Tenn. Faith Leaders To Gather Out of Concern for Anti-Immigration Legislation


Clergy for Tolerance is an interfaith coalition that works to educate and mobilize faith leaders about the issue of immigration. It played a role in 2009 to defeat an English-only referendum in Nashville.
Some 300 middle-Tennessee leaders of faith are expected to attend a Nov. 30 breakfast in Nashville, Tenn., focused on faith and immigration.

Organized by Clergy for Tolerance, the keynote speaker is scheduled to be William Willimon, bishop of the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church, who called the new anti-immigration law in Alabama the "meanest" in the country.

Willimon is expected to update clergy on the Alabama law and to encourage them to be proactive about the upcoming Tennessee legislative session.

Willimon joined Henry Parsley, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama, Thomas Rodi, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mobile, and Robert Baker, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Birmingham, in filing a lawsuit against the state of Alabama.

They said the immigration law would result in "irreparable harm" to their church members.

"Alabama's anti-immigration law will make it a crime to follow God's commandment to be Good Samaritans," said their lawsuit, pointing out that churches would "perpetrate crimes by knowingly providing food, clothing, shelter and transportation to those in need without first ensuring compliance with the stipulations" of the law.

A federal judge ruled against the portion of the law that prohibited harboring, concealing and transporting undocumented immigrants.

Clergy for Tolerance is an interfaith coalition that works to educate and mobilize faith leaders about the issue of immigration. It played a role in 2009 to defeat an English-only referendum in Nashville.

The breakfast event includes a diverse sponsorship list: the Baptist Center for Ethics, Catholic Charities, the United Methodist Church's Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors, the Islamic Center of Nashville and the Nashville Board of Rabbis.

Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics, is another program speaker.

The Tennessean reported on Sunday that state Rep. Joe Carr (R-Lascassas) said he and other lawmakers are working on 2012 legislation to "demagnetize" the draw of undocumented immigrants to Tennessee.

Carr said earlier this year that he favored a law in Tennessee similar to the anti-immigration law in Arizona, which at that time was the harshest state immigration law.

"If we don't stop illegal immigration at the border, they will just keep coming," said Carr in an anti-immigration video on his official website.

The "demagnetize" argument is the same argument used by supporters of the English-only referendum three years ago.

For more information about the clergy breakfast event, click here.

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Tags: EthicsDaily Staff, Immigration, Interfaith


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