Tennessee discusses immigration: Faith leaders Address ethical, moral impact of pending legislation

Originally appeared on December 12, 2011 on the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church website

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — More than 275 faith leaders from across Tennessee gathered here Nov. 30 to consider the ethical and moral impact of pending legislation that would affect immigrant communities statewide.

United Methodist Bishop Will Willimon of North Alabama Conference urged attendees not to “leave these moral and ethical matters to your politicians.”
Priests, pastors, imams, rabbis and monks attended a Clergy for Tolerance breakfast at Loews Vanderbilt Hotel to hear keynote speaker, Bishop William Willimon, episcopal leader of the North Alabama Conference of The United Methodist Church. He is one of four Christian leaders who joined a federal lawsuit to try and stop Alabama’s recent immigration legislation considered to be the most egregious in the nation.

“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.”

Dr. Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics, also encouraged his peers to act. “Now is the time for us to build the moral capital in houses of faith for the coming tsunami of anti-immigration rhetoric and anti-immigration laws,” he said. “Now is the time for pro-active collaboration among good-willed people of faith so that we can advance the common good in the state of Tennessee.”

Both faith leaders encouraged their colleagues to call upon their faith traditions to respond to the legislation that would separate families, create a culture of fear, and hurt local economies.

Editor’s note: Clergy for Tolerance is an interfaith coalition that seeks to encourage dialogue on federal and state immigration policy from a faith perspective. By utilizing state and national facts, examining faith traditions, and providing opportunities to express compassion for immigrants and refugees the coalition strives to mobilize and educate people of faith to support comprehensive immigration reform on a federal level.

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