Why would EthicsDaily.com sponsor an event on faith and immigration during the Democratic National Convention?
The Villanueva family is featured in EthicsDaily.com's documentary, "Gospel Without Borders," which will be shown at a Charlotte, N.C., church during the Democratic National Convention. (Photo: EthicsDaily.com)
The answer – simply put – is to offer a moral witness of faith leaders to political leaders about the urgency of addressing immigration reform. Nothing more. Nothing less.
There is a growing consensus coursing through the life of the American faith community that speaks in a variety of ways in the public square about immigration reform.
Our event is another such initiative, and hopefully one that will help more U.S. leaders to think about the plight of the undocumented in moral terms, not always in political, legal and economic terms.
At the heart of the event is a screening of the 31-minute version of "Gospel Without Borders" with an ecumenical panel of bishops.
"Gospel Without Borders" is itself an ecumenical documentary produced by EthicsDaily.com, whose parent organization is the Baptist Center for Ethics.
The documentary was funded largely by the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas. It includes interviews with Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian and Catholic clergy.
In an ecumenical breakthrough last fall, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops mailed a copy of the documentary to every Catholic bishop, urging them to use the documentary in their parishes.
Additionally, a Catholic bishop participated in a screening in Atlanta at Smoke Rise Baptist Church.
The Charlotte event will be held on Sept. 4 at Saint Peter's Catholic Church, located downtown across a parking lot from the Charlotte convention center and convention hotels.
Confirmed bishops include:
- Minerva Carcaño, bishop of the Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church;
- Julian Gordy, bishop of the Southeastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; and
- Anthony Taylor, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Little Rock, Ark.
Clifford Jones, pastor of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Charlotte, will welcome delegates, party officials, members of the faith community and others to the event.
Other bishops, judicatory leaders and pastors have been and are being invited to participate.
The mid-afternoon event is clearly ecumenical with the hope that all people of faith – and no faith – will feel comfortable attending.
Does having an event during the DNC without a corresponding event at the Republican National Convention make the event partisan?
Judge by the event's stated purpose. Judge by the panelists. Judge by the documentary itself.
The documentary has both a pastoral and prophetic edge, not a partisan one.
For example, the documentary challenges the negative narratives in our culture, such as "the undocumented don't pay taxes." That narrative is fed by both parties when their leaders say that comprehensive immigration reform must require the undocumented to pay taxes – as if they don't.
The event is neither sanctioned nor funded by the Democratic Party. It is held during the Democratic National Convention for political and faith leaders concerned about the undocumented.
"Gospel Without Borders" puts a human face on the issue of immigration. It separates myth from fact, examines what the Bible says about treatment of the "stranger," shows the experiences of documented and undocumented immigrants, and provides handles for people of faith to advance the common good without getting bogged down in legislative remedies – which is where so much division occurs.
For more information about the event, click here.
Given the limited seating at Saint Peter's, we are requesting that interested parties register to obtain a free ticket. Click here to register.
In addition to the event for faith and political leaders in downtown Charlotte, another screening of the documentary will be held on Sept. 4, in the evening, at Park Road Baptist Church.
For information about this event sponsored by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina, click here.
Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics. Follow him on Twitter at RobertParham1 and friend him on Facebook.