congress pick its way through the political thickets associated with addressing the plight of the undocumented.

Nevertheless, the Baptists have done something very useful: They have established a moral marker for their congregants, some of whom are governors, state legislators and members of Congress. Since so many conservatives in public life like to point to their religious views as a guide for their political acts, the resolution ought to have a substantial influence on immigration debates.

Last week at its annual meeting, the Southern Baptist Convention called for “a just and compassionate path to legal status” for the nation’s estimated 11 million undocumented workers. The “messengers,” as the convention delegates are called, also denounced bigotry and harassment toward those who are here illegally.

The resolution was hotly debated, and it carries no imprimatur   of authority for the millions of Southern Baptists across the country, whose churches take pride in their autonomy. They have no hierarchy — no pope or bishop to enforce adherence to church doctrine.

Furthermore, the clause in the resolution that dealt with legalization barely survived, with just 51 percent of the messengers supporting it in an early vote, according to the Baptist Press.

The delegates later added an amendment which noted that the Baptists were in no way endorsing “amnesty,” a hot-button term without any precise meaning.

Still, the Southern Baptists, the nation’s largest Protestant group and one of the most conservative religious bodies in the country, managed to end up sounding a lot more like President Barack Obama than, say, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, who recently signed a vicious anti-immigrant law that harkens back to the days of Jim Crow. As the vote proceeded, Southern Baptist seminarian Russell Moore tweeted: “Our response to the immigrant communities in this country cannot be ‘You kids get off my lawn’ in Spanish.”

The Rev. Bryant Wright, a suburban Atlanta pastor and president of the SBC, told me that the focus of the resolution was on “sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the folks who have come in to the U.S.” He acknowledged, however, that the evangelical mission of Southern Baptist churches could collide with harsh new laws aimed at illegal immigrants.

“I realize that once you start to reach out and deal with those folks’ personal stories, some interesting situations are going to develop. Those are going to be issues that every church ministering to immigrants is going to have to decide,” he said.

Phoenix, where the SBC held its convention, served as the backdrop for the debate, but Arizona is having to share its anti-immigrant notoriety. The Bible Belt — traditional home of Southern Baptists — has also seen a wave of codes and sanctions meant to force illegal immigrants to leave.

Georgia, for example, is struggling with a severe shortage of agricultural workers that many farmers are attributing to a law that Republican Gov. Nathan Deal signed in May. Even former Gov. Sonny Perdue, Deal’s Republican predecessor, said the law has created “a real fear and perception that Georgia is probably not a state to be seen in if you’re of a different color.”

But Alabama, my home state, has gone much farther than Arizona or Georgia, passing the broadest and ugliest anti-immigration law in the land. It not only gives law enforcement officials the authority to determine legal status, but it also demands that schools determine whether students have legal documents. (That’s just foolish time-wasting, since the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that public schools must educate minors, whether they are here legally or not.)

It would penalize property owners if they rent to persons without legal documents. It also makes it a crime to harbor or transport an illegal immigrant.

That raises the prospect that a faithful church member could be arrested for giving children without papers a ride to Sunday school. Is that what Alabama’s governor, a longtime deacon in a Tuscaloosa, Ala. Baptist church, had in mind?

146 comments Add your comment


June 22nd, 2011
10:42 am


Another Voice

June 22nd, 2011
10:43 am

@Woodstock Mike
“Every civilized country in the world has immigration laws, why shouldn’t the US? ”
When the laws are flawed and do not meet with the economic realities of the world they merit to be changed and reviewed, everyone know s that the US Immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed that is why we are here today.
“Hasn’t anyone taken a look at the financial situation in America?” Rinning a large sector of the population out of the state will on ly further contract the economy as there are less dollars being spent into the economy. As business make less money they have less incentive to hire more workers. Tax revenues decrease which makes the State’s deficit bigger. Immigrant dependent business close further exacerbating the economic reality of today. Yes I think we are all looking…
When an illegal gets sent to prison who pays for it?
Immigrants have the lowest crime rate in the country because the last thing they want to do is deal with the police. Usually they get deported so they do not really get out of prison but if they can get out since they can not get bonded they pay for all their fines and fees to society themselves.
When an illegal goes to the emergency room, who pays?
They pay taxes like the rest of us, sales taxes when they buy things and property taxes for cars and some have houses, unless they have gotten deported and forced to be foreclosed on…. Immigrants use education and healthcare but they contribution outpace the use of resources. Their payroll taxes are kept by the government. The SS trust fund grows at the rate of $7 billion annually in unmatch contributions presumably from Undocumented workers and they got $100 sitting in the pot I think they pay their fare share. SHOW US YOUR STATS(since you make the claim that they cost us).
When an illegal uses the school systems who pays? Same example as above and most of the kids are US Citizens…..
“If illegals are having a major negative effect on the country what can you do, just sit back and let it happen?” In fact history shows that Immigration has ALWAYS had a positive effect in the US through out history. Immigrants tend to be younger and have more kids. As now the baby boomers retire and for every 3 people that retire or will retire only 1 works Immigrants can fill that role and help the US economy continue to grow, if it was not for Immigrants the US birth rate would be negative, just look at Europe. They do not grow fast because their population is old. It seems that you need to go to school on this before you pose questions that you know very little about…..


June 22nd, 2011
10:43 am

We need to do a better job of closing the borders, a better job of assuring that employers can’t hire illegal immigrants, and then we need to have another amnesty, “path to citizenship”, whatever you want to call it.

Obama has actually done more to police the borders than Bush ever dreamed. He has sent back more illegals than Bush and investigated more employers. But our border with Mexico is, what, 2000 miles long and the border with Canada is, what, 4000 miles long. We will never get perfection but we can do better. In addition, we need better oversight of those who come on short-term visas – such as foreign students or relatives who come for a visit and never leave. Of course, we have to be willing to pay for it – so I am all for a tax increase.

What we need on the books are really tough penalties against employers. Republicans here won’t do it – look at the waffling in the state law. It is hard to imagine that national Republicans will do it – that would hurt their farmer buddies. But, they might – every once in a while they actually do something besides pass tax cuts or laws that affect marriage, abortion, or the sex lives of citizens. I don’t think the Dems will do it unless there is simultaneously a “path to citizenship” for those already here. And the Pubs won’t do the path. So, stalemate.

There is a way out. Close the borders and monitor those who are supposed to be here under a temporary visa, put real penalties in the law against employers of illegals, and one more amnesty.

casual observer

June 22nd, 2011
10:47 am

Another Voice

Sorry Pal …I’m running up the BS flag!!! I totally disagree with your opinion 100% and as a matter of fact most of it is opinion and NOT based on facts.

casual observer

June 22nd, 2011
10:51 am

Federation for American Immigration Reform

Executive Summary
This report estimates the annual costs of illegal immigration at the federal, state and local level to be about $113 billion; nearly $29 billion at the federal level and $84 billion at the state and local level. The study also estimates tax collections from illegal alien workers, both those in the above-ground economy and those in the underground economy. Those receipts do not come close to the level of expenditures and, in any case, are misleading as an offset because over time unemployed and underemployed U.S. workers would replace illegal alien workers.


June 22nd, 2011
11:02 am

Wow. To those who say the Bible says to ‘obey the law of the land’ I would love to know how you propose to punish the Americans who are actually breaking the law of the land? Or is this just about the Latinos who break the law of the land? Surely you want ALL who break the law punished? My guess in your selective use of Scripture you would not obey the Bible as far as witnessing and evangelizing this group before shoving them out the door. Nice selective use of Scripture.


June 22nd, 2011
11:02 am


Ahhhhhhh yes, the voice of a round ‘em up and ship ‘em backer.

How much are you willing to spend — on a per head basis — to accomplish this task?

Original Thought not Necessary

June 22nd, 2011
11:11 am


What you describe is so common it actually has a name: proof-texting. Quote the one scripture that tends to back up your argument while ignoring all the others that do not.

It is also common in political discussion with the words of politicians. The right proof texts the left and the left proof texts the right and we get no where and then whine and wail about how bad things are.

B Cosby

June 22nd, 2011
11:11 am

Let’s just say we treat ILLEGAL’s like the countries illegals come from treat illegals. You from Honduras? We’ll treat you like your government treats illegals. You from Mexico? We treat you like the Mexican government treats illegals. Get the point CT. I think the illegal traffic would slow down a bit if people crossing the border illegally kew they were going to be treated the way their own goventment treats people. Besides, Tucker, when your lawn boy, au pair, and housekeeper get deported, you’ll have the opportunity to help the unemployment problems the moron Obama created!!


June 22nd, 2011
11:21 am

And the Baptist added one more amendment to the resolution stating that they respect individual pastor’s rights to teach their congregation that the words of Christ only have to be followed when endorsed by reactionary Republican leaders.

Don't drink the Kool Aid

June 22nd, 2011
11:30 am

Actually Cosby … Mexico has been doing brutal roundups of Hondurans inside Mexico ( a Honduran was shot dead in one raid in Mexico City . What is funny are the excuses MEXICAN employers of illegals use there ( they do work Mexicans won’t do ) I kid you not !

The fact is people like Tucker doesn’t WANT a solution .Doesn’t matter . People like her are being made increasingly irrelevant every single day by their own actions .

[...] Source: [...]


June 22nd, 2011
12:28 pm

I am much more disturbed about the growing Baptist control over every aspect of life here in the south than I am over a few dollars from my wallet that go to feed, clothe, and care for fellow human beings that have fled here to find a decent life. The true criminals (those who will not obey our laws or who traffic drugs) should be prosecuted and deported…the law-abiding should be provided a way to earn legal status.. Perhaps the real truth behind the vicious anger against illegal immigrants is that they are not wanted at all, they don’t speak English, they are different, and “not like us”. Therefore, if we keep them “illegal” we can continue to not accept them and continue to fuel our righteous anger…something many folks just love to do. If the Hispanic immigrant issue (and let’s be honest here..this IS what people are up in arms about, regardless of objections otherwise), is resolved, there WILL be another to jump on…and another group of humans to be better than.

Sam Ina

June 22nd, 2011
12:36 pm

The vast majority of these illegals have come to USA only for a better life….that’s all.
Many of them have been living here for many years because the immigration department has not gone after them relentlessly.
When people live in a community for a long time they tend to forge relationshipd that become hard to break….if not INHUMAN to break.
Having compassion is by defenition the act of forgiving them their trespasses and embracing them.
The word that can be used to describe this is “AMNESTY”
It is not like a bad 4 letter word or something….even if you call it “pickled cucumber” or “earned legalization” it is nothing short of Amnesty.
No doubt there are illegals in the Baptist Church congregation because many of them are truly born again Christians…just that somehow they got thier immigration status messed up due to some bad advice from some attorney or something like that.
NO ONE wants to live illegally anywhere…circumstances force them to do so.
How can you possibly deport a person who came to USA as a child at age 2 or 3 with their parents and has lived here for over 15 to 18 years continuosly and calls this country HOME.

At a time when the US economy is in bad shape, if you charge these illegals even $1000 per family as penalty and get them to come forward and get legal status, that will bring in over a BILLION dollars into Federal hands… that can be used to boost the economy in so many ways.
At the end of the day…money talks.
Look at John McCain… a strong supporter of amnesty for immigrants and has been talking for so long trying to help illegals become legal… that HIS JOB IS ON THE LINE….he has changed sides and has become anti-immigration.
It is the same with Baptist Preachers and their congregations.
They talk about compassion because Jesus Christ had compassion on their filthy souls but now that they feel they are washed by the Blood of the Lamb….everyone else must go to hell.
The very same white republican conservatives used to believe that black man was created by God to serve them. And they were convinced the Bible said so.

Sam Ina


June 22nd, 2011
12:40 pm

“How much are you willing to spend — on a per head basis — to accomplish this task?”

What ever it takes! What ever the cost will be way less than housing, feeding, increased law enforcement, educating their multiple children, increased prisions, lossed from unlicensed and uninsured drivers, increased umenployment of Amiericans,…..need I go on?

Add up all the costs to the real Americans, and deportation costs are a bargain!


June 22nd, 2011
12:45 pm

What ever it takes!



June 22nd, 2011
12:47 pm

What a shallow way to spend the one life we are granted…counting pennies, making sure no one gets more of yours than you deem them deserving of…as if YOU had anything to do with how you eneded up
here in America… instead of some other country, living in squalid, miserable conditions.

too funny

June 22nd, 2011
1:17 pm

anybody read the other headlines in the last couple day at the AJC. Here’s a few instant classics….. List of rappers with face ink, out of work probationers picking crops for a few hours before walking off the job, man killed by his own pitbull, poor school testing results in Atlanta & Clayton county, a lady named Quantabia and her mom did somethig stupid, and the pic of the guy caught hanging upside down in razor wire after running from cops…..either the AJC really hates black people or it’s been a slow news week.


June 22nd, 2011
1:19 pm

Is very sad to see politicians going to church Sunday but Monday are doing legislation that can be used to knock down brown people, and they think they are doing great and following the ideas of Jesus.

Great Americans hypocrites like McCain saying there is evidence illegal immigrants are making the fires in Arizona. EVIDENCE is something you can show and prove but this people is like those who are still waiting to find the weapons of mass destruction in Irak.

The Lord Jesus was with poor people, was not with the rich and the famous.
But reality was that Jesus was killed using the same kind of legislation.
The legal king was not Jesus, so they wrote in the cross INRI what mean illegal king, the false king.

Is a very sad story.
May be true that if Jesus come again we will kill him one more time … may be not in a cross but in something like the electric chair.

Another Voice

June 22nd, 2011
1:32 pm

@Casual Observer who is BSing here coting the Federation of American Immigration Reform is like citing the KKK on a race issue. They are a known racist and restrictionist organization and their Factchecks do not add up, posting the lies on the blog only keeps the miss-information going and keeps fanning the hate flames.

also in the bible

June 22nd, 2011
1:42 pm

Deuteronomy 23:1 ESV
No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord.


When Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh, they did as the Lord told them. Aaron threw down his staff in front of Pharaoh and his courtiers and it turned into a serpent. At this Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians did the same thing by their spells.

If you’re gonna quote the bible everytime you don’t agree with someone, consider the above gems of wisdom also from the same bible you live by you poor fool


June 22nd, 2011
1:47 pm

Golden rule – do unto others…….

well you broke into my country and inflated my cost of tax payer servies by your illegal action. You have broken the golden rule.

Oh wait, you go to college or you only work meanial jobs? And you’ll be offended if asked for ID?
Well, OK then you broke the golden rule and all, but you can stay.

tax paying American citizen.

June 22nd, 2011
2:10 pm

Archie Bunker, YOU ARE NUTS !
You know what ,I used to be just like you when I was sleeping with the illegals . Then I had one put a switchblade to my throat on my property, just because I said something he didn’t like.
I used to just cry out for them all the time. Cuss anyone that didn’t agree with what I said. Well it took a beaten from one of those illegal scum to get my head screwed on right. I thank God for the beating that opened my eyes up. I worked with these people SIDE BY SIDE in the tobacco fields, in the factories, and you are a FOOL to think they are grateful for anything we Americans do for them. I have had them laugh and tell me, we know we are breaking the law and WE DON’T CARE! We are here, we are taking over GET OVER IT. now Archie Bunker, when one of your children is molested by one ,I don’t want to hear you whine and complain. Illegals don’t care what the take from hard working Americans . The don’t care you idiot ! They tell me that rules don’t apply to them. They can do whatever they like. The do the crime and then they run. Plain and simple.
If they were Christian they would know immediately that by being here in this country illegal is breaking the law. They don’t care . They even tell me that they come here to get the welfare , the free healthcare and just as soon as the free ride stops, they will leave. People WAKE Up.
yes, it’s one thing to be a Christian. But God is a God of order. Laws are meant to be respected.
When those people go home and come back the legal way, yes by all means LET’S HELP THEM.
They are like spoiled children whom mommy and daddy have never said the word NO to. Then when they do get reprimanded for something , they cut a shine and tear the daylights out of every thing. I don’t want to hear that I am racist. I used to date them until I got my head screwed on right. Thank God for that day.

Another Voice

June 22nd, 2011
2:23 pm

Enter your comments here


June 22nd, 2011
2:27 pm

Morons. All.

tax paying American citizen.

June 22nd, 2011
2:48 pm

Hey , here’s an idea. How about 30 million Americans , head on down to Old Mexico and become “undocumented workers” and let’s hang the American flag and protest in the streets every time we demand something be handed over to us and they don’t comply. Let’s demand free education for our children who are born there because we were “visiting”. Let’s demand free healthcare , and holler racism every time we don’t get the job. Oh , and they all need to learn English since we Americans are too lazy to learn Spanish. All of us women can get PG and become baby factories and spit a kid out every 9 months. So they can become Mexican citizens. Wonder if it could go on for decades like it has here in America without being unpunished ? I don’t think so. Mexico isn’t that stupid.


June 22nd, 2011
2:52 pm

Hey , here’s an idea. How about 30 million Americans , head on down to Old Mexico and become “undocumented workers”…

You planning on leading that parade?


June 22nd, 2011
2:56 pm

Hey, if 30 million Americans would head to Mexico to create more jobs, President Felipe Calderon would receive them with open arms… Also, FYI the majority of Americans who visit mexico are very well treated by the Mexican Citizens…

Michael N

June 22nd, 2011
3:21 pm

Here is another article full of inaccurate statements in an attempt to promote one point of view. Nice propaganda, very impressive. Unfortunately, it will not sway those educated enough to actually read the law.


June 22nd, 2011
4:31 pm

CT is right, she’ll always right. And it’s my job to take a swipe at anyone who posts anything counter to here viewpoint. And correct any misspellings along the way b/c everyone knows only stupid people misspell words.

I really don’t understand why everyone doesn’t give their undying love and affection for our lovely hostess.

I wish you all could see the shrine I’ve made for her at my mom’s house. I’ve taken a picture of it and mailed it in, but didn’t get a response. It was probably just lost in the mail.

And my one liners are funny darnit! I spend a lot of time patrolling this blog so nobody gets away with saying anything mean about her. Some people call me a sychophant, the epitome of a internet troll, a loser, unoriginal, but I don’t care. My goal in life is to defend dearest Cynthia. So all you bad people out there take note, my eyes won’t leave my computer screen from 8am to 8pm every day, so you better be on your best behavior. I know I will be, Cynthia might communicate with me, or better yet speak to me in person, that would be so peachy, I would probably cry. Oh a boy can wish though.

Tom Middleton

June 22nd, 2011
5:04 pm

Wow, Cynthia, Alabama’s “broadest and ugliest anti-immigration law in the land” has made us worse than even Mississippi in the human-rights arena. Now who are we going to make fun of, I mean, besides ourselves? Poor Alabama: Fiftieth out of fifty and still going down!

Maybe we should create legal sponsorship programs that allow churches to act Christian in spite of our governor!


June 22nd, 2011
5:13 pm

Between Exodus,Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy there are eleven places where God commands the Isrealites to treat the alien among you as you treat yourself. In Deuteronomy there is a curse, not a loosey-goosey injunction, but a full bore curse on those who mistreat the alien. The Bible is so pro immigration it hurts. But then why should anyone care what the Bible actually says?


June 22nd, 2011
6:41 pm


June 22nd, 2011
6:41 pm


June 22nd, 2011
6:44 pm

Two words: mystery meat.

Not Blind

June 22nd, 2011
7:22 pm

The phrase ‘illegal immigrant’ is convenient but illegal aliens are NOT immigrants.

Request to CT

June 22nd, 2011
9:45 pm

“…who recently signed a vicious anti-immigrant law that harkens back to the days of Jim Crow. …”… “…passing the broadest and ugliest anti-immigration law in the land…”.

CT – Perhaps you can write a column on what your United States would look like???

Lil' Barry Bailout

June 22nd, 2011
10:02 pm

CT: Another religiophobic hypocrite, cherry-picking policy statements that fit the libtard template.


June 22nd, 2011
10:14 pm

@Lil’ Barry Bailout : Now that was a lot of words to say absolutely nothing of any worth at all!


June 22nd, 2011
10:16 pm

Damn! That liberal bug is now infecting even the Southern Baptists! Where will all this outbreak of Christianity lead to?


June 22nd, 2011
10:24 pm

“…the Southern Baptist Convention called for “a just and compassionate path to legal status” for the nation’s estimated 11 million undocumented workers.”

Undocumented workers, there’s another nice sanitized term for illegals. And it’s not really an accurate term, because most of them do have documents – counterfeit documents.


June 23rd, 2011
5:36 am

“…schools determine whether students have legal documents. (That’s just foolish time-wasting, since the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that public schools must educate minors, whether they are here legally or not.)”

It doesn’t say anything about NOT educating them does it?


June 23rd, 2011
8:49 am

“…but Arizona is having to share its anti-immigrant notoriety.” First, Arizona is anti-illegal immigrant. Secondly, it’s too bad they can’t “share” the criminal violence that comes across their borders from the illegals. If these criminals are so commendable, there are at least two options open to them: (1) Enter the U.S. legally and work toward citizenship like many generations of legal immigrants before them; (2) Work toward making their own country better.


June 23rd, 2011
9:10 am

Tucker does not struggle with illegal immigration. She believes in open borders and the democratic party. But not in that order.


June 23rd, 2011
9:51 am

Interesting debate. No consensus was reached. Neither side will compromise. Which is where we have been for decades. And probably why the Federal policy will remain what it is today. The several states will enact some policies restricting illegal immigration that may or may not pass the test of the Supreme Court.

When last we passed a Federal Bill on illegals a Republican president, a Republican Senate and a Democratic House agreed on a compromise. And the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 was signed into law by Reagan.

Today any attempt to compromise would be DOA.

But change is on the horizon.

From the AP: “For the first time, minorities make up a majority of babies in the U.S., part of a sweeping race change and growing age divide between mostly white, older Americans and predominantly minority youths that could reshape government policies.” (cut)

“Demographers say the numbers provide the clearest confirmation yet of a changing social order, one in which racial and ethnic minorities will become the U.S. majority by midcentury.”

So if we do not change the law in a few years the new majority can make the decision.

Not Blind

June 23rd, 2011
10:41 am

Jconservative. The clout your “new majority” will have is going to be a direct result of illegal immigration and the birthright citizenship clause. In other words, it will be a power stolen from it’s rightful owners.