According to an AP news report dated July 16, 2011 (by Jay Reeves, Birmingham, Ala.) churches in Alabama are taking the lead in opposing the state’s new immigration law.
Some here have argued that nobody should or would interpret this law or others like it (e.g., in Oklahoma) as prohibiting giving a ride to a weary illegal immigrant on foot. Here is what Alabama Baptist Convention president pastor Mike Shaw says in the article: “I am concerned about the language concerning giving a ride in an automobile to an illegal immigrant or allowing children of illegal immigrant parents to ride on a church bus to Sunday School, vacation Bible school, or church camp. … Should we ignore people who are injured or have broken down on the side of a busy interstate highway and have small children in sweltering heat with no family or friends to help them?”
My point exactly.
Now before some of you fine lawyers jump in to argue that the actual wording of the laws do not go that far, all I am saying is that this is how some DO interpret the laws already!
My point is…whatever the intentions of the lawmakers who wrote and voted for these laws, they do not go far enough in explicitly allowing humanitarian aid to illegal immigrants such as pastor Shaw mentions. Therefore, the laws will inevitably CAST A CHILL over humanitarian aid. People, however confused, will hesitate to give simple Christian or just humanitarian aid to illegal immigrants in their midst.
The article talks about congregations of many different denominations coming together to protest the law in Alabama. It mentions and quotes one Chriss H. Doss, an attorney and Southern Baptist pastor who is concerned about the law in Alabama.
The Birmingham City Council passed a resolution calling for repeal of the law.
According to the article “Leaders of the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, the Lutheran Church and the Roman Catholic Church all have criticized the law as running counter to biblical teachings about caring for neighbors, helping visitors and showing hospitality to strangers.” The article makes clear that criticism of the law is not limited to one part of the theological spectrum, conservatives as well as liberals are speaking out against it and signing petitions for its repeal.
To me this is a good and hopeful sign. These laws are anti-Christian in their effect if not in their intent. I don’t know how the legislators that wrote them and voted for them can sleep at night knowing, as they must, that the laws will inevitably cause people to hesitate to render crucial aid to helpless and hurting women and children who are not in the U.S. by choice but by necessity.
The article is right to compare this to the 1950s and 1960s civil rights movement and that comparison comes from officials of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. All right thinking Christians (and right thinking human beings!) ought to raise their voices and speak truth to power that these laws are wrong. They must be amended to permit individuals and organizations to offer humanitarian aid to illegal immigrants including rides, temporary shelter, food and clothing.