Groups for and against immigration reform continue to butt heads over the recent stance taken by the National Association of Evangelicals, which last month expressed their support for reform that includes more compassionate treatment of undocumented immigrants.
America's Voice, which supports humane comprehensive immigration reform, blasted leaders of NumbersUSA for encouraging its evangelical members to "hammer" their denominations with complaints against the NAE's new immigration resolution.
In a Nov. 2 article in the Congressional Quarterly, Roy Beck, executive director of NumbersUSA, said that "about a third of our members are evangelicals" and "they immediately started hammering their denominations" after being informed of NAE's stance.
The NAE, which is made up of over 40 denominations, claims to represent 30 million American evangelicals. Last month, the group adopted a detailed immigration resolution that called for a pathway for the 12 million undocumented immigrants already in the United States to obtain legal status or citizenship, among other policy changes.
Since taking the stance for comprehensive immigration reform, a number of groups have lashed out at the NAE, including NumbersUSA and the Institute on Religion and Democracy.
Critics argue that the NAE is supporting amnesty for those that break the law and accuse the group of having become more liberal.
The NAE, however, contends that the Bible – though not offering specific guidelines for modern legislation on immigration – does teach that everyone is made in the image of God and deserves to be treated humanely despite their legal status.
Groups supporting reform, including America's Voice, have praised and defended the NAE.
Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, lambasted NumbersUSA and its partner, the Center for Immigration Studies, for claiming to know the Bible better than religious leaders.
The Center for Immigration Studies' executive director, Mark Krikorian, had said that "for religious organizations to get involved in this issue is really not appropriate."
"On matters of faith and pastoral care, I think it is fair to say that religious leaders speak with more authority than anti-immigrant hardliners like Roy Beck and Mark Krikorian," Sharry said in response.
Sharry also noted how Galen Carey, director of government affairs of the NAE, told the Congressional Quarterly that the immigration resolution was "carefully and prayerfully developed with biblical reflections and extensive consultations among evangelical leaders."
In addition to adopting the resolution, NAE leaders have also testified before Congress in support of immigration reform.
The organization also hosted a track on the biblical response to the immigration debate during its biennial Evangelical Leaders Forum last month.