ELCA NEWS SERVICE
April 2, 2012
ELCA leaders say immigration reform is a federal matter
CHICAGO (ELCA) - Some congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have growing concerns about the presence of U.S. immigration officials outside churches before and after services, making many parishioners afraid to attend worship for fear that they will be detained or separated from their families.
This concern is expressed in a "Statement of Interest" developed by the ELCA and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, which is part of a brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The brief was filed as voluntary information in the State of Arizona vs. United States case to be heard by the Supreme Court April 25.
"Our church's position, like many other church bodies, is for humane and comprehensive federal immigration reform," said the Rev. H. Julian Gordy, bishop of the ELCA Southeastern Synod, Atlanta, and chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishop's Immigration Ready Bench.
While there isn't much disagreement with the need for reform, the question, Gordy said, is, "How do we go about reform that is consistent with our values? The vast majority of church bodies in the United States have spoken out loudly and clearly on this issue because it is so clearly based on Scripture."
The ELCA has a long-standing commitment to social justice for people living in the United States undocumented. The 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly approved a resolution that calls this church, in partnership with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, to continue to advocate for comprehensive U.S. immigration reform and against "harmful laws" such as Arizona's SB1070, according to the Statement of Interest.
State immigration laws encourage unfair profiling, said Gordy. Local school teachers in Alabama, for example, are required to determine a student's immigration status, prohibiting education, he said.
"The intervention of states in federal immigration policy is of deep concern to Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service," said Eric Sigmon, director for the service's advocacy office.
"We have worked with ELCA members and other Lutheran leaders to push back against these kinds of punitive proposals. We hope that the Supreme Court's decision in this case will offer a clear and convincing message to states that immigration policy belongs into the hands of the federal government and to the U.S. Congress and the administration that it is time to act on immigration reform."
Based in Baltimore, the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is one of the United States' leading agencies in welcoming and advocating for refugees and immigrants. Sigmon said the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approached the ELCA and the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service to participate in the brief.
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with 4.2 million members in 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Members of the ELCA believe that they are freed in Christ to serve and love their neighbor. With their hands, they do God's work of restoring and reconciling communities in Jesus' name throughout the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.
For information contact:
Melissa Ramirez Cooper
773-380-2956 or Melissa.RamirezCooper@ELCA.org
Living Lutheran: http://www.livinglutheran.com