Alabama’s Pro-Illegal Immigration Litigating Bishops

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It is true that Christians, through The Church, see themselves as the universal Body of Christ, unified through all eternity by common faith, transcending all cultures and nations.   But the vocation and definition of The Church are quite different from the responsibilities of civil governments, which have duties towards particular people, and which must “exclude” some to defend others.

Only in Alabama have church prelates gone to court to stop enforcement of immigration law.  The New York Times noted the politics here are “unusual, with those opposed to the law, mostly coming from the left, arguing that the statute falls short of biblical principles, and the law’s supporters, mostly from the right, arguing that secular laws and biblical law cannot always run on the same track.”

Alabama’s new law, which the Times described as “popular,” allows police to ask about immigration status during traffic violations.  It also prohibits transporting, harboring, making contracts with, or renting property to illegals.  Anxious for a pretext to oppose, the litigating church officials and their allies protest that the law will criminalize their ministry of offering meals, counseling or rides to all.  As the Times fairly noted, the law’s defenders say it aims at human traffickers and employers, not at church soup kitchens, or Sunday school teachers driving to the doctor’s office.  The church litigators disingenuously claim they must now choose between God and Caesar. Other clerics of course cite Martin Luther King.

They naturally want to claim the moral drama of 1960’s era civil rights advocates.   But the modern clerics are not likely targets of police dogs or fire hoses.  “I do not think that any church or any clergyman is subject to prosecution for doing their Christian mission,” explained one state legislator defending the new law to the Times. Transporting illegals only becomes illegal if “in furtherance of [their] unlawful presence.”   And “harboring” an illegal violates the new law only when deliberating shielding from detection.   Do the litigating bishops expect their churches to go beyond ministry and to actively help illegals evade the law?   Aren’t Christians supposed to comply with civil law unless it promotes an egregious evil?

“Alabama needs to sit this one out,” warned litigating United Methodist Bishop William Willimon of Birmingham.   “The civil rights memorial in Birmingham is kind of a reminder that we’ve got to watch this sort of thing,” he told The New York Times. Should all states, and the federal government, “sit out” any enforcement of immigration law?  The Religious Left and its allies insist so.

America welcomes about 1 million new legal immigrants to the U.S. ever year in what is the world’s most generous immigration policy.  But even tripling or quadrupling this number would not appease most Religious Left opponents, who oppose any national sovereignty for the U.S.    The New York Times, more equitable than the sometimes shrill prelates it quoted, reported that Alabama church members seem to endorse what the litigating bishops reject.   They must intuit the oddity of bishops suing the government for performing its vocation to defend and protect.

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  • Ugly American

    As much as they might like it to be, this has nothing to do with American Civil Rights. This about people who came into the country without permission and do their best to conceal themselves from being discovered.
    None of the bishops really have a dog in this fight. We can't afford to give benefits to every American, much less everyone who can manage to set boot on our shores.
    Many of these "poor people" paid smugglers several thousand dollars to bring them here and many have done it multiple times. If they can get that much money together in their own country, they would be better off staying there because that is more disposable income than most Americans can put together for even a trip to try to make money.

    • winoceros

      Even if the country's economy was overflowing, how would that make it more right? It isn't a question of "afford." It's a question of obeying the law of the land.


    the only reason the bishops want the ileagle invaders here is that the ileagle invaders young boys will be a real treat for all the horny priests and the fact that they fear police is even better this is like going to heaven for the the Bishop's

    • winoceros

      I'm so sorry for your ruined childhood. I hope the therapy helps.

  • davarino

    Pretty soon we will have to pay for the transportation of illegals who live over seas. It is unfair for Mexicans to be able to just walk over here, but those in Africa have to buy a plane ticket.

    Thanks "holy" men of God. Why dont you take your church's wealth and give it to the poor in those countries and leave ours alone. Better yet, why dont you just move your religious sects to those poor countries so you can better help them there. Why should these people be expected to travel here, lazy prelates

  • StephenD

    “The solidarity we share through Christ eliminates the boundaries and barriers which exclude and isolate.”
    I would remind these “Bishops” that their belief system exhorts them to “Love their Neighbor.” I would ask how this is possible if “Neighbor” is done away with. By definition a neighbor is one that lives near or BORDERS you.
    I would also remind them that their belief system tells them to obey the laws of the land. Should they want to change those laws, there are ways to do that. Until then, they are ACTING AGAINST their own religion and to my mind worthy of being ignored.

    • Questions

      What the bishops are saying, quite simply, is that nations don't matter. That Christ transcends any semblence of national identity and the will to defend it. Perhaps Christianity needs, as they say in movies, a "reboot" — like "Star Trek."

    • winoceros

      The "solidarity" you share through Christ will be exhibited in heaven and in your idea of Christian brotherhood, but that does not include worldly things, like our taxes and services and land and residency.

      You are dead on. They have forsaken their Christianity for feelgoodism.

  • Norma

    We have an immigration policy (opportunity) in place!! Come on Mr. Bishops…stop with the pontificating.
    I am an Episcopalian. My church is becoming a new form of politics. Churches, of all denominations, gather the righteous AND the "self-righteous".

  • Charles Teachout

    WHO are the Catholic Alabama bishops? Are they recent appointees of the Holy Father?Are there any dissenters (non-litigants) among the Alabama Catholic Bishops? If there are, are these men recent appointees? These are important questions to observe when reporting on this kind of action. It goes without saying that the "Mainstream" Protestant bishops will join in any and all Leftist movements (Southern Baptists excluded), and it goes without saying that a majority of the long-time sitting American Catholic Bishops will join these Leftist litigants as a matter of reflex, but there are an increasing number of recently appointed American Catholic Bishops who will NOT join them. I wonder if this pattern is as true in Alabama as it is in the United States Catholic Church in general.

    • winoceros

      Free Methodists excluded as well. Outrageous.

  • winoceros

    UnChristlike. Render unto Caesar. They do no service to their neighbors by inviting in charity cases. Do you outreach as missionaries, like decent Christians, either in your own communities or by traveling, but you are not the "decider" of immigration policy.

    Their butts are as liable as the rest of us for aiding and abetting. I will make the exception that if someone comes to them and confesses that they sheltered an illegal in a safe house and moved them along, that they should advise that they should report themselves but would be allowed to keep the seal of the confessional. That is fair, and no further harm to society was done.

  • robinked

    i'm a christian too, but this is the LAW of the land!!!–illegals get here by breaking the law, then being here illegally tempts them to BREAK MORE LAWS (stolen ssi #'s etc.), these so called men of the cloth are not thinking AND they evidently don't care about they're true flock, US, since we continue to suffer at the hands of these LAWBREAKERS!!! come on they broke the law to get here, they have NO RIGHTS!!!__i'm tired of footing the bill for ALL of them & being OVERRUN by them!!-

  • Rick

    If I read and understood this correctly then my feelings/thoughts become: If a church is going to put it's nose into government policies and try to affect political decisions through whatever pressure they can muster then maybe this whole tax exempt status for religious organizations needs to be revisited.

  • Paul Cajka

    I'm a United Methodist and I'm not united with Bishop Willimon. He's just off on the Religious Left with people influenced by the United Church of Christ. They should call the UCC the United Church of Comrades. If no one else will, I will. All four of these bishops need to stop breaking US law.

  • Brittanicus

    Figures from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services

    Immigration is having a bigger impact than ever on the American economy, but the current presidential candidates seem reluctant to speak up. June figures from the Department of Public Social Services in California report $54 million in welfare benefits were issued to illegal alien parents of their native-born children in Los Angeles County alone. This was announced by County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich. The $54 million consists of $22 million in CalWORKs (welfare) and $32 million in Food Stamps — an increase of $3 million from June 2010. This represents 22% of all CalWORKs and Food Stamp issuances in the County. The projected annual cost has jumped to $625 million.

    “With the $550 million for public safety and nearly $500 million for health care, the total cost for illegal immigrants to County taxpayers exceeds $1.6 billion dollars a year,” said Antonovich. “These costs do not include the hundreds of millions of dollars for education.”


    Should we expect Perry, a Republican who once served in the Texas legislature, to make the same admission about his pro illegal immigration stance? After all, he gave illegal aliens discounted in-state tuition at public colleges and universities in Texas then traveled to Mexico to brag about it. He also slammed Arizona for passing a tough immigration control law, believes the southern border fence is unnecessary and opposes the E-Verify federal verification program that prevents illegal immigrants from landing state jobs. E-Verify the job eliminator for illegal aliens and the new deterrent is equally needed to start clipping the wings of the open border zealots, the religious entities, unions and the unhappy business leaders who determined to keep cheap labor pouring into the U.S.
    Perhaps Americans shouldn’t hold their breath for an apology on the open borders issue since it’s likely that Rick Perry is betting it will earn Latino votes.

    •The threat of a Congressional amnesty may be off the table for now, but millions of illegal immigrants are still taking American jobs.
    •Congress continues to import an additional 75,000 foreign workers every month at a time when American workers are facing massive unemployment and collapsing wages.
    •The immigration crisis is as severe as ever, and elected officials from both parties have refused to do anything to address the role mass immigration plays in our national jobs crisis.
    •Americans need a president who will take our immigration crisis seriously.

    Right now, the political parties and presidential candidates are staking out their positions on immigration. Together, we can influence the candidates to improve their immigration positions and publicly commit to defending the American worker. See the immigration grade scores of contenders in the Presidential race at NumbersUSA. Learn who is involved in corruption and collusion of all lawmakers at Judicial Watch.

    •Will the Republicans reject another open-borders candidate?
    •Will President Obama move to a more reasonable position as he strives for re-election?
    •Can candidates and prospective candidates like Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney and Herman Cain recognize the urgency voters have about this issue? Michele Bachmann has openly discussed this ominous issue that is erupting from every newspaper and media every day. Only—and only the TEA PARTY are willing to talk about Illegal Immigration. So this is the time to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak and learn who is ready to fight for every American and not try to pacify illegal aliens, with the possibility of Immigration Reform- we all know as mass amnesty. No TEA PARTY leader will enact any law that rescinds the Reagan 1986 Immigration Control and reform Act. All cities branded as a Sanctuary for Illegal aliens, will either conform to the law, or lose federal funding.

    Politicians, who won’t recognize the urgency of the immigration issue, will be removed.


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    • Bill

      I am 59 years old ben in church all my life have given as high as 13,000.00 in one month 6 months ago i quit going and will never put anoher foot in one agin let the illegals support them also God says obey the law of the land.

  • Brittanicus

    What are the two most critical issues in the oncoming presidential elections? Down to the wire it is the economy and jobs. Therefore, we must find jobs, lots of jobs and illegal immigrants in the lower incomes who have acquired jobs must be removed and returned to less fortunate legal workers in our country. Are you aware that illegal immigration has been encouraged very successfully by the unconscionable business organizations such as the US Chamber of Commerce; backed up by certain unconcerned Republicans and the disingenuous Democrats, propelled by the left-wing influence? Records on immigration numbers have been systematically sanitized and kept out of the main spotlight. Liberal leaning news media have massaged numbers, statistics for years, including previous administrations. Any blogger or outside comment author is quickly banned from passing on sources or statistics.

    Currently the main headline has been quickly flows through the national press, which illegal aliens are leaving and returning to their own country? What they are not selling you, is that over 20 million illegal aliens have settled here; and this may be uncounted. Millions live in houses of legal immigrants, hidden away from authorities, spending taxpayer’s money; Using friends ID or stolen documents to take American jobs. Millions could be shielded by unions, working in construction, hotels and motels or on a grand scale in Sen. Harry Reid’s entertainment Mecca of Nevada. The Pew Research Center says there are 8 million illegal immigrants are working and who have stolen jobs from American workers, through the collusion of business owners and many radical open border groups.

    These groups are under the unfounded supposition that we need more and more workers, legal or illegal? This is not saying we shouldn't give expeditious visas to engineers and scientists and those who have high professional achievement. Highly skilled individuals, who have shown their skilled abilities, will never drop to the poverty line as they will always have high paying jobs. On the negative side, people who are sliding past the border line, or the other 40 percent who lie at entry ports at airlines and shipping terminals are committed to staying until caught. The majority of economic illegal aliens are well versed in welfare laws and the use of false ID. These economic nationals have a better idea of each States entitlement system, to be able to play to their advantage then law-abiding Americans.

    California is a very Liberal state that is under the impression that American taxpayers should support the illegal immigration occupation of that State. All Border States are under a giant pressure from especially illegal pregnant mothers, who are determined to bring their unborn child here so they can get free hospitalization; then after conceiving the 300.000 children annually born to illegal aliens, in receipt of instant citizenship can collect cash payments and a whole bunch of handouts, that US citizens and residents never see?

  • Maggie

    Thanks to all the above for great posts. 1) "Thou shalt not steal" applies here as foreigners steal from taxpayers and especially from our children's education. In CA, K-12 schools went from best to 48th in a few decades and are now over half Latino. 2) The good Samaritan in the Bible did not impose his charitable costs on others, but reimbursed the innkeeper. 3) As the clergy condone "stealing" and a population growth that will overwhelm our environment, the faithful must withdraw financial support and the government apply taxes . More on California's demise:

    • Trilby

      I'm grateful for the down-to-earth wisdom here and at As a Lutheran, I'm trying to deal with the same pseudo-Christian "chancel-prancing" that Mark Tooley describes in other denominations. Even if our posturing bishops understand little else, they all know that the easiest, cheapest charity is the kind one's neighbors are forced to pay for.

  • george upton

    Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's and stick to your knitting