The Common Good

A Republican Pastor for Immigration Reform

My name is Rev. Gary Wiley, pastor of justice and care at Trinity Grace Church in New York City. I am an evangelical Christian. I am also a husband, a father of three, a grandfather of two, and an American descended from immigrants who made their way to these shores over the past 350 years. I am also a card-carrying Republican, as were my parents and grandparents before me.

Until recently my temptation was to hold my faith very close to my chest. Seldom did it move much beyond a concern for personal holiness. A book by Richard Stearns, president of World Vision, pointed out "the hole in my gospel." What I now realize is that I am called not only to love God with my total being but also to seek the very best for my neighbor.

I am reminded that God takes very seriously how we treat the stranger (or immigrant) among us. Jesus said: "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me" (Matthew 25:40).

I was a missionary in Peru for 15 years. My adopted son is Peruvian, as are my son-in-law and my grandchildren. When SB 1070 was signed into law in Arizona I realized that I could go to Arizona and never worry or be bothered, but my family would be in danger of being victims of racial profiling in that state. I personally have never faced discrimination or profiling in this nation that I love, but it is a potential reality for the ones I love dearly.

This is no longer someone else's issue; it is my issue. It has gone from the abstract to the personal. What affects my neighbor, affects me. The urgency of comprehensive immigration reform led me to participate in a non-violent protest in May. I was arrested for the first time in my life and charged with civil disobedience for this cause.

As a political conservative and a card-carrying Republican, I want to remind Republican members of Congress that immigration reform is about protecting family values and doing what's morally right.

Rev. Gary Wiley is the Pastor of Justice and Care at Trinity Grace Church in New York City, New York.

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