Did George Soros Enlist Evangelical Leaders on the “Gang of 8″ Immigration Bill (S. 744)?

It’s an odd pairing, I admit. George Soros and Evangelical Christian leaders. There can be little doubt that the Soros agenda and that of most Christians — even most people — is radically different.

So why are some claiming that Soros actually enlisted the help of Evangelical leaders to try to push the immigration bill (S. 744) now before the Senate? Did he?

The answer is yes. And no.

Yes, Soros is funding the the ad campaign for the group claiming to represent 170 Evangelical leaders in support of S. 744. No, most of those leaders likely did not intend to support any specific piece of legislation when they signed a general statement of biblical principles on immigration.

First Things First

The group claiming to represent Evangelical leaders is the Evangelical Immigration Table. The list of members follows:

Heads of the Evangelical Immigration Table

  • Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals
  • Stephan Bauman, President and CEO, World Relief
  • David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World
  • Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association
  • Luis Cortés, President, Esperanza
  • Richard Land, President, Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
  • Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
  • Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition
  • Mathew Staver, Chairman and Founder, Liberty Counsel
  • Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners

But the Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT) doesn’t exist as a legal entity, so it has relied on the National Immigration Forum (NIF) to fund its extensive advertising campaign in favor of immigration reform and of the Senate’s “Gang of 8″ bill (S. 744). From a story at Breitbart.com dated June 2:

More from Breitbart about the announcement of the $250,000 ad campaign and where the money is coming from:

Ms. [Lynne] Hybels was not only featured at a Thursday press conference at which the front group, Evangelical Immigration Table, announced the launch of a $250,000 ad campaign designed to pressure members of Congress to vote in favor of the “Gang of Eight” bill, she provides the narrative voice on one of the national radio advertisements included in the campaign. You can hear her make the case for her understanding of immigration reform here  Note that Ms. Hybels also states the disclaimer at the end of the ad “paid for by the Evangelical Immigration Table. ”

However, Breitbart News reported on Sunday that the Evangelical Immigration Table does not exist as a legal entity.  On Monday, Breitbart News reported that “Evangelicals Mislead on Funding of Immigration Ads.” Though the ads that are now airing in 13 states contain a disclaimer that they are paid for by the Evangelical Immigration Table, however, the ads were actually paid for by the Soros-funded National Immigration Forum.

So What Did the Evangelical Leaders Sign?

That’s a good question. As best can be discerned from the EIT site (as of June 14, 2013), they signed the pretty generic statement of principles that follows:

Evangelical Statement of Principles for Immigration Reform

 

Our national immigration laws have created a moral, economic and political crisis in America. Initiatives to remedy this crisis have led to polarization and name calling in which opponents have misrepresented each other’s positions as open borders and amnesty versus deportations of millions. This false choice has led to an unacceptable political stalemate at the federal level at a tragic human cost.

As evangelical Christian leaders, we call for a bipartisan solution on immigration that:

  • Respects the God-given dignity of every person
  • Protects the unity of the immediate family
  • Respects the rule of law
  • Guarantees secure national borders
  • Ensures fairness to taxpayers
  • Establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship  for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents.

We urge our nation’s leaders to work together with the American  people to pass immigration reform that embodies these key principles and that will make our nation proud.

END OF STATEMENT

On the surface, it’s a pretty innocuous set of simple principles that I think most Christians would agree to. I certainly would. But that’s all it is. A general Biblical framework, not an endorsement of a specific piece of legislation.

You can see the full list of who signed it here.

Likewise, this is how those principles were originally conveyed to President Obama and, in a similar fashion, to Congressional leaders in November, 2012:

Yet this is how the EIT characterized the support of those same Evangelical leaders for the current “Gang of 8″ immigration bill (S. 744) in an open letter to Congress dated May 2, 2013:

A subtle, but significant shift took place between the endorsing of general principles by over 170 Evangelical leaders and their implied blessing of a specific bill that “largely upholds our principles” concocted by the Gang of 8 (S. 744). If I were into conspiracy theories, this bait-and-switch would surely seem to qualify for consideration. A loose confederation of Evangelical leaders that doesn’t even exist on paper being funded by an globalist atheist known for allegedly manipulating entire economies to achieve his open borders agenda. Hmm. Good thing I’m not into conspiracies.

Life Imitating Art

The plot sounds very much like a case of life imitating art. Regular readers may recall my review of the novel The War Against God, by David Kullberg. The plot features a globalist atheist who manipulates evangelicals through crafty means, shoddy theology, and slick advertising  into endorsing his agenda. Ironically, the book was written well before most had ever heard of George Soros. Yet here we are, wondering how so many evangelical leaders seem to be supporting legislation that does not — yet — fulfill the biblical principles they endorsed or the full counsel of the gospel. Short answer? They didn’t. Not many of them anyways. It just looks as if they did. By the time anyone learns differently, the 1,000+ page bill will have been passed so we can find out what’s in it. [Another topic for another day.]

Here’s a link to prominent Evangelicals reading Scripture apparently designed to guilt rank-and-file Evangelicals into shoddy theology through slick advert — no, wait. That sounds like some crazy conspiracy out of a novel.

So Now What

Yesterday, I featured a response to the EIT Soros-funded effort from Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration, an open letter to the US Congress by Kelly Monroe Kullberg.  Frankly, many of these sincere and well-intentioned Evangelical leaders — for most of whom I have the highest of regard — appear to have been the unwitting victims of a classic bait-and-switch.

The implications of this manipulation are just beginning to surface as awareness grows. For example, according to several sources (including this report from the SBC Convention) Richard Land, outgoing  Head of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) for the Southern Baptist Convention (and EIT member), and the incoming Head Russell Moore faced stiff questioning from two prominent voices in the SBC about involvement with George Soros and the “Gang of 8″ bill in particular just this week:

Land and Moore fielded two questions from the floor between their addresses, both praising Land’s advocacy on a host of issues including abortion, marriage and religious liberty but also calling into question their advocacy on immigration reform, which went unmentioned in either official’s prepared address.

In the first question, Alabama Baptist State Convention President the Rev. John Killian noted reports on atheist billionaire George Soros’ funding the National Immigration Forum, of which the Evangelical Immigration Table is a project. Asked if the ERLC would participate in any political project “directly or indirectly funded” by Soros, Land did not directly address Soros’ funding and ERLC participation in the Evangelical Immigration Table. Instead, the outgoing Southern Baptist official responded that the ERLC was following instruction from a 2009 resolution “to pursue immigration policies that would find a pathway toward legal status for those who are here in an undocumented status with appropriate fines and penalties.”

“That is the kind of legislation we have been supporting and will continue to support because we believe that is what the majority of Southern Baptists want us to support,” Land explained, adding that such a policy “is not amnesty.”

Land described amnesty as “what Jimmy Carter gave the draft dodgers who went to Canada instead of serving in Vietnam” allowing them to return without penalty.

In the second question, South Carolina State Senator Lee Bright, who also serves on the ERLC, asked Moore if the ERLC was going to actively support “the 1,000 page immigration bill” under debate in the U.S. Senate.

“We are going to support principles, we are not going to support specific pieces of legislation,” Moore responded. “What we support is a just and compassionate approach to dealing with the millions of people in American society right now who are invisible, seeking a better future for their families. We also want to maintain the rule of law and the security of our borders.”

Interjecting, Land added that the present bill, if it is to pass, “will get a lot stronger on border security because it has to get through the House of Representatives.”

Yet the letter to Congress pictured above and dated May 2, 2013 — with Dr. Land’s name on it, clearly does endorse the “Gang of 8″ bill. And let’s face it, there is only one immigration bill before Congress right now. So the many ads that don’t mention specifics, that only call people to tell their congressperson they want action on immigration, can only mean one thing.

And I’m fine with groups pushing for specific legislation. Just be honest about who signed what. Don’t take advantage of scores of well-meaning Evangelical leaders by publicly manipulating them into seeming to endorse legislation they never intended to endorse. After all, how does one go about removing one’s name from a Biblical framework statement with which he or she very much agrees — without looking like an uncaring idiot?

A daunting task indeed.

An Invitation

To those signers of the original statement of principles who wish to clarify their support — or lack thereof — of a specific legislation, the door is open here at my site at Patheos. I’ll happily consider sharing clarifying statements or even some space to offer your own perspective on the growing controversy — before a bill is passed with your name implied as having been supportive. You can reach me via e-mail at Bill@BillintheBlank.com.

There’s more to be said about the shoddy theology being used by the group’s leaders. For now, may God yet lead the crafting of the final version of the bill now before Congress to truly align with the Biblical framework first proposed by the EIT.

About Bill Blankschaen

Bill Blankschaen is a writer, speaker, author, content and messaging consultant, and general Kingdom catalyst. As the founder of FaithWalkers, he equips Christians to think, live, and lead with abundant faith.

His writing has been featured with Michael Hyatt, Ron Edmondson, Skip Prichard, Jeff Goins, Blueprint for Life, Catalyst Leaders, Faith Village, and many others.

Bill is a blessed husband and the father of six children. He serves as VP of Content & Operations for Polymath Innovations in partnership with Patheos Labs. He is the Junior Scholar of Cultural Theology and Director of Development for the Center for Cultural Leadership. He works with Equip Leadership, Inc. (founded by John C. Maxwell) and ministry leaders around the Pacific Rim to better equip ministry leaders there to lead with passion and greater influence.

  • http://danieldarling.com Daniel Darling

    Bill, a few thoughts. I’m sympathetic with the Immigration Table and signed their statement. I think it’s a bit ad hominem to attack them with the Soros connection. Just because he gave money to this cause, does that make it bad? The evangelical immigration alliance that has formed over the last few years has come about way before Soros gave money for some ads. Furthermore, is this more worrisome than the connections the anti-immigration folks have with the population control movement? Groups like Numbers USA. I just think the Soros thing is being used to scuttle a good piece of legislation.

    Secondly, you affirm that you agree with the principles of immigration reform. I’m curious why you don’t like the bill? You realize that to make the needed reforms you’ll need to enlist both sides of the aisle, right? You don’t expect Democrats to agree to all the things that the most die-hard folks on the right want, right? So you have to compromise.

    Third, I’m not sure why the size of the bill all of a sudden is an article of conservative orthodoxy. Wasn’t the welfare reform passed by Clinton and Gingrich a bill with a lot of pages. With something as complex as immigration, how else will you reform it if there are not many details to spell it out? I’m guessing much legislation is like this–when it affects something we haven’t changed in years.

    Fourth, I think it’s easy to be for immigration reform and then, as a purist, be against legislation. At least Rubio is trying to get something done. We can talk about immigration all we want, but if we never try to advance legislation and get bipartisan support, how will anything ever change?

    I’m not saying you have to support this bill, but why not? Is there a better bill that could conceivable be passed through Congress and signed by a Democratic president? Shouldn’t we expect our leaders to lead?

    • http://www.BillintheBlank.com/ Bill Blankschaen

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a thoughtful comment, Dan. I agree that compromise is needed in this scenario. I’m not remotely expecting anything to emerge resembling what I think would be best. But a compromise would imply that each side actually gets something of value. Thus far, I see nothing verifiable for those who value justice and the protection of our citizens. We’ll see what gets added this next week or so.

      As I said, I would have signed the statement of principles, as well. The situation that now exists with illegal immigrants is a painful one to be sure. But let’s not forget that the people who allowed the situation to occur are the same ones assuring us that they will make sure it doesn’t happen again — later. Soros money doesn’t make the cause bad. Not even covering up the Soros money makes the cause bad. It does raise significant trust and integrity issues. Why say the EIT paid for it when they didn’t. Why not tell who paid for it (NIF)? They didn’t have to say anything at all. It wasn’t a political ad.

      As to the Soros funding, I’m not all that concerned about him. He will go the way of all those who . As Psalm 2 says, “He who sits in the heavens will laugh.” Not that he won’t cause a great deal of harm in that process. That’s the problem with taking money from sources whose agenda is radically different from your own. We always think we can control it until one day we wake up and realize we’ve been duped. I don’t want to see that happen to these leaders — most of whom I greatly respect.

      Perhaps I should ask you — did you sign the statement with the understanding that your were or would be endorsing specific legislation? If not, is it right that the EIT has cast your signature as if you were in support of S. 744? I too applaud Rubio’s efforts to get something passed. But I remember 1986, as I’m sure you do, as well. A path to citizenship is only a short-term bandaid. Without substantive requirements to secure the borders and enforce the laws, we’re just kicking the can down the road — and maybe making things much worse in the process.

      That’s where the 1,000+ bill comes in. That’s a whole lot of words that will have a whole lot of meaning. At least this time we’re getting some chance to read it first.

      Exit question, why do Progressives NOT want the border secured?

      • Jerry Lynch

        Bill, you’re doing it again, relying on gossip and unnuendo to make a case. You drop these negative comments about the Left or Progressives and you want to be taken seriously in this debate as a voice of reason or a Christian? Personal attacks are not part of either a Christian or an intelligent critique.

        But worse, you are adding to the divisiveness pointed out as a major part of the problem by the Evangelicals you noted:

        “Initiatives to remedy this crisis have led to polarization and name calling in which opponents have MISREPRESENTED each other’s positions as open borders and amnesty versus deportations of millions. This false choice has led to an unacceptable political stalemate at the federal level at a tragic human cost.”
        Is this one of the points you disagree with? It must be. Your response to that call to end damaging partisanship is instead add some more fuel with, “Exit question, why do Progressives NOT want the border secured?”

        Did you know that Conservatives are three and a half times more likely to believe in conspiracy theories than Progressives?

        • MProblem

          Jerry, why is a “progressive” supporting a bill that will destroy millions of American middle-class jobs so that a few tech billionaires can grow even richer? What’s “compassionate” about that?

          http://goanimate.com/user/0-VFCDPgmUWU

          Please watch with an open mind. Thanks!

          • Jerry Lynch

            MProblem, sorry, but what are you talking about? I was not commenting on that point. I was commenting on the continued divisiveness, demonstrated in this blog, where nothing can be reasonably discussed any more. There is no need for slurs or innuendo was my point. An Evangelical was directly acting against, as I pointed out, a well-reasoned approach by other Evagelicals on immigration reform, that is, STOP MISREPRESENTING the other side’s stance. Had he said Soros, fine, but Bill included all Progressives as wanting free drug and terroists movement across our borders, as if a Progressive cares nothing for the safety of Americans or our jobs.
            Too often Bil’s pieces seem just foils to attack the “Leftists,” a term usually taken and commonly used in the perjorative sense to mean “Commie” or “Marxist.” I expect Christians to behave like Christians especially when in positions of leadership or representing the faith in print.

          • Jerry Lynch

            I watched your video. Thanks for the information. It would have been good to mention where you got your information. I hope it wasn’t from the American Heritage study.

    • Drewbueno

      It takes a lot of chutzpah to dismiss an argument (the Soros connection) because it is ad hominem and then engage in ad hominem yourself in the same paragraph.

      Forget real (Soros) and fake (Tanton) affiliations for a moment and consider the first chart here: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/06/speedup-americans-working-harder-charts

      As it can be plainly seen, American worker productivity has increased dramatically, but wages have stayed stagnant. For a generation. Why? Well, guess what we’ve been doing in that same time frame? Importing more workers (legal and illegal immigration). We don’t have a labor shortage, and access for the average American to the middle class will continue to falter and require two working parents under the status quo. The Senate bill legalizes nearly everyone here, and also doubles legal immigration and at least doubles temporary guest worker visas.

      If churches think this is a good development, fine. I’m not claiming that immigration is the one and only reason for the decline of the middle class, but I think the evidence and even bare, common sense-thinking make a compelling case that it is a big contributor. Perhaps that’s why Barbara Jordan’s Commission’s research made the recommendations that it did. If you don’t know who or what that is, you should spend a little more time researching immigration policy. Starting with reading their report – a product of years of research which was examined over far more Congressional hearings than we just saw in the Senate this year.

      Those who claim to advocate Scriptural Truth picked the wrong limb to climb out on with this issue. When it breaks, their authority on other issues is going to be compromised. And that is going to be a bad deal for future people who really want to be led into the Kingdom but won’t have anyone credible to turn to.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    Why not?

    They are just as dumb as any other group out there. It’s all politics.

    Why on earth would anybody seal up a hole that their bread and butter is flowing in from?

    They will NOT.

  • MProblem

    Senate Bill 744 will destroy millions of middle-class American families by replacing their breadwinners with cheap foreign tech workers:

    http://goanimate.com/user/0-VFCDPgmUWU

    Why are religious people supporting a bill that will destroy families? Please watch and share!


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