Sam Rodriguez: How Do You Like Your Anti-Immigrant President Now?
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Mar 18, 2017 at 01:25:59 PM EST
Since President Donald Trump's immigration policy gave law enforcement officials unprecedented power to aggressively target immigrants in the country illegally, the nation's immigrant communities have been living in fear, from the threat of arrest, detention and deportation.

Department of Homeland Security documents "revealed the broad scope of the president's ambitions: to publicize crimes by undocumented immigrants; strip such immigrants of privacy protections; enlist local police officers as enforcers; erect new detention facilities; discourage asylum seekers; and, ultimately, speed up deportations," The New York Times' Michael D. Shear and Ron Nixon reported late last month.

"The message is: The immigration law is back in business," said a gleeful Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which supports restricted immigration. "That violating immigration law is no longer a secondary offense."

One area where enhanced law enforcement appears to be having a profound effect is on church attendance. In a piece titled "Trump's Policies Are Keeping Hispanics Away from Church," Christianity Today's Kate Shellnutt reported that "America's Hispanic churches [are] feel[ing] the impact of President Donald Trump's immigration initiatives in their pews each week."

Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), one of President Donald Trump's evangelical advisers - serving on his Evangelical executive advisory board -- and who read from the Beatitudes during Trump's inauguration, recently pointed out that "The anxiety in Christian conservative, evangelical churches has grown exponentially, because many of our worshipers, many of the families we serve, many of the families in our pews, may very well lack the appropriate documentation, even though we have a `don't ask don't tell' policy."

Rodriguez, the lead pastor of the Sacramento, California-based New Season Christian Worship Center, where a "safe haven" project for undocumented immigrants has been put in place, "affirmed that he is in favor of Trump's call to stop illegal immigration and not offer amnesty to illegal immigrants. He is also in favor of Trump's plan to protect `the sovereignty of our nation' by building a wall, as long as he builds `a bridge towards Hispanics and Latinos in America.' Rodriguez also said he affirms, `on steroids,' Trump's commitment to deporting illegal immigrants who engage in nefarious activities," The Christian Post recently reported.

"In the past few weeks, yes, the majority of people that were deported are hardened criminals and we are grateful for that. But there was a percentage, a number of great God-fearing, hard-working people who were not criminals who don't even have a traffic violation that were deported," Rodriguez told CP. "These are egregious stories."

"These new guidelines create anxiety and concerns about the future of the members of our church and their families," the Hispanic Baptist Pastors Alliance (HBPA), a coalition of Hispanic Southern Baptist pastors, recently stated.  

"Pastorear en Tiempos de Trump es más difícil y duro de lo que imaginé. Orando, sirviendo, y trabajando por nuestras familias," Felix Cabrera, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Central in Oklahoma City and a leader of the HBPA, recently tweeted. ("Pastoring in the time of Trump is more difficult and harder than I could have imagined. Praying, serving, and working for our families.")

Shellnutt pointed out that "Half of all Latino Christians living in the United States are worried that either they or someone close to them will be deported, the Pew Research Center found. This includes 1 in 3 of those born in the US (including Puerto Rico)."

According to the Pew Research Center data, more than 4 in 10 Latino Christians are worried that they and/or family members will be caught up in random immigration raids. In an earlier piece for Christianity Today, Shellnutt reported that "Hispanic Catholics (54%) and Protestants (47%) were more likely than the unaffiliated (38%) to say they worry `a lot' or `some' about the threat of deportation, Pew's survey of Hispanic adults living in the US found. One in four Protestants worry a lot (25%), while Catholics are significantly most likely to worry a lot (37%)."

One side affect of intensified immigration enforcement is that it has forced ministers and church workers to rethink their aid to immigrant communities.  According to Shellnutt, "Some pastors and churches may be scared or confused over whether serving undocumented immigrants puts them on the wrong side of the law. Similar hesitancies came up when Alabama criminalized certain activities like offering rides to people in the country illegally.
`We're now facing new religious liberty concerns related to our churches' ability to minister to immigrants,' wrote Alabama pastor Alan Cross and NHCLC executive committee member Gus Reyes in an op-ed for Time."  

Groups providing rides to immigrants and other services may be running afoul of the law. Trump's policies "not only target immigrants themselves, each of whom we believe is made in the image of God with inherent dignity regardless of their legal status, but also encroach upon religious institutions' ability to minister," wrote Cross and Reyes wrote.

Over the past several years, Samuel Rodriguez has pointed out numerous times that immigrants presented an enormous opportunity for evangelicals to expand their outreach in the US. And, Rodriguez opined, drawing immigrants and Hispanics to evangelical churches, gave Republicans an opportunity to increase Hispanic electoral support for conservatives.

According to People for the American Way's Right Wing Watch, Rodriguez, a regular speaker at Religious Right gatherings, "has fostered a media image as a nonpartisan moderate while simultaneously urging Hispanic voters to support right-wing candidates and Religious Right causes, and even filming a video promoting the Republican Party's faith outreach project. In May, for example, he said it would be `morally reprehensible' for Christians to vote for a candidate who supports Planned Parenthood, saying they would need to repent."




Display:
has certainly proved that he is the better con man.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sat Mar 18, 2017 at 07:51:52 PM EST

Rev Rodriguez always complains about the policies of the white nationalists he breaks bread with, but never leaves. When ACA was being legislated, Rodriguez did not like that undocumented immigrants would be excluded from health care. But, he stuck with his pals and opposed ACA. Rodriguez always puts his hatred of the LGBTQ and reproductive rights above all else. He is part of the New Apostolic Reformation and he values that membership more than his ethnicity or protecting his ethnic group. Quite frankly, I doubt he has anywhere near the members he claims he pastors or is responsible for. They need him and a few others to hide what is, in reality, white Christian supremacy.

by James Estrada Scaminaci on Sun Mar 19, 2017 at 12:12:02 PM EST
I remember a big sermon about "Loving things and using people" in an Assemblies of God (dominionist pre-NAR) church back in the late 70s, when I was in that cult.  The fact was, the very jackass doing the preaching was using people - and loving his nice fancy home and perks of being a pastor.  That was a common attitude - they tried to shoehorn you into stereotypes and if you didn't fit, smash you into them - but don't do ANYTHING that might put their cherished Position or stereotype in question.

If you're minority, they especially like to use you - parade you around as signs of their "acceptance" - but if you demand to be more than tokens or trophies (been there, done that, have the T-shirt - from a putatively liberal-leaning Episcopal church), then you learn just how little valued you are.  (During the time I was in the Assemblies, I had no idea that I wasn't really "white".)

I think it telling that Jim Jones of Jonestown fame was thrown out of the denomination because he accepted minorities in his congregation (they now claim otherwise but the evidence disproves their claims).  That shows their real face.  

(For anyone not familiar, that's where "drinking the kool aid" comes from - because his followers willingly drank poisoned kool aid, and most died.)

There are a lot of American Indians in the NAR.  The ones I've encountered are real quick to throw out anyone who doesn't (or isn't likely to) convert.  The churches are known for taking over small tribes and tribal groups - and changing tribal membership from who you're kin to, to church membership first.


by ArchaeoBob on Sun Mar 19, 2017 at 02:45:35 PM EST
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