Pod people: Who’s evolving on immigration?

President Obama announced a shift on on Friday for how the government will handle immigrants who were brought to the United States by their parents, a decision setting off a chain of reactions from outrage to elation to apathy.

Religious leaders were among many who reacted to the announcement, including the Southern Baptist Convention’s policy person Richard Land. Here was one religion reporter’s reaction:

Bob: Why are people surprised that Richard Land likes Obama’s immigration move?

Me: @bobsmietana can you flesh that out?

Bob: @spulliam land has been outspoken on immigration reform with a path for citizenship. Seen some stories that see this as something new

As The Tennessean‘s Bob Smietana points out, Land is not suddenly evolving with the President on immigration. That said, more and more evangelicals are emerging in favor of some sort of immigration reform, such as Focus on the Family’s president Jim Daly.

It was interesting to see those who didn’t cover an immigration statement made earlier in the week by evangelicals jump on religious reaction to Friday’s announcement, as though once Obama grants attention to the issue, it becomes news.

Granted, it was a busy week for religion news with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting and more contraceptive mandate news. Those who did cover immigration appeared to be political reporters seemed to take on the issue this week, those who might not pick up on implications for religious leaders, whether someone like Land would be a new supporter or not.

In an an overall decent piece from the New York Times, the headline, “Christians On Right Urge Reform On Migrants” was a little confusion. The term “Christian right,” which is kind of a dead term anyway, couldn’t be applied to everyone involved in the statement.

In print, you have much less room to flesh out the headline, but on the Internet, you have much more room to use clearer descriptions. Instead of making generalizations like “Christian right” or a phrase like “harsh rhetoric,” reporters could use quotes to illustrate the point they’re trying to make.

Remember how much we heard about former President George W. Bush’s faith-based initiatives and work in Africa? Since Obama’s appearance, it almost seems as though Bush fell off the map. We don’t see him in the news very often, so it was interesting to see the Dallas Morning News send a reporter to Africa to track down the impact his policies have made.

Is it the media’s fault or Bush’s fault that he isn’t covered as much as Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton? It’s hard to say, since he isn’t very available to the press. During his time in office, at least, reporters were constantly telling us about Bush’s faith. It seems like there’s little interest about Bush’s possible faith motivation for his continual interest in Africa.

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  • http://ecben.wordpress.com Will

    Part of the problem is that advocates of ALL positions call theirs “immigration reform”.

    “When Johnson called patriotism ‘the last refuge of a scoundrel’, he overlooked the possibilities of the word ‘reform’.”

  • John M.

    It’s my impression that Bush is keeping a much lower profile than Clinton or Carter, though I seem to recall Clinton being pretty low-profile for a few years after he left office. I’m not old enough to compare this with Carter’s early years of being an ex-president.

    -John