In this article from the Christian Post, several prominent, conservative Evangelicals have recently pressed for new immigration reform, citing from the Bible that we ought to be “welcoming the stranger.” Leith Anderson, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, has persistently urged the U.S. government to present new immigration reform this year, criticizing that current laws tend to break up families during the immigration process. Anderson urged Evangelicals as well to immerse themselves in the immigration debate because “those people we talk about, those immigrants, those aliens, they are us as part of the church.”
What was striking about this particular article is that we rarely see Evangelicals in this light. The Evangelicals in this article break from the “us versus them” mold of James Morone's Hellfire Nation that usually pervades their attitude, especially in regard to issues such as stem cell research, abortion, and same-sex marriage. But with Anderson there was no call to arms, nor any of the rabble rousing rhetoric that often accompanied a debate. In contrast to the “us versus them” mentality that has been so pervasive in their characterization, the Evangelicals in this article actually contend that “immigrants are not the 'others' … they are 'us.'”
Leith Anderson's views by no means encompass the popular Evangelical attitude toward immigration; in a poll conducted in 2006 by the Pew Research Center, about 63% of the Evangelicals polled believed immigrants were a “threat to American customs and values.” While the attention inevitably centers on the more noticeable and inflammatory figures who are commonly associated with this “us versus them” rhetoric, it is important not to lose track of a more holistic view of the Evangelical community, which includes figures such as Anderson who emphasize a dialogue that promotes inclusion rather than exclusion.