By Bob Smietana – LifeWay Research
With political tensions over immigration rapidly rising, recent research offers an update on what Protestant pastors think about the issue.
White House officials have suggested that President Barack Obama may take executive action to pass immigration reform as early as this week, blaming House Republicans for gridlock on pending legislation already passed by the Senate. The GOP now holds a majority in both congressional chambers, and House speaker John Boehner has made it clear that the party has no intention to pass a bill that Obama could sign in the next legislative session.
According to a survey released today by LifeWay Research, the nation’s Protestant senior pastors want the U.S. government to mix justice with mercy when it comes to immigration reform.
Most say it’s the government’s job to stop people from entering the country illegally. They also support reform that includes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country. And they believe Christians should help immigrants, no matter what their legal status.
Those are among the findings of a new survey of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors queried prior to the mid-term elections.
Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research, said pastors don’t approve of illegal immigration. But they want to help illegal immigrants make things right.
“This is one of many cases in which Christians can look at those around them and say, ‘I don’t agree with what got you to this place in life, but I will love you while you are here,’” he said.
Nearly 6 in 10 of Protestant senior pastors (58 percent) agree with the statement: “I am in favor of immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for those who are currently in the country illegally.” About a third (34 percent) disagree. Seven percent are not sure.
Most African-American pastors (80 percent) agree, as do a majority of white pastors (59 percent). Two-thirds (68 percent) of mainline pastors and more than half (54 percent) of evangelical pastors also favor a path to citizenship.
Pastors of mid-sized churches are more likely to agree than those from small churches. Two-thirds (66 percent) of pastors of churches with between 100 and 249 attenders agree. About half (54 percent) of pastors with less than 50 people in their congregation agree.
Two-thirds (63 percent) of pastors under age 45 favor a pathway, as do a little over half (55 percent) of those ages 45-54.
LifeWay Research also found pastors want to help their immigrant neighbors, no matter what their legal status.
About half (47 percent) of Protestant senior pastors say their church currently helps immigrants.
And most (79 percent) agree with the statement: “Christians have a responsibility to assist immigrants, even if they are in the country illegally.” One in 6 (17 percent) disagree.
More than three quarters of evangelical pastors (77 percent) and most mainline pastors (86 percent) agree. Most pastors under 45 (83 percent) and those in churches with 100 or more attenders (82 percent) agree. http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2014/november/how-1000-protestant-pastors-feel-immigration-reform-lifeway.html?paging=off