The Common Good

Pastors, Parents and People of Faith: Game Changers on Gun Violence

Date: January 31, 2013

Pastors, parents, and people of faith -- they can make the most difference in this country. We have seen it just this week on immigration reform. On Monday, in a breathtaking display of bipartisanship not seen for years in our dysfunctional capital city, Democratic and Republican senators unveiled their plan for fixing the horribly broken immigration system -- which their partisan irresponsibility caused. It was quite amazing, really. The very next day, President Barack Obama announced his commitment to and principles for comprehensive immigration reform amid a cheering crowd of young people in a Las Vegas high school gymnasium.

Political courage has suddenly replaced partisan roadblocks and official reticence to take on the controversial issue of immigration. What changed all this was, in my view: the courage of the young undocumented "DREAMers" who risked stepping out and speaking up; a change of heart among many law enforcement officials who find the present system untenable; business leaders who realize the economy now depends on immigrant labor; and, most dramatically, the faith community's conversion to what Jesus said about welcoming the stranger as we would welcome him, and treating immigrants among us -- who are the largest growing group in our faith communities -- as our brothers and sisters in Christ. It's been basic: Gospel and relationships -- but it has changed immigration politics. And as others, including those in the White House and the Congress, will tell you, evangelicals' entry into this debate has been the primary political game changer.