More than 100 leaders of evangelical organizations, churches, seminaries and universities say they’re part of a growing movement in support of immigration reform. This week, they launched an effort to influence upcoming legislative debate over the issue.
As part of their effort, they've challenged more than 100,000 churches around the country to read biblical scripture that relates to immigration for 40 consecutive days and to pray that these passages will influence lawmakers in Washington.
The effort includes a video featuring prominent evangelical leaders reading from the 25th chapter of Matthew, where their “I Was a Stranger” challenge gets its name.
“In the '60s, I was a college student," says William Hamel, president of the Evangelical Free Church of America. "And the sad truth is that, along a lot of other white evangelical Christians, I missed the Civil Rights Movement. I watched and did nothing. We must not and we will not stand on the sidelines this time.”
Hamel and other supporters say the evangelical church is more ethnically diverse than it was in the 1960s, so they believe the time is ripe for support of immigration as a social justice issue.
White evangelicals have been one of the most historically faithful Republican constituencies, but this has changed in recent years as the evangelical Latino population keeps growing, according to recent data by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
The “I Was a Stranger” challenge will use text messaging and social media to reach people in California and throughout the country.
The video has been changed from the original one that was published.