The Common Good

Arizona Faith Leaders Speak Out Against Hateful Rhetoric Directed At Immigrants, Call on State Leaders to Address Broken Immigration System

Source: Sojourners
Date: June 16, 2008

June 16th, 2008

Contact: Jason Gedeik, Sojourners, (202) 745-4633, media@sojo.net

Arizona Faith Leaders Speak Out Against Hateful Rhetoric Directed At Immigrants, Call on State Leaders to Address Broken Immigration System

Inflammatory Rhetoric, Unclear Enforcement Laws Tearing Apart Communities

Phoenix, AZ - June 16 - On Monday, June 16, 2008, 21 faith leaders representing 16 churches and religious organizations from across Arizona presented a letter to elected officials highlighting their concern about the increasingly hateful rhetoric surrounding the immigration debate. These leaders, who include some of the most visible and powerful Evangelical leaders in the state, wish to communicate to Arizona state leaders that local communities are still reeling from unaddressed immigration problems. To read the letter and view the list of signatories please visit: www.sojo.net/immigration.

"Arizona has become ground zero for the immigration debate. Local punitive actions have targeted the immigrant population, and the result is a community that is afraid," said Kit Danley, President of Neighborhood Ministries, a nonprofit organization that serves at-risk children and families in inner-city Phoenix. "Followers of Christ have a deep respect for the law, but we also are concerned about compassion, a higher 'law' that requires us to love our neighbor and care for the stranger among us. When members of our congregations are frightened and persecuted, we feel responsible as Christian leaders to speak out for reform in Arizona and across the country."

"What is significant about this group of individuals who have signed this letter is how many people across the city they represent-and the sometimes conservative nature of their communities," said Dr. Gary Kinnaman, founder and former Senior Pastor of Word of Grace church, a 6,000 congregation church in Mesa, AZ. "We have come together from across the religious spectrum to say that regardless of where you stand politically and how you see this issue, there are real people in the crossfire. So we urge civil discourse instead of civil war. We are pushing for compassionate dialogue that brings about Godly, wise and practical solutions to the immigration crisis, and is in the spirit of Saint Paul's command in Colossians 4.6: 'Let your conversation always be full of grace.'"

Leaders from more than a dozen churches and organizations throughout the state, including Fuller Theological Seminary and Desert View Bible Church, have signed on to this letter to local and state level Arizona politicians expressing their growing concern over the treatment of immigrants, negative stereotypes about immigration, and the lack of clear guidelines for state and local enforcement agencies; all things which have increased the level of harmful rhetoric in the debate on how to move forward with immigration reform.

In the letter, Governor Janet Napolitano, Senate President Tim Bee, House Speaker James Weiers, and the Arizona State Legislature are asked to work together with local community leaders and activists to have open, civil conversation regarding the most pressing needs and challenges associated with Arizona and immigration. It also calls on national leaders to re-engage the immigration debate so as to provide leadership for states facing similar problems like Arizona.

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About Christians For Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CCIR):

CCIR represents a coalition of Christian organizations, churches, and leaders, from across the theological and political spectrum, united in support of comprehensive immigration reform. Despite our differences on other issues, we are working together to revive comprehensive immigration reform as soon as possible, because we share a set of common moral and theological principles that compel us to love and care for the stranger among us.