By / Nov 18

In this episode, Lindsay and Brent talk about Brent’s trip to Washington, D.C., and his productive meetings with lawmakers. They also discuss the Senate’s vote to move forward with the Respect for Marriage Act, the Republicans’ narrow victory to win the House, and Nancy Pelosi’s future. 

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  • Dobbs Resource Page | The release of the Dobbs decision marks a true turning point in the pro-life movement, a moment that Christians, advocates and many others have worked toward tirelessly for 50 years. Let us rejoice that we live in a nation where past injustices can still be corrected, as we also roll our sleeves up to save preborn lives, serve vulnerable mothers, and support families in our communities. To get more resources on this case, visit ERLC.com/Dobbs.
  • Sexual Ethics Resource Page | Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the constant stream of entertainment and messages that challenge the Bible’s teachings on sexual ethics? It often feels like we’re walking through uncharted territory. But no matter what we face in our ever-shifting culture, God’s design for human sexuality has never changed. The ERLC’s new sexual ethics resource page is full of helpful articles, videos, and explainers that will equip you to navigate these important issues with truth and grace. Get these free resources at ERLC.com/sexualethics.
By / Nov 14

Though results are still coming in from Tuesday’s midterm elections that will determine which party controls the House of Representatives, Congress is coming back in session today with a long list of legislative items to do before the end of the year. This session between the election and the swearing in of the new Congress in January is called the Lame Duck session.

This year, Congress must pass either an omnibus appropriations bill (a budget for this 2023 fiscal year) or another continuing resolution by December 16 to avoid a government shutdown and fund the government, as well as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), before the end of the year. Additionally, Congressional leaders have indicated that they may use this time to pass the Respect for Marriage Act in the Senate, reform the Electoral Count Act, take up permitting reforms, or raise the debt ceiling. As uncertainty lingers and fallout grows from Republicans’ disappointing electoral results, it remains to be seen exactly what will be done before the end of the year.

The Lame Duck also presents a unique opportunity for smaller, bipartisan bills to be passed into law. Oftentimes, these bills will be added on to the omnibus or NDAA packages. Other times, retiring lawmakers or those who were not reelected will be more willing to take votes that go against their party because they will not have to face voters following this session. These dynamics come together to occasionally allow bills to find passage that have been stuck in Congressional gridlock.

As we enter into this important legislative session, the ERLC will be advocating on behalf of Southern Baptists to uphold life and religious liberty and pursue biblical justice for the vulnerable. In this session, the ERLC’s top priorities will be protecting life and religious liberty in appropriations, opposing the Respect for Marriage Act, and advocating for permanent protections for Dreamers and Afghans in the US.

Protecting life and religious liberty in appropriations

Congress must either complete its appropriations work or pass another continuing resolution (CR) by the end of December 16. Congress previously passed a short-term CR in September to fund the government through December 16. 

On July 20, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a six-bill minibus, which included Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development; Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration; Energy and Water Development; Financial Services and General Government; Interior, Environment; and Military Construction, Veterans Affairs. Though all bills have been passed out of committee, the House has not yet taken action on Commerce, Justice, and Science; Defense; Homeland Security; Labor, Health and Human Services, Education; Legislative Branch, or State, Foreign Operations. The Senate has also released but not yet taken up its own version of these bills. If passed, these bills will have to be reconciled with the House versions. 

The FY2023 appropriations bills are troubling because they remove several longstanding pro-life riders from the budget. Just as last year, the Hyde Amendment has not been included in the Labor-HHS appropriations bill. The Hyde Amendment prevents Medicaid from covering the cost of abortion. At the 2021 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, messengers unanimously approved a resolution condemning efforts to strip Hyde from any federal appropriations bills and called upon Congress to uphold all pro-life riders.

Additionally, the appropriations bills removed the Weldon Amendment for only the second time since 2005. Weldon protects the rights of conscience for healthcare professionals and institutions by preventing HHS from denying funding to recipients that refuse to provide, pay for, or refer for abortion. The budget would also prohibit any president from reinstituting the Mexico City Policy, reestablished and expanded by President Trump, as the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy.

Though excluded from the initially released bills last year, these pro-life and conscience protection riders were ultimately included in the final FY2022 appropriations package. It is our hope that the same will happen this year. The ERLC is urging Congress to support protections against federal funds being used for abortion and to ensure that pro-life spending riders are approved in all spending legislation passed in the 117th Congress. We also are urging Congress to remove harmful provisions that would exclude people of faith from serving the most vulnerable. 

Opposing the Respect for Marriage Act

The Respect for Marriage Act is a bill that seeks to “repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and codify federal recognition for marriage equality.” As stated in the bill summary, “the bill repeals and replaces provisions that define, for purposes of federal law, marriage as between a man and a woman and spouse as a person of the opposite sex with provisions that recognize any marriage that is valid under state law.” The Respect for Marriage Act would also permit the Department of Justice “to bring a civil action” and would establish “a private right of action for violations.”

The Respect for Marriage Act is a federal legislative attempt to entrench, nationwide, the precedent set by the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which ruled that “state laws barring same-sex marriages were unconstitutional.” At its core, this bill is a further attempt by Congress to redefine marriage, a union that need not be redefined and which government has no authority to redefine.

On July 19, the House of Representatives voted to pass the Respect for Marriage Act with broad bipartisan support. The final vote was 267-157, with 47 Republicans joining with all Democrats in support of the bill. Before it can become law, the bill must be passed in the Senate and be signed by the president. For the bill to pass, 10 GOP senators will have to join all Democrats to overcome the filibuster’s 60-vote threshold. Senate Majority Leader Schumer has indicated that he plans to bring the bill to the floor for a vote, and sponsors indicate that they believe they will have enough votes 

In addition to going against the biblical definition of marriage, the bill poses serious problems for religious liberty. In a letter sent to the Senate on July 26, ERLC President Brent Leatherwood conveyed why the Respect for Marriage Act presents such grave religious liberty concerns for people of faith. He said, “Given the significant role marriage plays in faith, the ‘Respect for Marriage Act’ raises serious religious liberty concerns for individuals and organizations who maintain this view of marriage (the view that marriage is an institution created by God between one man and one woman for life) and are in contract with, funded by, or working jointly with the government.” 

Since Obergefell, rights of conscience and religious freedom have found themselves in the crosshairs of a number of notable cases including Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (2018) and Fulton v. City of Philadelphia (2021), each of which was ruled in favor of religious liberty. Should the Respect for Marriage Act find passage, however, we may rightly assume that rights of conscience and religious freedom will find themselves under threat yet again. The ERLC strongly opposes the Respect for Marriage Act and will continue to work against its passage in the Senate. 

Advocating for Dreamers and Afghans

Two populations of vulnerable people in need of Congressional action before a new Congress is sworn in are Dreamers, young immigrants who were brought here by their undocumented parents, and Afghan evacuees, who were brought to the United States through humanitarian parole after the fall of Afghanistan last year.

A recent decision from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) to be unlawful but temporarily allowed Dreamers, who currently hold DACA status, to temporarily maintain their status. The decision is likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court, where it is expected that the high court will uphold the decision, terminating the program. This recent decision means that Congressional action for Dreamers is needed more urgently than ever before.

Dreamers, through DACA, only have temporary protection with no path to legal permanent residency or citizenship, and only Congress is able to pass legislation that creates such a pathway to permanency. For now, these young immigrants, who were brought here at no fault of their own and have known no other home than the U.S., remain in severe uncertainty, facing potential future deportation if the DACA program were to be terminated.

Similarly, last year during the fall of Afghanistan, tens of thousands of Afghans who had served with the U.S. military or were especially vulnerable to persecution from the Taliban were evacuated to the U.S. through a tool known as humanitarian parole. Though this tool allows individuals to reach safety much faster than through the refugee resettlement program, it only provides two years of legal status and work authorization, whereas the refugee program includes a route to legal permanent residency or citizenship.

As these individuals approach two years in the U.S. this upcoming summer, they will be forced to either enter our backlogged asylum system, become undocumented and lose their ability to work legally, or face deportation back to Afghanistan, where they will almost assuredly face intense persecution. To remedy this problem, Congress must act to provide these individuals with a pathway to permanent status in the United States. The Afghan Adjustment Act would provide this protection for Afghans while also increasing national security through additional vetting procedures.

Both of these groups of people have an urgent need for Congressional action. Additionally, Kevin McCarthy, who is likely to be the future Speaker of the House of Representatives if Republicans win the majority, as expected, has indicated that he will oppose any immigration legalization legislation and block it from coming to the House floor for a vote. This reality makes it essential for Congress to take up protections for both Dreamers and Afghans before the new Congress begins. The ERLC is urging Congress to act quickly and provide a pathway to permanency for these vulnerable groups that have already become integral parts of our churches and communities. 

By / Jan 22

Public policy advocacy is one of the many ways the ERLC fulfills its ministry in the public square. We released our 2021 Public Policy Agenda, which focuses on more than three dozen policy issues we will advocate before the U.S. Congress. 

Below is a sample of our policy priorities in the areas of sanctity of human life, religious liberty, family and marriage, justice, and international engagement.

Some of these issues have been a part of the ERLC’s legislative agenda for the last several years; other issues are new and a product of the political moment in which we find ourselves. Legislatively, with two surprise results in the Georgia senatorial runoff elections, both chambers of Congress will be controlled by the Democratic Party during the 117th Congress, although with razor-thin margins. The Senate is divided 50-50 between the party caucuses, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking any ties. In the House, the Democratic Party holds control by a handful of votes.

Although Senate Democrats will have some procedural tools to pass legislation on partisan lines, broadly speaking, only legislation with substantial bipartisan consensus will be able to pass both chambers and be signed by President Biden. It will therefore be difficult to pass legislation within many of the areas of most concern for the ERLC, which do not enjoy broad bipartisan support, such as protecting the human dignity of the preborn, religious liberty, and comprehensive immigration reform. Nevertheless, the ERLC will work to advance and make progress on our public policy agenda in these divided times at the federal level.

Sanctity of Human Life

  • No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act: Americans are divided over the issue of abortion, and many Americans strongly object to their tax dollars being used for what they believe to be a great moral wrong. In 1976, the Congress recognized this reality and every legislature since then has voted to protect the consciences of pro-life Americans. Since its enactment in 1976, Congress has passed the amendment as a temporary rider which expires each year. The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act would codify the Hyde Amendment into law, by prohibiting federal funds from being expended for abortion or health coverage that includes coverage for elective abortion. 
  • The Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act: Federal law does not adequately protect a born child who survives a failed abortion. The Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act would amend the federal criminal code to require any health care practitioner present when a child is born alive following an abortion or attempted abortion to, first, exercise the same degree of care as reasonably provided to any other child born alive at the same gestational age, and, second, ensure the child is immediately admitted to a hospital.
  • Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act: This Act would prohibit the performing (or attempted performance) of abortions on babies at 20 weeks or greater gestation, except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. In the 115th Congress, the bill passed the House of Representatives. In the 116th Congress, the bill was introduced in both chambers, but did not pass either chamber. 
  • Preventing proliferation of chemical abortions: Chemical abortion (sometimes referred to as a medication abortion or pharmaceutical abortion) is a method that uses an abortifacient to stimulate uterine contractions and end the pregnancy in a process similar to miscarriage. The ERLC will continue to counter the abortion lobby’s efforts to distribute abortion pills.

Religious Liberty

  • Defending Religious Freedom during the COVID-19 Pandemic: The ERLC will continue to advocate that the government treat churches the same as similar activities, businesses, and spaces, while recognizing that God has given the state the authority to manage activities, businesses, and spaces during a national health crisis. To this end, the ERLC has produced a number of resources to equip churches as they work to understand the public health orders issued in their community and as they engage with local officials to advocate for their religious liberty rights.
  • Opposition to the Equality Act: There are multiple pieces of legislation introduced in recent years which aim to, at the most extreme, codify the demands of the sexual revolution and radically reshape religious freedom in the United States. In May of 2019, the House passed The Equality Act—a bill that would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under federal civil rights law. The bill would curtail religious freedom protections, hinder the work of healthcare professionals and faith-based hospitals, undermine civil rights protections for women and girls, and ultimately steamroll the consciences of millions of Americans. The ERLC believes that this bill represents the most significant threat to religious liberty ever considered in the United States Congress. We will continue to oppose the Equality Act and similar legislation introduced this Congress.
  • Opposition to Do No Harm Act: This bill, if passed into law, would weaken religious freedom protections for millions of Americans. The ERLC opposes the Do No Harm Act because it would do significant harm to the landscape of legal protections foundational to America’s first freedom.

Family and Marriage

  • Combating hunger during Covid-19 pandemic: The COVID-19 crisis has impacted food supply chains, driving up the price of food, which has a disparate impact for lower-income families. Many families find themselves newly needing to access the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). While Congress did expand and increase unemployment insurance and benefits, many families are still unable to feed their children. The ERLC has prioritized this issue by advocating for flexibility within the SNAP program, to ensure that individuals’ needs are met, and that all Americans have access to food security.
  • Responding to the opioid crisis: The SUPPORT for Patients and Community Act (H.R. 6) bill, signed into law by President Trump, marked a significant step forward in response to the opioid crisis. The legislation approved $6 billion in funding, curbed drug shipments, lifted treatment restrictions, expanded recovery centers, sped up new painkiller research, and made regulatory changes to Medicare and Medicaid. We will continue to engage with Congressional leadership and the Department of Health and Human Services on implementation of the SUPPORT Act and a range of efforts including poverty and welfare programs and training for the faith community.
  • Revive obscenity prosecution: The Obama administration’s Department of Justice terminated the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force (OPTF). Though the Department continued to prosecute cases involving children (which is essential), they ignored virtually all other violations of existing federal law which makes production and distribution of hardcore pornography illegal. The ERLC will advocate for the Department of Justice under the Biden Administration to seriously and aggressively confront exploitation of women, teens, and girls and boys by the pornography industry.

Justice

  • Permanent Solution for Dreamers: After multiple attempts to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, followed by more than a year of litigation and a Supreme Court decision, those young immigrants who were brought to the United States by their parents remain in an unstable situation. These immigrants broke no law, and yet they remain without permanent legal status. Now young adults, these Dreamers—many of whom have families of their own with children who are U.S. citizens—are workers, students, and positive contributors to their communities. We will continue to work closely with Congress and the Biden Administration to deliver a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers.
  • Criminal Justice Reform: The ERLC will continue to advocate for reforms that focus on transformation and rehabilitation, such as the Recognizing Education, Employment, New Skills, and Treatment to Enable Reintegration—or, RE-ENTER—Act. This bill allows eligible individuals with federal convictions to apply for a certificate of rehabilitation from a district court, attesting to a law-abiding future and a commitment to successful reintegration into society.
  • Human Trafficking: The ERLC will continue to advocate for anti-human trafficking legislation in the new congress—particularly legislation aimed at supporting trafficking victims.

International Engagement

  • Advocating for a strong Office of International Religious Freedom: The Office of International Religious Freedom at the Department of State is one of the most effective government institutions for protecting religious minorities, including persecuted Christians. The ERLC will advocate for the appointment of a strong, capable, and experienced Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom and for continuity of leadership at the Office until a new Ambassador-at-Large is appointed. We will also continue to advocate for international religious freedom to remain a top U.S. foreign policy priority.
  • International Pro-Life Engagement: The international abortion lobby is active and entrenched at the United Nations and also working to pressure countries around the world to legalize abortion. For decades, this lobby has been working to create an “international right to abortion.” The ERLC will continue to work against this lobby at the United Nations, ensuring that international law is not expanded to include such a right. In addition, the ERLC is exploring opportunities to support countries seeking to exercise their right to protect life within their borders.
  • Advocating for the elimination of blasphemy and apostasy laws: Dozens of countries still enforce these laws—often through the death penalty—prohibiting one from converting to another religion or speaking or acting in any way that is deemed offensive to the god of their particular religion. This is even enforced, such as in Pakistan, against adherents of other faiths. We are ERLC is committed to working to repeal these laws and ensure that all peoples have the right to worship freely without fear of persecution or penalization.
By / Jan 21

Yesterday, Joseph R. Biden, Jr. was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. To begin his presidency he is signing a flurry of executive orders (EOs), memoranda, directives, and letters. The Biden White House prepared and the new president signed 15 executive orders on his first day in office, more than any of his predecessors. This all comes in a week when the United States surpassed 400,000 lives lost to COVID-19. On that note, President Biden made clear with a memorial Tuesday night that combatting the pandemic is his top priority for his administration.

Some of the planned actions are praiseworthy, as they accord with the convictions and biblical principles of Southern Baptists. However, some of the administrative actions raise concern for the ERLC as they conflict with our public policy positions, informed by our theological convictions. Below is a discussion of a few of the actions taken by the Biden Administration yesterday, and those actions we expect in the coming days:

Protection for Dreamers and DACA recipients 

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a program that defers deportation proceedings for a subgroup of undocumented immigrants—those who entered the United States as children brought by their parents. DACA recipients are often referred to as “Dreamers.” Participants in the program, among other requirements, must demonstrate a commitment to education, employment, or service in our military; have no criminal backgrounds; and report for a biometric appointment with federal officials. The Trump Administration attempted to rescind the policy in 2017, but several lawsuits were filed shortly after the rollback began. In June 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Trump Administration did not follow proper procedures in rescinding the program, and as a result, DACA was kept in place.

Yesterday, President Biden signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Attorney General, to take all appropriate actions under the law to achieve the original goals of the DACA program. The Presidential Memorandum also calls on Congress to enact legislation providing permanent status and a path to citizenship for Dreamers.

The ERLC has long advocated for our government to provide a permanent solution for this special category of immigrants. We believe the only sustainable way forward, recognizing the range of beliefs about the legality of the DACA program, is for Congress to legislate a path to legal permanent resident status and, eventually, citizenship for Dreamers. Messengers at the Southern Baptist Convention of 2018 explicitly urged Congress to develop a “just and compassionate path to legal status” for undocumented immigrants already living in our country. Dreamers need a permanent legal solution that is not subject to the cycle of executives or the makeup of judicial benches.

Repeal of the Mexico City Policy

Next week, we anticipate that President Biden will rescind the pro-life Mexico City Policy. This policy was established by President Reagan to prohibit U.S. foreign aid to groups that provide or promote abortion overseas and has been a political football since President Clinton first rescinded it. The Trump Administration broadened the Mexico City Policy, and it is currently known as the “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy (PLGHA). The purpose of PLGHA is to “prevent American taxpayers from subsidizing abortion through global health assistance provided for populations in need.” This policy ensured that, in order to recieve any foreign aid, international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) agreed to neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning overseas. PLGHA expanded the Mexico City Policy to “global health assistance furnished by all departments or agencies” to the extent allowable by law. This policy only applied to voluntary family planning assistance funded by USAID and assistance for certain voluntary population planning furnished by the Department of State. 

The ERLC has advocated for this life-saving policy, and would strongly object to its rescission. Yet this expected change will not deter us from continuing to advocate for life in our international engagement.

Family reunification task force executive order​

In 2018, the Trump administration issued a “zero tolerance” immigration enforcement approach intended to deter illegal immigration. The policy change resulted in thousands of children being separated from their parents as they await adjudication. The children were kept in separate facilities and were unable to see their parents. While the refugee resettlement office at the Department of Health and Human Services made great strides at reuniting families, currently 628 parents of separated children are still missing. 

President Biden has signaled that he will create a task force to reunify families separated by the Trump Administration’s Immigration policies. The ERLC strongly supports family reunification and will work with the Biden Administration to see that children are safe again in their parent’s arms. 

Bostock executive order

Also yesterday, President Biden signed an executive order that seeks to implement and expand on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Bostock decision. Last summer, in a 6-3 ruling of a consolidated group of cases styled Bostock v. Clayton County, the Supreme Court expanded the definition of “sex” to be read to include “sexual orientation and gender identity” under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which relates to employment discrimination. The order will likely direct federal agencies to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes where discirminaton on the basis of sex is prohibited.

Although styled as implementing Supreme Court precedent, this EO in fact dramatically expands the scope of the Bostock decision, which only applies in the employment context. This EO will mean that sexual orientation and gender identity could be treated as protected classes in a range of contexts, such as education, health care, and child welfare. This will, in turn, raise a host of religious liberty problems, many of which will likely have to be litigated. 

The ERLC will be focused on the regulatory actions taken by the Biden Administration and will defend the inalienable rights of religious freedom and freedom of conscience for those who hold biblical beliefs about marriage and sexuality. Ensuring that these bedrock rights are respected by federal agencies will be crucial to the ability of faith-based organizations and people of faith to live out their faith and serve their communities without violating their consciences.

Repeal of the “Muslim Ban”

One of President Trump’s first actions in 2017 was signing an executive order to ban entry into the United States of nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syrian, Sudan, and Yemen) for 90 days, of all refugees for 120 days, and all Syrian refugees indefinitely. In response, Russell Moore sent the president a letter outlining his concerns with the order, noting that the Southern Baptist Convention reaffirmed its decades-long commitment to care for and minister to refugees in a 2016 resolution

On his first day in office, President Biden signed an Executive Action to end the policy that came to be known as the “Muslim Ban.” The ERLC welcomes this action as Southern Baptist’s commitment to welcoming the stranger has long been reflected in the SBC’s resolutions about those fleeing persecution in their home countries.

Government-wide regulatory freeze

Finally, President Biden intends to issue a memorandum that will pause any new regulations from the Trump Administration that have not yet gone into effect. The ERLC strongly opposes this move, as the freeze may hinder lawfully promulgated regulations from becoming final, including several regulations the ERLC supports. 

As an example of significant interest to the ERLC, on January 12, 2021 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) announced and published its final rule on nondiscrimination requirements in grants. This rule directly impacts grantees, especially faith-based child welfare providers by allowing them to continue serving vulnerable children in a manner consistent with their religious beliefs. Due to the delay of the finalization of this rule, this important regulation may be frozen and not implemented. The ERLC will continue to advocate for lawfully promulgated regulations to be finalized. 

Looking ahead

Every election brings new opportunities and new challenges. The ERLC will continue to work with the executive branch to advance issues of concern to Southern Baptists and will bear witness to policies pursued by the government that run contrary to biblical principles.

By / Jul 7

On June 18, 2020, the Supreme Court released their decision for the case Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California regarding the status of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. On this episode, Travis and Jeff speak with Jose Ocampo on his personal experience as a Dreamer and what is next for Dreamers after the Supreme Court’s recent decision. 

Guest Biography

Jose Ocampo is a “Dreamer” and DACA recipient who has recently graduated from Wingate University with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing. He is currently serving as the worship and youth associate at Iglesia Bautista de Hickory Grove in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Resources from the Conversation

By / Jan 24

ERLC is deeply concerned that 800,000 Dreamers are in a new stage of uncertainty and insecurity. The termination of the President’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), has proved that a durable solution for this special category of immigrants—those who were brought here by their—will require congressional action. As a country, we must provide a fair and just solution for these young men and women, not just because it is the “right thing to do,” but because it accords with biblical principles.

This is a justice issue because the Bible is clear that we do not hold children responsible for the actions of their parents. It is inappropriate to hold Dreamers accountable for violating the law because they were minors when their parents crossed the border and brought them to the United States. Many Dreamers are unaware of their undocumented status. Subjecting Dreamers to deportation, or lives of perpetual insecurity in the shadows of our communities, is an offense to the rule of law and to the purpose of government, which is for the good of people.

Immigration reform is a human dignity issue because every person, regardless of ethnicity or national origin, is an image-bearer of God. In 2011, the Southern Baptist Convention issued a resolution on immigration stating, “The Scriptures call us, in imitation of God Himself, to show compassion and justice for the sojourner and alien among us.” (Ex. 22:21; Deut. 10:18-19.) How we treat this category of immigrants – and all immigrants – reveals what we believe about them as divine image-bearers.

This is also a family policy matter because we believe American policy should promote the flourishing of families. God ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society, and children are a blessing from the Lord. Broken families, wherever they are found, put women and children at risk and increase likelihood of poverty and crime—as well as the likelihood of dependence on government programs. As one priority among others, we believe policymakers should uphold the role of the family when addressing immigration policy.

This unresolved area of immigration policy breeds religious liberty concerns because churches are uncertain of how they can lawfully care for their immigrant neighbor. If a church offers transportation to a Sunday worship service and a Dreamer steps into that church vehicle, is the church liable for transporting illegal aliens? Federal law and policy should clarify that churches may lawfully carry out their task of loving their neighbors.

By / Jan 9

Matt welcomes Vanessa Gutierrez (Michigan) and Elisa Gonzalez (South Carolina) who share what it’s like to be “Dreamers” and DACA recipients.

Vanessa Gutierrez, Office administrative assistant, Sinclair Recreation, Holland, Mich.

“I am from the city of Monterrey in the State of Nuevo Leon, Mexico. I came to the U.S. at the age of 3 years old. I went to school and graduated with my diploma at West Ottawa High School and diploma in biblical studies at Leaders for Christ Training Center (International School of Ministry) in Holland, MI. I also studied part time at Grand Rapids Community College and desire to continue pursuing a college degree. I live in Holland, MI and work as the administrative assistant and customer service for a private company. In the future my goals are to become a U.S citizen, travel abroad, and become a published author.”

Elisa Gonzalez, Intern Development Director, Urban Hope, Spartanburg, S.C.

“I was born in Quaretaro, Mexico, but my mother brought me to the United States when I was eight months old. I have lived in the Spartanburg, South Carolina for 18 years where I graduated from Spartanburg High School. I'm currently a Sophomore at Converse College, double majoring in Business International and Spanish. I also work at a nonprofit in Spartanburg called, Urban Hope where I organize events for the specific programs, handle social media, and fundraising. Our mission is to connect youth who come from broken and low income families to Christ. When I graduate I hope to work with an organization that creates stability for low income neighborhoods, specifically in Spartanburg.”

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