Evangelicals Ramp Up Immigration Ads

Posted April 2, 2013 at 2:43pm

As part of a six-figure campaign to promote an overhaul of immigration laws, a coalition of evangelical Christian groups on Tuesday launched radio ads in Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Texas.

The ads do not mention specific lawmakers but stress that key policymakers’ constituents in those states back a comprehensive rewrite, leaders with the Evangelical Immigration Table, which sponsored the ads, said in a news conference call Tuesday.

“Previously they’ve heard the extreme voices on this,” said David Fleming, senior pastor of the Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston. “We’re trying to reassure them that there’s a strong middle voice in there that is a conservative voice” in favor of an immigration overhaul.

The Evangelical Immigration Table, whose leaders include the National Association of Evangelicals and Bread for the World, is also organizing a “Day of Prayer and Action” in Washington, D.C., on April 17 that will include meetings with members of Congress. The coalition is not lobbying for a specific piece of legislation but backs a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

The latest ads come on the heels of a similar, two-week radio ad buy last month in North Carolina aimed in part at Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., part of the eight-member Senate working group crafting an immigration bill, and Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who chairs the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.

“We are a growing movement of evangelical Christians who are committed to supporting Congress and exerting pressure on our elected officials,” said Noel Castellanos, CEO of the Christian Community Development Association.

“The Bible doesn’t give us a piece of legislation to govern our immigration system,” Castellanos added. “But it does give us a framework and an approach as to how we think as Christians.”

The Evangelical Immigration Table is one of several religious organizations whose leaders have jumped into the immigration fight. On Wednesday, several national clergy members representing Baptist, Catholic and Episcopal dioceses around the country are scheduled to join labor leaders, including AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, in calling on the eight Senate negotiators to reject any immigration plan that includes any reduction in family visas.