A group of pastors met with presidential hopeful Jeb Bush earlier this month in South Carolina to try to get a feel for his candidacy.
Bush described the importance of his faith, saying he reads the Bible daily, and he shared his views on hot-button issues at the May 2 meeting in Spartanburg. The pastors’ ears perked up when the former Florida governor, who converted to Catholicism after marrying a Mexican woman, talked about immigration and refugees.
Bush’s history on this issue is consistent:
- In 2009, Bush sent a letter to Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis advocating an immigration plan developed by the Council on Foreign Relations. That report included in its recommendations an earned pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
- In February 2014 Bush was one of 10 national Republicans who signed a statement calling for the U.S. to import more refugees. Bush was joined in signing the document by Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and a known supporter of Muslim Brotherhood front groups.
One of the pastors listening to Bush on May 2 in Spartanburg was Jason Lee, a local pastor who was tapped to be director of the new Spartanburg office of World Relief, which is a major player in the refugee resettlement business.
World Relief plans to bring in 60 refugees from Syria and Africa over the next year. The announcement that Muslim refugees would be arriving soon in this small Southern city brought no small measure of controversy, splitting the Christian community in half. Some want to welcome the refugees while others think the city already has enough poverty, unemployment and homeless veterans that need their attention.
The controversy has led to a proposed provision being added in the state budget that would require counties to sign off on plans for refugees before any funds could be released for their resettlement. The proposal has passed the state House but remains fluid in the Senate.
“This proviso would stop the resettlements in Spartanburg for at least a year because World Relief is not going to bring refugees here if they can’t sign them up for all the welfare benefits that flow through the state, because the churches do not support this program financially,” said Christina Jeffrey, a local Christian activist who comes down on the opposite side of the issue from Jason Lee.
“The people are very confused on this,” she said. “They think the churches support it with their own money.”
Lee said he was impressed by what he heard from Bush. In a twist of irony, the former Republican governor’s views on immigrants and refugees mesh with South Carolina’s religious left, more than the religious right.
Lee told National Review he was “glad to hear (Bush) talk about immigration. While it is an issue he may have taken some heat on in the past, I think that is unjustifiable since he seems to be one of the few GOP candidates to actually take a position on it – while others seem to waffle.”
Lee said he thought Bush’s views line up with the evangelical community’s views on immigration reform.
He cited a March survey by Nashville-based LifeWay Research that found 61 percent of evangelicals support a path to citizenship for “undocumented” immigrants. If found 72 percent wanted to “protect the unity of immigrant families,” and 82 percent say the government’s immigration policy should “respect people’s God-given dignity.”
Are evangelicals and refugees being used by the left?
But are evangelical Christians really jumping wholesale onto the open-borders bandwagon? Or are pastors like Jason Lee running to the left of mainstream evangelical Christians in a conservative state like South Carolina?
Kelly Monroe Kullberg of Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration said it depends how you ask the question as to how Christians will respond to polls on immigration. She believes other polls more accurately reflect the true feelings of evangelicals on the issue.
“Overwhelmingly, by a 12 to 1 margin, evangelicals surveyed in this month’s Pulse/Rasmussen poll said they will vote for a presidential candidate who puts American workers first,” Kullberg said. “Most evangelicals believe that ‘loving the stranger’ means to treat foreigners humanely while applying the rule of law.”
Kullberg was a missionary with World Relief in Central America in the 1990s, working to redeem a city garbage dump in which 8,000 Salvadorans had been forced to live. When World Relief began to shut down some of its hard-fought Central American missions to “resettle” people in the U.S., she became concerned.
“With 60 million American citizens out of the workforce, and 20 million actively looking for scarce jobs, Christians know that love and biblical wisdom would bring more jobs to our nation. Not more workers,” she said. “The goal is not hostility but hospitality. That takes healing and strength.”
Candidates such as Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speak on the need for immigration “reform” but such statements only blur the reality and confuse the issue, she said.
She told WND she finds it disturbing when evangelical groups cooperate with Hillary Clinton’s and Obama’s goal of a forming a “permanent progressive majority.”
“ThinkProgress, a far-left media organization, admits to ‘using an evangelicals grass-tops strategy‘ to pass amnesty,” she said.
“The Democrats need voters and will sadly jeopardize the lives of foreigners by keeping borders open, the welfare state growing and thus inviting vulnerable foreigners to the United States for political purposes,” she continued. “It’s time the church wakes up to this reality.”
Christians doing government’s work not allowed to evangelize
Christian groups, such as Lee’s Come Closer Spartanburg, often quote Scripture about caring for the “stranger” and talk about their eagerness to share the gospel with foreign-born people as motivations for their work with refugees and immigrants, many of whom are Muslim.
But that claim falls flat as soon as an organization accepts government money, Kullberg said.
“These agencies like World Relief and Lutheran Social Services cannot share the Gospel if they are accepting government money. Both the U.N. and President Obama, who are sending Islam to America, do not want us sharing the Christian gospel,” she said. “It’s becoming clearer each day that they want to silence us. If agencies wanted to do evangelism they would reject the government money.”
That holds especially true in the secretive “refugee resettlement” business, Kullberg said.
The federal government, working with the United Nations, is funding nine resettlement agencies, five of which are Christian and one Jewish, to carry out the “resettlement” of people from the Third World into American cities.
“And by ‘resettle,’ they often mean to place them in various welfare programs,” Kullberg said.
“Hundreds of millions of dollars are being exchanged for this. But why are these agencies not asking tax-paying citizens to study this and vote on how Islamic migration will affect their communities?
“Look at Europe,” she continued. “It is a fact that Muslim people, whom God loves, don’t plan to assimilate into our culture. In fact they believe that all of America will worship Allah. They call this migration the ‘hijra,’ which is the Islamic doctrine of migration to advance Islam and Shariah law. These ‘evangelical agencies’ should do some soul-searching and be honest about what they are doing to our nation. I believe it is immoral and will end very badly for our children and grandchildren.”
Follow the money
Kullberg says it’s important to follow the money and find out who is financing the web of amnesty programs and organizations – which are proceeding even in the face of two court rulings that declared them illegal.
She said neo-Marxist Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners; the radical Chicano civil rights group National Council of La Raza; and the groups related to the Evangelical Immigration Table are all receiving funds from far-left foundations, the government and, in some cases, the United Nations.
The National Immigration Forum is the largest of these groups. Its largest donor is billionaire activist George Soros, the chairman of Hillary PAC and author of “The Bubble of American Supremacy.”
“His funding is followed by the Rockefeller, Ford and Carnegie foundations, all of whom are globalists,” Kullberg said.
Kullberg provided a copy of NIF’s IRS Form 990 to prove her assertions.
While socialists such as Wallis talk about love for the foreigner, that love often comes at the expense of American citizens, Kullberg said.
“Who is doing job-training for our unemployed African-Americans in cities like Baltimore where they have lost hope? Who is helping our veterans who are overlooked for medical care?” she asks. “Who is hiring our college graduates with debt but no real career opportunities?
“Our hope is in the whole counsel of Scripture: justice for citizens and kindness to well-meaning and lawful guests. In Scripture we find both the well-meaning Ruth who comes as blessing, and we also find Nehemiah leading the nation in the rebuilding of walls to protect from harm and to cultivate God’s wisdom.”
Come Closer Spartanburg also talks about “loving our city to Christ” in promotional videos found on its website.
“We know that God loves us all, every tribe and nation,” Kullberg said. “He wants to be the Lord of all nations, and doesn’t invite us all into any one nation.
“When we look at the whole counsel of Scripture we don’t find amnesty, but wise welcome. It’s unfortunate that Gov. Bush didn’t mention love for American citizens, 60 million of whom don’t have jobs. Twenty million are looking for jobs, can’t find one,” she said.
“I’m afraid that World Relief and its parent, the National Association of Evangelicals, is misrepresenting evangelicals in the pews across America.”
Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration, or EBI, conducted its poll on May 12-13 through Pulse Opinion Research.
The survey asked 800 racially and politically diverse evangelical voters nationwide if they had seen news “about 2016 presidential candidates talking about whether to cut or increase annual legal immigration” (65 percent said yes, and 28 percent said no). The voters were then asked their opinions about types of statements being made by potential presidential candidates but without mentioning any name or party.
For the voters most likely to be moved by an issue – those who “strongly” supported and “strongly” opposed statements – the results were striking, Kullberg said.
By a 4-1 margin, evangelicals “strongly supported” (40 percent) rather than “strongly opposed” (11 percent) a statement that said legal immigration should be cut because “the priority for U.S. immigration policy should be to protect American workers and their wages.”