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The Gospel vs. Law?

The New York Times ran an editorial this morning about Cardinal Roger Mahony’s call for prayer and fasting regarding humane reform of immigration laws. What motivates him? A current bill that will make it a felony to shield or offer support to illegal immigrants. According to the Times editorial, the bill (which passed in the House) could:

expand the definition of "alien smuggling" in a way that could theoretically include working in a soup kitchen, driving a friend to a bus stop or caring for a neighbor's baby. Similar language appears in legislation being considered by the Senate this week.
If the bill became law, could it be used to arrest volunteers and others who work in private or religious organizations providing assistance to illegal immigrants and refugees? Does it expand the definition of “alien smuggling” to include religious organizations who are helping someone remain in the U.S. by giving food, shelter or care when they know they aren’t here legally? Judge for yourself: here’s a summary of the bill and here’s the section I think the Times is referring to. At any rate, Mahony thinks so: According to the Times, Mahony said he will instruct his priests to defy the law if the bill is passed.

I haven’t been able to find much on this from any mainstream Protestant voices this morning. The Christian Examiner reports that the National Evangelical Hispanic Alliance is opposed. That's about it. If you run across anything else, let me know.

A few years ago, I spent some time researching and writing about immigration and Christian responsibility. I know the issue is complicated, but I think this bill is worth watching. Many churches run programs for immigrants and if this bill indeed would make aiding illegal immigrants by providing shelter, food or care a felony, we could be facing the same choices as the Catholics.

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