It has been at least mildly encouraging in recent days to see various politicians begin to move in a bipartisan way toward comprehensive immigration reform.
That said, it would be foolish to imagine that we will come to some national consensus about this matter in a few days and that Congress will reflect that in legislation that the president would sign.
But as we think about this area, it's worth remembering that when it comes to religion and immigration, there are at least two major matters to keep in mind.
The first, of course, is how does religion affect our thinking about immigrants and questions of immigration.The second is how do the immigrants change the religious landscape in the United States.
I thought Catholic author Richard Rohr, a Fransican priest, was properly challenging about the first of these matters in this essay, published in 2011. In some sense, Rohr is encouraging all people of faith to see things through their theological lenses. For, as he writes, "If our love of God does not directly influence, and even change, how we engage in the issues of our time on this earth, I wonder what good religion is."
As for the other piece of this -- how immigrants change the face of religion here -- all you need do is take a look at the changing American religious landscape to see that especially since the last major immigration reform in 1965, people of many different faiths have come to the U.S. and created a much more diverse religious picture here.
In many ways, that wave of immigrants has given us a chance to be a model for the world in how to live in religious harmony given a religiously pluralistic society. Have we got it right yet? No, but the many efforts to improve interfaith understanding are making a difference.
So as the immigration reform debate now moves forward, let's not lose site of how our own faith will help determine our views on that reform or on how new immigrants may change the picture of religion in this country.
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AWAITING PAPAL SHOOTING EVIDENCE
The man who shot Pope John Paul II in 1981 now says in a new book that the Ayatollah Khomeini told him to do it. Well, anything is possible, but in cases like this the evidence needs to be irrefutable. So I'll wait for Khomeini to return from the dead and confess.
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P.S.: My latest Presbyterian Outlook column now is online. To read it, click here.