A new documentary on faith and immigration is getting attention in the state with the newest and toughest immigration laws.
A No More Deaths sticker at Gene Lefebvre's home in Arizona. He is one of two pastors who runs No More Deaths, a ministry to immigrants trying to cross the desert into the United States. (Photo: EthicsDaily.com)
"Gospel Without Borders," produced by EthicsDaily.com, was profiled Sunday night in a segment for WAAY Channel 31, the ABC affiliate in Huntsville, Ala. The segment and accompanying news story are now available online.
"With the passage of Alabama's illegal immigration bill, the state was thrust into the forefront of one of the country's most heated debates," the segment began. "Now, a new documentary looks at the role faith plays in this highly political problem."
"We're trying to bring more light and less heat, as they say, to the issue of immigration and what the Christian faith, especially, has to say to that issue," said documentary co-producer/director Cliff Vaughn, who was interviewed for the segment.
"Gospel Without Borders," packaged with two versions of the documentary on a single DVD, features stories in five states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa and North Carolina.
Those profiled include: the Roman Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Little Rock, Ark.; a United Methodist church in Des Moines, Iowa, being renovated and re-energized by Hispanic immigrants; and two Presbyterian pastors who run a humanitarian organization called No More Deaths in the Arizona desert, where roughly 5,000 confirmed deaths have occurred in the past decade as people try to cross the desert and enter the United States.
"If you don't see the face of Jesus in that person, then you fail to see the Gospel," says John Fife, one of the pastors who runs No More Deaths, in a scene excerpted from the documentary and shown in the segment.
More than 5,000 copies of the documentary have already been purchased by individuals and organizations. EthicsDaily.com is in the process of placing another order from the DVD manufacturer.
Cities across the country are also in the midst of screening "Gospel Without Borders," with events already held in Little Rock, Ark., and Greensboro and Charlotte, N.C.
First Baptist Church of Raleigh, N.C., screened the documentary yesterday with an ecumenical panel, and Lakeland, Fla., Atlanta and Denver will all host screenings in the coming week.
The Atlanta screening on Oct. 11 at Smoke Rise Baptist Church will also feature a diverse panel: Luis Zarama, auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Atlanta; Timothy McDonald, pastor of First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta; Mimi Walker, co-pastor of Druid Hills Baptist Church in Atlanta; Lesley Ediger, program manager of the Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Service of Atlanta; and Robert Parham, executive editor of EthicsDaily.com. (Click here for a list of screenings.)
"Christians are not going to agree on policy, let's say, regarding immigration. But certainly, of all the Christian faith leaders we talked to, they see a mandate in Scripture to love God and to love neighbor," said Vaughn, who has directed eight documentaries for EthicsDaily.com. "And that has, I think, certainly implications for how we treat our neighbors who come from Mexico, Guatemala, who wind up here in the United States."
A federal district court upheld most parts of Alabama's anti-immigration law last week. Police in Alabama, for example, may now check a person's citizenship status when pulled over for a routine traffic stop.
In addition to the faith mandate, Vaughn pointed out that border deaths are also a human rights issue.
In the documentary, the Arizona pastors tell the story of finding a 14-year-old girl who died alone in the desert while trying to cross and rejoin her parents.
"I don't think – whether you consider yourself a liberal or a conservative, regardless of your political affiliation or where you put yourself on a spectrum – I don't think anyone likes to hear that kind of story," said Vaughn in the WAAY-TV segment.
The two-and-a-half minute segment was part of WAAY-TV's "Focus on Faith" series, reported by Melissa Riopka.
Watch the segment and read more about the story here.
Visit GospelWithoutBorders.net to learn more about EthicsDaily.com's new documentary on faith and immigration.
"Gospel Without Borders" Trailer from EthicsDaily on Vimeo.