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April 24, 2014

Love Thy Neighbor, Enemies, and …Immigrants?

by Ida Smith

In the Bible, God says love your neighbor.  It is also written that one should love your enemies.  What about immigrants?  

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) designates Sunday, April 27, 2014 as “Immigration Sunday”.  This is a day where congregations are urged to recognize immigrants, celebrate the diversity they bring, and acknowledge immigration issues. 

The Church’s policy on immigration is to stand with immigrant Presbyterians and to advocate for a just and compassionate reform of immigration laws. 

While the PC(USA) calls for support for immigrants, what is the average Presbyterian’s view concerning immigration? How do Presbyterians relate to immigrants?

A Presbyterian Panel  surveyed Presbyterians’ personal connections with immigrants, their congregational involvement with immigrants, and their opinions on immigration issues.

Nearly all Presbyterians are U.S. born citizens.  From Table 1 below we see that Presbyterians don’t know many immigrants but if they did, it was mostly likely to be through a business they frequent.  This table shows how Presbyterians might come in contact with someone who is an immigrant.

Table 1:  Presbyterians’ Personal Contacts with Immigrants

Immigrant

All

Members

Ruling

Elders

Pastors

Specialized

Clergy

Operator or owner of a business

50%

36%

40%

60%

68%

Lives in their neighborhood

41%

28%

33%

50%

55%

Friend

25%

17%

23%

28%

30%

Co-worker

23%

18%

23%

18%

41%

Church member

20%

19%

15%

26%

24%

Father

5%

6%

4%

4%

4%

Spouse

5%

3%

4%

6%

6%

Mother

4%

6%

5%

4%

3%

Self

3%

3%

2%

4%

5%

 

Most Presbyterians are not personally involved with immigrants. PC(USA) congregations are more likely to be involved.   One way Presbyterians might come into contact with an immigrant is through bible study (12% of Presbyterians said they participate in a bible study that includes immigrants; and 26% said their congregation offers a bible study that includes immigrants.)

The majority of specialized clergy disapprove of encouraging law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration laws and disapprove of punishing businesses that employ undocumented immigrants. However, a majority of members, ruling elders, and pastors approve of these tactics. Presbyterians differ in their opinion of punishing people who aid undocumented immigrants—ordained ministers disapprove while the majority of the laity are in favor of punishing them.

 

Table 2:  Presbyterians’ Opinions about Immigration and Immigration Laws

Opinion

All

Members

Ruling

Elders

Pastors

Specialized

Clergy

Rates cultural diversification of U.S. as positive

71%

61%

61%

79%

86%

Approves government legalizing status of undocumented immigrants who first came to US as children

64%

57%

51%

75%

 

 

80%

Approves encouraging law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration laws

53%

65%

61%

46%

 

36%

Approves punishing  businesses that employ undocumented immigrants

49%

54%

61%

42%

 

36%

Disapproves punishing people who aid undocumented immigrants

48%

34%

32%

61%

 

74%

 

Although the Bible may not be as clear cut about loving immigrants, I think God covered it here with this verse from John 13:34. 

To find worship resources for immigration Sunday check out http://oga.pcusa.org/section/mid-council-ministries/immigration/church/


April 21, 2014

Earth to PC(USA)

April 22nd is Earth Day which was originally created to raise awareness and appreciation for our planet.  Earth day is a worldwide annual event where various projects (such as tree planting, trash pick-up, and recycling programs) are scheduled to show support for the protection and preservation of the environment.   It seems like a day congregations would embrace whole-heartedly to promote caring for one of God’s greatest creations…the Earth. 

What do Presbyterians think about conserving the environment?  Are Presbyterians likely to celebrate Earth Day?

From a Presbyterian panel survey, nearly six in ten Presbyterians consider themselves to be ...

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April 16, 2014

A Special Offering

April 20, 2014 is special because it is the day when Christians all around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. For Presbyterians it is special for another reason as well. It is typically the Sunday a special offering is received: the One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS).  The OGHS is one of the four churchwide special offerings the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) promotes in its congregations.  This offering helps support three ministry areas:  the Presbyterian Hunger program, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, and Self-Development of People.  Funds from the OGHS provide food to the hungry, help provide relief to victims ...

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April 7, 2014

Remembering Rwanda

Today marks the beginning of an official time of mourning in Rwanda.  It commemorates the genocide which began 20 years ago on this date.    

Rwanda is a small country in east central Africa comprised mainly of two ethnic groups: the Hutu and the Tutsi.  Rwanda was largely ignored by the rest of the world until April 7, 1994.  On this day a civil war began between the Hutu and the Tutsi. The war lasted 100 days and an estimated 800,000 people in Rwanda were brutally murdered.  The impetus for the genocidal killings were the assassinations of two Hutu presidents ...

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April 2, 2014

What Presbyterians Knoweth about Noah

One of the first Bible stories children learn in Sunday school is the story of Noah (Genesis 6-9). Like most epic stories, Hollywood has found a way to make the story of Noah into a feature-length film. This weekend Noah opened up in theaters in many major cities throughout the country. New Zealand actor Russell Crowe (best known for the lead roles in Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind) plays Noah. There is controversy surrounding this movie: will it be Biblically accurate? How will Noah be portrayed? How will God be portrayed? Wasn’t the movie director an atheist?

The release ...

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