When the New York Times starts praising religious activists, you know there's a deeper agenda at work. National religion reporter Michael Paulson, whose reporting is preoccupied with gay marriage and the church, praised denominations of all stripes that lined up on the Times' side of an issue -- granting amnesty to the streams of unaccompanied children crossing the U.S. border illegally, while fighting conservative "anger," outrage," and "hate talk."
Paulson let his religious representatives attack opponents as "un-American" (a no-no when done by conservatives to liberals) and take unopposed shots at conservative radio star Rush Limbaugh in his Thursday story, "U.S. Religious Leaders Embrace Cause of Children Streaming Across Border."
After protesters shouting “Go home” turned back busloads of immigrant mothers and children in Murrieta, Calif., a furious Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, the Roman Catholic archbishop of New York, sat down at his notepad and drafted a blog post detailing his shame at the episode, writing, “It was un-American; it was unbiblical; it was inhumane.”
When the governor of Iowa, Terry E. Branstad, said he did not want the migrants in his state, declaring, “We can’t accept every child in the world who has problems,” clergy members in Des Moines held a prayer vigil at a United Methodist Church to demonstrate their desire to make room for the refugees.
Though the word "amnesty" was not used, the religious groups don't seem to advocate returning the border-crossing minors to their home countries anytime soon.
The United States’ response to the arrival of tens of thousands of migrant children, many of them fleeing violence and exploitation in Central America, has been symbolized by an angry pushback from citizens and local officials who have channeled their outrage over illegal immigration into opposition to proposed shelter sites. But around the nation, an array of religious leaders are trying to mobilize support for the children, saying the nation can and should welcome them.
Besides Jewish supporters, Paulson found broad support among the religious for amnesty, from "Unitarian Universalists and Quakers to evangelical Protestants... Catholic bishops, who have long allied with Republican politicians against abortion and same-sex marriage, and leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, whose adherents tend to lean right."
Paulson quoted Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention: "These children are made in the image of God, and we ought to respond to them with compassion, not with fear."
Funny how such rhetoric about "children made in the image of God" never gets the Times nod of approval when it comes to Christian opposition to abortion.
Various religious groups are trying to assist the migrants directly by offering food, shelter and legal services. The Episcopal Church is providing hygiene and nutrition packets; the United Methodist Church is offering showers and clothing; the United Church of Christ has started a nationwide fund-raising appeal. Catholic Charities U.S.A. has opened seven “welcome centers” along the border.
Attitudes among evangelicals are changing, particularly at the leadership level, according to the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
“I remember when my fellow evangelicals said, ‘Deport them all, they’re here illegally, end of story,’ but the leadership now supports immigration reform,” Mr. Rodriguez said. “There’s still angst in the pews, but if they listen more to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John than to Rush Limbaugh, they’ll act with compassion towards these children.”
The Rev. Larry Snyder, the president of Catholic Charities U.S.A., said the charitable work had not been welcomed in every community.
“Some city authorities are intimidated by the hate talk that you hear, and I even talk to some pastors who say they have to be careful because their parishioners aren’t behind us,” Father Snyder said. “If Jesus said anything, it was that your neighbor is everyone. I wish people would embrace that a little more than they do.”
Even Bible-thumping is now acceptable at the Times, as long as it's done for a left-wing cause.
Some political leaders have cited religious or moral arguments in offering support for the migrants. On Friday, Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts tearfully cited the Bible and declared, “I don’t know what good there is in faith if we can’t, and won’t, turn to it in moments of human need,” as he suggested that migrant children could be temporarily housed at military bases in his state.