On the heels of the Rick Perry Jesus-fest in Texas, it’s nice to see some mainline Christian groups stepping up to the plate in Alabama and actually getting some press for it.
Alabama took the mantle from Arizona for most regressive state immigration law in the country when it passed H.B. 56 in June. The law, which goes into effect next month unless stopped in court, contains Arizona-like provisions for police stopping “suspected illegal immigrants.” But it also goes further in forcing public schools to check the residency status of students and making it a crime to transport or harbor undocumented immigrants. The Obama administration has sued to stop implementation of the law, as have at least 16 other nations.
But the latest opposition is coming from a several mainline Christian groups: Methodists, Episcopals and Catholics have actually sued for the right to minister to people regardless of immigration status. These groups have long been supporters of comprehensive immigration reform, but stepping into the spotlight and suing the state is a good move, and reminds us that the Christian right is not the only religious group out there mixing it up in the political realm.
That reminder is important. To non-Christians such as myself, it’s easy to lump all Christians into one big group. I know that Christians have always been on the left and the right side of American history; I know that Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cesar Chavez were both Christians and I occasionally read liberal Christian journals like Sojourners. And perhaps the Christian right—the prayer breakfast, God and Country, fundamentalist right—is more amplified here in Idaho. But it seems like the Christian right is just so much louder than the Christian left. So I’m heartened to see mainstream, liberal Christians raise their voices through this lawsuit.
Maybe they could also take a hint from their non-proselytizing Jewish and Muslim brothers and start preaching to their own co-religionists on the right who have lost their way, rather than looking far and wide for new Christians?