Southern Baptist Convention Calls for a Secure Border and Path for Unauthorized Immigrants to Earn Legal Status

Delegates from the Southern Baptist Convention, the United States’ largest evangelical bloc, overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for immigration reform at their annual meeting this week.

“We desire to see immigration reform include an emphasis on securing our borders and providing a pathway to legal status with appropriate restitutionary measures, maintaining the priority of family unity, resulting in an efficient immigration system that honors the value and dignity of those seeking a better life for themselves and their families,” they resolved.

Citing scripture in their resolution, the Southern Baptist Convention provided a faithful argument based on the word of God that advocates for federal policy that will secure the border and provide non-criminal unauthorized immigrants in the US today with a pathway to earn legal status. Their message was no doubt directed towards the White House, including Mike Pence who was in attendance, and lawmakers in Washington that have the power to legislate immigration reform, but also all brothers and sisters in Christ who are struggling with how to approach a solution to fix our broken immigration system.

The Southern Baptist Convention asked “our governing authorities to prioritize efforts to secure the borders and to hold businesses accountable for hiring practices as they relate to immigration status,” and also “to implement, with the borders secured, a just and compassionate path to legal status, with appropriate restitutionary measures, for those undocumented immigrants already living in our country.” They also noted that their position should not be construed as one calling for amnesty because it asks that those living in the US illegally be required to earn their legal status by meeting certain conditions and paying appropriate restitutions.

The full resolution is stated below:

RESOLUTION 5 - ON IMMIGRATION

WHEREAS, Every man, woman, and child from every language, race, and nation is a special creation of God, made in His own image (Genesis 1:26–27); and

WHEREAS, Longings to protect one’s family from warfare, violence, disease, extreme poverty, and other destitute conditions are universal, driving millions of people to leave their homelands to seek a better life for themselves, their children, and their grandchildren; and

WHEREAS, God commands His people to treat immigrants with the same respect and dignity as those native born (Leviticus 19:33–34; Jeremiah 7:5–7; Ezekiel 47:22; Zechariah 7:9–10); and

WHEREAS, Scripture is clear on the believer’s hospitality towards immigrants, stating that meeting the material needs of “strangers” is tantamount to serving the Lord Jesus Himself (Matthew 25:35–40; Hebrews 13:2); and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists affirm the value of the family, stating in The Baptist Faith and Message that “God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society” (Article XVIII), and Scripture makes clear that parents are uniquely responsible to raise their children “in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4); and

WHEREAS, Untold numbers of men and women seeking to enter the United States legally, desiring to become good citizens of our country, often languish at the borders due to the complexity of our immigration system; and

WHEREAS, In its 2011 resolution “On Immigration and The Gospel,” messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention asked our governing authorities to prioritize efforts to secure the borders and to hold businesses accountable for hiring practices as they relate to immigration status; and

WHEREAS, In that same resolution, Southern Baptist Convention messengers also asked our governing authorities to implement, with the borders secured, a just and compassionate path to legal status, with appropriate restitutionary measures, for those undocumented immigrants already living in our country; and

WHEREAS, At the time, Southern Baptist Convention messengers made clear that the wording of the resolution was not to be construed as support for amnesty for any undocumented immigrant living in violation of the law of the land; and

WHEREAS, After seven years of continued policy gridlock, there have been no substantive changes in the immigration system that would make it more just, humane, efficient, and orderly; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Dallas, Texas, June 12–13, 2018, affirm the value and dignity of immigrants, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, culture, national origin, or legal status; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we desire to see immigration reform include an emphasis on securing our borders and providing a pathway to legal status with appropriate restitutionary measures, maintaining the priority of family unity, resulting in an efficient immigration system that honors the value and dignity of those seeking a better life for themselves and their families; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we declare that any form of nativism, mistreatment, or exploitation is inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage all elected officials, especially those who are members of Southern Baptist churches, to do everything in their power to advocate for a just and equitable immigration system, those in the professional community to seek ways to administer just and compassionate care for the immigrants in their community, and our Southern Baptist entities to provide resources that will equip and empower churches and church members to reach and serve immigrant communities; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage pastors to address immigration issues with their local churches and to exhort their congregations to serve their local immigrant communities; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we affirm that all immigrants are either brothers and sisters in Christ or people whom God loves and has given us an opportunity to reach with the gospel where otherwise they may never have heard. 

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