Former President George W. Bush Asks ‘Are Our Churches Too Political? Are They Focused on the Right Mission, Which Is Saving Souls?’ While Discussing Immigration

NASHVILLE (BP) – Viewing human beings with “a loving eye” offers a helpful philosophy in addressing the United States’ “fractured” immigration system, former President George W. Bush said in an online conversation cosponsored Thursday (May 6) by the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

The ERLC joined with the George W. Bush Institute and the National Immigration Forum to present the 35-minute virtual event. ERLC President Russell Moore conducted the discussion with Bush and conservative scholar Yuval Levin. The publication of Bush’s latest book – “Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants” – prompted much of the conversation.

Bush told Moore his philosophy on immigration begins with “all life is precious, and we’re all God’s children. If that’s how you view immigration, then you don’t view people with [a] hostile eye. You view them with a loving eye.”

“And loving eye doesn’t mean tearing down a border wall,” he said. “Loving eye means treating people with respect.”

Moore asked Bush, who served as president from 2001 to 2009, how to change survey results that show some religious communities “are actually becoming less supportive of immigrants and refugees when that used to be the reverse.”

The former president said in response, “Are our churches too political? Are they focused on the right mission, which is saving souls? . . . Until there is a religious awakening to a certain extent, a revival of mission, this issue may not be as important as it used to be.”

Despite the multi-decade failure to approve federal reform of the immigration system, Bush said progress can be accomplished, “but it’s going to have to be in bite-sized pieces. It can’t be the overall deal.”

Bush said “the place to start” on immigration reform is finding a solution for the category of undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers, who were brought to the United States as children.

Nearly three-fourths of Americans support granting legal status to undocumented immigrants brought across the border as children, according to a 2020 survey by the Pew Research Center. Why then, Moore asked, hasn’t a federal solution for Dreamers been enacted?

Bush said he guesses it is because politics “now reigns supreme,” adding that both sides of the political aisle include people who say, “Let’s keep this issue alive because it benefits us politically.”

In February, a congressional bill designed to enable Dreamers to earn permanent legal status and, ultimately, citizenship by meeting specific requirements gained reintroduction, 20 years after it was first offered.

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Source: Baptist Press

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