In a nod to the historic march of over forty years ago, civil rights activists, prominent religious leaders and working Americans are marching from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to protest the state’s harsh voter-suppression laws that disenfranchise low-income and minority voters.
“This is about repeating a part of Alabama’s past that does not bear repeating,” Murguia said of the state’s immigration law. “Voter suppression laws and anti-immigration laws are their way of turning back the clock, but we are not going to allow that to happen.”
Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat but Alabama native who was badly beaten during the attack on marchers in 1965, rallied marchers Sunday, telling them that the struggles for human rights in 1965 and in 2012 are the same.
“Forty-seven years ago I spilled a little blood on that bridge but that was nothing compared to those who died so that we could live in a better America,” Lewis told a large crowd in front of Brown Chapel AME Church, the same church marchers used to stage the 1965 march. “We march today for what we did 47 years ago — for what is fair, what is right and for what is just.”
The faith community’s effort to overturn Alabama’s anti-immigrant HB 56 law continues to pick up steam. Last week, evangelicals met in Alabama to talk about immigration reform that adheres to biblical, human principles, a meeting that has obvious implications for the legislature’s reconsideration of HB 56.
Then, dozens of faith leaders rallied at the state capitol yesterday to pray and lobby for repeal of the law. Rev. Bart Thau, a Methodist pastor who spoke at the event, said:
”We are all children of God, and today I call upon our legislators and I call upon the people of this state who elected them to live up to that higher calling and call for the repeal of a law that brings only hate, fear and separation.”
Faithful Alabamians have sent the legislature a clear message. They oppose the effort to degrade an entire group of people that has had severe economic consequences and troubled the conscience of the nation. They expect their legislators to act in compassionate ways that puts the welfare of the entire state above political calculations and an extreme anti-immigrant ideology.
UPDATE: Small tweak was made to the first sentence for clarity.
Prominent Alabama pastors, bishops and other religious leaders will gather for a prayer service and press conference on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 1:00 p.m. at the Alabama Statehouse to pray for and urge repeal of the anti-immigrant law HB-56. The faith community in Alabama is continually speaking out and mobilizing advocacy efforts to repeal HB-56, which makes it a crime for churches, charities and even neighbors to offer help to anyone who is not a legal resident.
Participants in the prayer service and press conference will sign an oversized copy of a letter to state legislators urging them to repeal the law because it “not only unfairly targets a very vulnerable segment of our society, but also is contrary to our faith teachings to welcome the stranger in our midst and to love our neighbor regardless of race, country of origin, or immigration status.” After the event, faith leaders will meet with state legislators to convey their concerns about HB-56 and request that it be repealed.
WHAT: Prayer event and press conference with faith leaders speaking out against HB-56 and urging its repeal
WHO: Prominent Alabama faith leaders and people of faith, including Rev. James Evans, Pastor of Auburn First Baptist Church, Auburn, AL Bishop James Levert Davis, Servant Prelate of the 9th Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church
WHEN: Tuesday, February 28 at 1 p.m. CST
WHERE: Alabama Statehouse, 11 South Union Street, Montgomery, AL 36131
Religious leaders will pray, share stories from their churches, and stand up against legislation that criminalizes people of faith from following their churches’ teaching to act as the Good Samaritan. The law has created a climate of fear and suspicion that divides Alabama’s churches and communities and has been a disaster for Alabama’s economy and agriculture.
Faith leaders also joined a recent “One Heart, One Alabama” rally and lobby day on February 14 at the Statehouse, urging legislators to repeal HB-56 because of its devastating shortcomings and impact on Alabama’s economy, business climate and communities.
Supporters of Alabama’s harsh anti-immigrant law are looking increasingly isolated and extreme. Thousands of Alabamians, including dozens of faith leaders, have rallied in support of repealing the legislation. A Republican Party leader admitted Jesus likely wouldn’t have voted for the law and a report has shown the law’s severe economic consequences.
Yesterday, evangelical leaders gathered in Birmingham at the G92 South Immigration Conference to talk about this issue, emphasizing biblical teachings around immigration and hospitality. The conference’s name itself “is derived from the 92 references in the Old Testament to “ger,” Hebrew for stranger or immigrant.”
Rev. Gabriel Salguero, a pastor and president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition
spoke at the event, saying:
Because I’m a Christian I believe in comprehensive, common-sense, humane immigration policy…Hospitality is not at the margins of scripture. Jesus wasn’t kidding around when he said, ‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me.’
The implications of Salguero’s remarks are clear. The inhumane, harsh, and inhospitable nature of HB 56 contradicts one of the core messages of the Gospel.
Lawmakers are taking notice of these efforts too. Here’s State Representative Joe Hubbard talking about the importance of faith leaders’ continued advocacy on this issue:
The elected officials in Alabama need to have the courage of their convictions and fix the unnecessary crisis they’ve created.
Don’t miss this great profile by Mary E. Hunt at Religion Dispatches of Bishop Minerva Carcaño, Bishop of the Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church and a national leader immigration advocacy.
My colleagues in the field of church-related social justice call her a rock star, an ally who brings the weight of her office to their lobbying efforts against some of the most conservative public officials.
Minerva’s episcopal position lends credibility to her progressive insistence that each child be cared for regardless of legal status. Whether preaching in one of her churches or discussing specific cases with Lou Dobbs, she insists that immigration is not about “partisan politics” but of “lifting up a matter of conscience for this country, a moral and ethical issue. It is from that perspective that the United Methodist Church speaks.”
Here’s Bishop Carcaño showing why she’s such an impressive leader in an appearance on Lou Dobbs in 2006: