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Southern Baptists Support Immigration Reform: Mississippi Baptists Split on the Issue

By Daniel Cherry | Published 20 Jun 2011 05:40pm | comments

The Southern Baptist Convention recently passed a resolution advocating immigration reform. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how the vote by the nation's largest protestant denomination is getting mixed reviews in Mississippi.

The resolution says the Southern Baptist Convention supports a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants. It suggests allowing immigrants to pay restitution and then have a path to citizenship. William Perkins with the Mississippi Baptist Convention says it shows the church is looking to appeal to a new demographic.

"As the predominately white, the Anglo congregations are leveling off or tapering off, the growth will be in ethnic ministries. America is a different country than it was in the 1950s and Southern Baptists can either adapt or die."

Attendance and baptisms have been at the lowest levels in decades for Southern Baptists. Bill Chandler, President of the Mississippi Immigrants Right's Alliance, applauds their decision.

"I think they see our country is becoming more multi-cultural in that there are more people of color coming to the United States."

But Chandler says the church could still do more.

"I think it's a step in the right direction. I think they have a long way to go to turn on human rights and workers right's issues, but I think they're on the right path."

Not everyone is thrilled about the resolution. Dr. Rodney Hunt is the president of the Mississippi Federation for Immigration Reform and Enforcement. He says he's a Southern Baptist and he doesn't see it being well received.

"I do not believe that this represents the mainstream thought of the people that are in the congregations of the Southern Baptist Convention. The people that I know in the church I think, overwhelmingly, if they were told about the resolution, would reject it."

Earlier this year an Arizona style immigration bill failed in the state legislature.




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