Originally appeared in Faith in Public Life, December 2, 2011.
Earlier this year, anti-immigration legislation in Alabama outraged civil rights and faith leaders in that state and around the country. Clergy such as William Willimon, Bishop of the North Alabama Conference of The United Methodist Church, took action against what he has dubbed “the meanest immigration Law in the nation” by joining a federal lawsuit against it.
Fearing that similar, nefarious measures may be implemented in their state, an interfaith coalition of nearly 300 clergy gathered at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel in Tennessee to consider the moral impact of pending anti-immigrant legislation in Nashville. The breakfast, hosted by Clergy for Tolerance, was part of that group’s mission of the promotion of interfaith dialogue toward comprehensive immigration reform on a federal level.
Keynoting the event, Willimon beseeched the crowd to take action. “Please don’t leave these moral and ethical matters to your politicians,” Willimon urged, “Speak up as people of faith from your faith perspective and show the world that you have something to say on this issue.”
This breakfast provided an outlet for faith leaders to put their beliefs into action and to become moral leaders in our society. Gatherings like this exhibit the potential of faith to elevate our social debate, promote the common good in the public square, and ultimately to lead to real social and policy improvement.
Listen to Bishop Willimon’s speech.