Religion and the Republican Party, Part III of III

In Leviticus 19:33-34, God states, “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong […] you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt…”

Echoing Leviticus, Pope John Paul II stated in a 1995 address titled The Church and Illegal Immigration that “[t]oday the illegal migrant comes before us like that ‘stranger’ in whom Jesus asks to be recognized. To welcome him and to show him solidarity is a duty of hospitality and fidelity to Christian identity itself.”

And that’s not all. In addition to stating its opposition to “enforcement only” immigration policies and support for comprehensive immigration reform, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a 2003 pastoral letter titled Strangers No Longer, states that “[w]hen persons cannot find employment in their country of origin to support themselves and their families, they have a right to find work elsewhere in order to survive. Sovereign nations should provide ways to accommodate this right.”

Catholic bishops, the Bible, and Pope John Paul II agree, whether explicitly or implicitly, that illegal immigrants should be taken care of, shown dignity, and given help. Yet the Republican Party as a whole has taken a hard-line stance against comprehensive immigration reform, opting to support “enforcement only” immigration policies instead.

Take for example Lamar Smith, Steve King, and Bob Goodlatte, some of the most powerful Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives. These men sit on the House Judiciary Committee, which, according to ABC News, is “the committee tasked with overseeing the nation’s immigration laws.” All of them, along with many of their peers, oppose a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Instead, they want illegal immigrants to navigate the process that’s in place now, a process that’s already made immigration impossible for millions of desperate Latinos. At the same time, these men unanimously support increased border control.

Similarly, the Republican Party’s official platform ignores comprehensive reform, instead calling for a number of new policies that would make it nearly impossible for illegal immigrants to live in the country and find jobs. These proposals headline an immigration platform that spurns comprehensive reform entirely, instead opting to focus on increasing border control and making life difficult for millions of illegal immigrants.

The nail in the coffin here is neither Republican leadership nor the party platform; it’s the voters themselves, who, coincidentally, claim to be overwhelmingly Christian. In a recent Washington Post poll, only 42% of Republicans supported a path to citizenship; in the same poll, 92% of Republicans supported stricter border control. In another Washington Post poll, when told that President Obama supported a path to citizenship, only 39% of Republicans expressed support for such a reform.

These numbers are disheartening. As noted many times before, the Republican Party claims to be the “Party of Christ,” and its voters claim to be overwhelmingly Christian. Yet the party and its base continue to oppose comprehensive immigration reform in favor of stricter border control. Pope John Paul II and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops made it very clear: every Christian has the duty to help illegal immigrants and not merely lock them out. As a whole, the Republican Party hasn’t lived up to that duty.

What I’ve said today should anger you. The Republican Party claims to be the “Party of Christ” and it’s not. As Christian voters, we have an obligation to vote with our faith in mind. We aren’t doing that right now. Blinded by the laudable desire to ban abortion and defend marriage, we’ve lost sight of many other issues.

This doesn’t mean all is lost. On the contrary, it is our job as Christian voters to use this information to help the Republican Party find its way, and in doing so return God to His rightful place at the forefront of conservative political thought.

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