Texas Faith Leaders’ Letter to Presidential Candidates
February 25, 2016
February 25, 2016
Dear Presidential Candidates,
As many of you join us in Houston for today’s debate, the undersigned Christian leaders call on all candidates for president to craft a new, solutions-based message on immigration that addresses not only border security but also our economy and the well-being of our state’s immigrant communities.
We expect respectful, informed dialogue with a biblical view for justice and mercy as we work together to solve our challenges. Scripture teaches us that every human being is made in God’s image and is endowed with inherent dignity and potential to flourish.
All people, including immigrants, deserve respect. Jesus demonstrated high regard for foreigners in his teaching and actions, and he identified himself with the stranger in Matthew 25. We recognize that immigrants can be agents of blessings to their receiving communities as well. This has been true throughout our history.
Immigrants continue to contribute to our economy. Texas is home to almost 4.4 million immigrants. More than 40 percent of Texans are Latino or Asian. As of 2010, more than 20 percent of all business owners in Texas were foreign-born, and from 2006 to 2010, immigrant businesses in Texas generated a total net business income of $10 billion.
Immigrants are not only our co-workers but also our neighbors, friends and members of our church family. Having lived and worshiped together, we know them to be vital members of our community. When our immigrant neighbors are attacked with harsh rhetoric, their pain is also our pain.
Millions of immigrants in the U.S. continue to live in the shadows. As Christians, we are commanded in Scripture to uphold the law. But our current outdated policies mock the rule of law rather than strengthen it.
We believe in a sensible solution between the extremes of mass deportation and blanket amnesty. A 2015 LifeWay Research survey found that 7 in 10 evangelical Christians support immigration reforms that include border security and the opportunity for undocumented immigrants to earn legal status and/or citizenship.
Scripture guides us toward a just and compassionate response to immigrants in our country. We encourage you to heed its words and get to know our communities. Come meet us and our immigrant neighbors, friends and fellow church members.
We are confident that you will discover, as we have, that we are stronger when all members of our community have the status and opportunities to flourish.
Dr. Steve Bezner, Senior Pastor, Houston Northwest Church
Rev. Dr. James T. Birchfield, Senior Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Houston
Rev. Emily L. Chapman, Senior Pastor, St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, Houston
Rev. Dan Conway, Christ Church Sugar Land
Jimmy Dorrell, Senior Pastor, Church Under the Bridge; President of TxCCDN; Executive, Director of Mission Waco, Waco
Reverend Butch Green, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
Reverend Nell Green, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
Wes Helm, Associate Pastor, Springcreek Church, Garland
Chad Karger, Lead Pastor, Cy-Fair Christian Church, Founder Better Days, Cypress
Brenda Kirk, South Central Regional Mobilizer, Bibles Badges and Business
Tim Moore, Senior Pastor, Walk Worthy Baptist Church, Austin
Rev. Ray Perales, Pastor, Christ United Methodist Church, Stockdale
Dr. Willie O. Peterson, Assistant to the Superintendent, Midsouth Conference Evangelical Covenant Church, Coppell
Rev. Ray Pinard, Moody Methodist Church, Galveston
Paul Randall, Associate Pastor, Ecclesia Houston
Bishop Michael Rinehart Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod, ELCA
Aaron Sanders, Lead Pastor, Coastal Community Church, Galveston
Ademir Simoes, Past President, North American Brazilian Baptist Association, Austin
Keith Stewart, Senior Pastor, Springcreek Church, Garland
Rev. Dr. C. Chappell Temple, Christ Church Sugar Land
Rev. Leslie S. Tomlinson, Pastor, Lutie Watkins Memorial United Methodist Church, Llano
Marty Troyer, Pastor, Houston Mennonite Church, Houston
Rev. Dr. Steve Wells, Senior Pastor, South Main Baptist Church, Houston
Rev. Dr. Stephen P. Wende, Senior Pastor, First Methodist Houston