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Protestant Pastors Affirm Ministry to Immigrants; Few Churches Engage

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A disconnect exists in U.S. Protestant congregations between leaders affirming responsibility for ministry to immigrants regardless of documentation and churches actually doing so, according to a LifeWay Research report published Feb. 20.

A strong majority (76 percent) of Protestant pastors in the U.S. affirm that churches should minister to immigrants regardless of their immigration status.

When presented with the statement, “Christians have a responsibility to assist immigrants even if they are in the country illegally,” 47 percent said they strongly agreed and 29 percent somewhat agreed.

By comparison, 10 percent were unsure, 8 percent somewhat disagreed and 6 percent strongly disagreed.

Despite these high levels of affirmation, only 29 percent said their congregations were “personally involved at the local level in assisting immigrants.”

Pastors of mainline congregations were slightly more likely than evangelical leaders to say their congregations ministered to immigrants, by a margin of 33 percent to 26 percent.

Baptist pastors (23 percent) were the least likely to say their congregations were ministering to immigrants, while Lutherans were the most likely (40 percent), followed by Presbyterian / Reformed (35 percent) and Methodists (33 percent).

Holiness (88 percent) and Presbyterian / Reformed (87 percent) pastors were more likely to affirm Christian responsibility to help immigrants than Lutherans (74 percent), Church of Christ (73 percent), Baptists (70 percent) and Pentecostals (66 percent).

The margin of error was plus-or-minus 3.2 percent.

The full report is available here.