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Churches Sue to Block State Immigration Law Enforcement

August 2nd, 2011

 

In this June 25, 2011 photo, marchers leave a park in Birmingham, Alabama, during a protest against the state's new law cracking down on undocumented immigration. (AP photo)

Leaders of the Roman Catholic, Episcopal and Methodist churches of Alabama filed suit in federal court on August 1st to stop the enforcement of Alabama’s new Anti-Immigration Law because it prevents the free exercise of religion. The bishops called the new law “the nation’s most merciless anti-immigration legislation.”

Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi, of the Mobile Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church in Alabama, Bishop Robert J. Baker, of the Birmingham Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in Alabama, Bishop Henry N. Parsley, Jr., of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Alabama and Bishop William H. Willimon, of the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church have joined together as plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit. Some 338,000 Alabama residents are members of Roman Catholic, Episcopal and Methodist churches in the state.

Archbishop Rodi said “that ‘the love of Christ impels us’ (2 Cor. 5) to live our Christian faith. No law is just which prevents the proclamation of the Gospel message, the baptizing of believers, or love shown to a neighbor in need.”

Members of Alabama’s Episcopal, Methodist and Roman Catholic churches are committed to welcoming strangers. They engage daily in hundreds of ministries throughout the state providing meals, housing, transportation and educational activities such as daycare, English language classes and other services. Bishop Baker noted that the new law “interferes with the Biblical imperative of hospitality which our churches have adopted and encoded in various documents of governance. It aims to shut the doors of our churches and social ministries, against our wills, to a whole class of people, denying them access to such basic human needs as food, clothing, shelter, and, most importantly, worship of God.”

Bishop Willimon said, “To forbid members of Alabama’s faith communities from providing these charitable services will violate their sincere religious belief in helping others without reservation.”

“We do need sensible immigration reform,” said Bishop Parsley, “but the new Anti-Immigration Act criminalizes the Church’s mission.”

 

 

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