BALTIMORE (TAB) — Two Alabama Baptists asked questions from the floor of the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting following the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) report given June 11 by president Russell D. Moore.
John Killian, pastor of Maytown Baptist Church and president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention, told Moore that a statement recently signed by 371 Southern Baptists on biblical principles included one on immigration policy — a policy that “faithfully advances justice (and) should give primary concern to the welfare of citizens.”
“Dr. Moore, you and a number of other Southern Baptist leaders are urging Congress to adopt comprehensive immigration reform, which raises immigration levels and legalizes those who broke our laws in coming here. My question is: How does increasing immigration affect the least of these among our nation’s citizens, including high school dropouts, the disabled, older working-age adults, native-born African-Americans and Hispanics, and veterans?”
Moore shared about a recent visit to a Southern Baptist church where numerous baptisms were performed in other languages than English.
“This was a Southern Baptist congregation that was reaching everybody in its community including a large number of people who were not born in this country. What Dr. Richard Land, my predecessor, and I have called for is a country that actually lives up to what it has said it is going to do. Right now, we have a broken immigration system in this country. … What we are not advocating is for any kind of blanket amnesty for people who are here illegally in this country. We’re saying we have 11 to 12 million people in this country who are not documented. Some of those people are breaking our laws, shouldn’t be here. … We need to know who they are and send them back. But there are other people who are here … who broke our laws, but they’re saying, ‘How do I make it right?’ … Some of them are in churches where entire families are going to be ripped apart. … So, what do we do? I think what we do is this: We say we need a government that actually secures the border and does what it is supposed to do. And then we need to say, ‘How do those people who have broken the law but are who law-abiding, loving, giving to their communities, many of them members of our churches — how do they then make it right?'”
Jay Stewart, pastor of Dwight Baptist Church, Gadsden, also asked Moore about immigration policy: “Recent news coverage shows us that we have a humanitarian crisis on our southern border with nearly 100,000 children expected to cross the border in the next year alone. Dr. Moore, is all this discussion of dreamer kids and the promise of a coming mass legislation and illegal immigrants causing a rush on the borders, won’t that continue if the comprehensive immigration reform is passed by Congress?”
Moore answered: “No, it won’t. … If we get sensible immigration policies in this country, that will stop, because one of the problems that we have right now is that we have a United States economy that is built on a government kind of turning the other eye to the border. What we need right now is a government that says, ‘How do we fix the problem that we have as it exists right now?’ And along with that, in any legislation, is policies not only to secure the border but also to hold businesses accountable for hiring people who are not documented and able to be in this country. … So when we’re talking about immigration reform, we’re talking about justice, about rule of law, and we’re talking about compassion for those who are in a very vulnerable situation in our country right now.”