Last month a handful of Religious Right leaders announced support for immigration reform legislation that contained a path to citizenship for those already in the country. This was a distinct break from the traditional right-wing position of demanding immigration reform legislation that consisted entirely of building fences and round-up and deporting immigrants … but even the support from these Religious Right leaders was somewhat tenuous, as they recently announced that any effort to include same-sex partners in the legislation would force them to withdraw their support.
Among those leaders signaling their conditional support for immigration reform was Richard Land of Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission who explains that he supports such measures because he is commanded to do so by the Bible:
“It’s love your neighbor, do unto others,” Land said. “This is a kingdom issue. They are disproportionately suffering because they are forced to remain in the shadows because of their illegal status.”
That may be part of it … and an even larger part of it has a lot to do with the fact that Land sees the political benefits of luring Hispanics into the right-wing movement:
Religious leaders are trying to find middle ground. Most illegal immigrants in the U.S. are Hispanic, a growing demographic with socially conservative views that could be tapped to increase churches’ numbers.
“Do all agree with me? No,” Land said. “But (Hispanics) are hard-wired to be social conservatives unless we drive them away. They are family oriented, religiously oriented and pro-marriage, pro-life … tailor-made to be social conservatives.”