Odyssey Networks released an exclusive story illuminating the issues from the perspectives of both the church and the state in their video “The Immigration Debate: Alabama Bishops Unite to Fight Tough New Law.” One vision seeks to dissipate the fear of seeking spiritual and material support for the “least of these”; the other seeks to alleviate the fear of declining job prospects for the 10% of the state’s population who are unemployed.
RNS reports that Episcopal, Roman Catholic and Methodist bishops have joined with civil rights groups to challenge an immigration bill signed into law in June by Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley that has been described as the toughest enforcement measure in the country. The law makes harboring, transporting or shielding undocumented people a criminal offense. Yet faith communities are often transporting immigrants to church, hospitals, and events, while assisting them with food, shelter and school supplies—the very hospitality commanded by scriptures.
“Religion is not just about what we do on Sunday morning in worship, it’s about how we live and love our neighbor, how we do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God in our dealings with each other. But the law creates a climate of fear…” says the Right Reverend Henry Nutt Parsley, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama.
“We are people under the law and we have to be obedient to the laws, but laws have to reflect the morality of our community and of our culture and the church needs to speak up on the side of what is right, and we believe that loving our neighbors is the right way to live.”