The Common Good

The Theology of Evangelical Action on Immigration Reform

This afternoon’s speakers are Lisa Sharon Harper and Matthew Soerens. Lisa is the director of mobilising at Sojourners, an evangelical social justice organisation. She’s also co-author of Left Right & Christ: Evangelical Faith in Politics. Matthew is the US church training specialist for World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals. He’s co-author of Welcoming The Stranger, which sets out an evangelical social justice case for US immigration reform, and co-creator of undocumented.tv, an evangelical immigration media activism campaign.

Lisa starts out by mentioning that the Hebrew word for immigrant, “ger,” is mentioned 92 times in the Old Testament. That fact has inspired the G92 movement, which mobilises Christian college students around immiration reform in the United States. Matt and Lisa are also part of the Evangelical Immigration Table, which brings together organisations like the National Evangelicals Association, the Southern Baptist Convention, World Vision, Bread For the World, Sojourners, and many others, including the National Latino Evangelical Coalition. The Evangelical Immigration Table recently launched a new immigration reform initiative. People across the evangelical world came together to say, “just immigration reform this matters to us.”

Lisa explains why immigration matters to evangelicals. Starting with Genesis 1, she sets out a vision for the relationship between Christianity and politics. In the beginning, God called the world a good thing. The relationships among people and the relationship between humanity and its governing systems were “forcefully good.” Furthermore, humans were made in the image of God. We were created to be “markers of where God rules,” she says. Humans are to be stewards of the world we live in, and the fall of humanity in Genesis shattered the relationship between systems and the people they govern. Humans are made in the image of God. As a result, the way humans rule should follow the manner of God’s rule. That’s why we Christians should care about issues like immigration, Lisa says.