Sunday, January 27, 2008

LDS Church urges lawmaker compassion in addressing illegal immigration

Here is another religious group, asking for compassion in the immigration debate. DP

By Peggy Fletcher Stack, The Salt Lake Tribune Amid an increasingly rancorous debate about immigration, LDS leaders have urged Utah representatives to be compassionate in their push for legal reforms.

"The basic message was that we need to step back, not be so reactive and let cooler heads prevail," said Rep. David Litvack, D-Salt Lake City, who met on Jan. 11 with LDS Apostle M. Russell Ballard and other church officials. "The anti-immigrant community has become hateful and vilifies all undocumented workers." The LDS leaders said, in essence, "We must remember that we are talking about human beings."

Litvack, House minority whip, considered that valuable advice for lawmakers who are considering a number of anti-immigration bills, including a push to eliminate in-state tuition for children of undocumented immigrants.

Though many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney, take a hard-line view of any people in the country illegally, others believe kindness fits better with the church's beliefs about treating strangers as if they were Jesus himself. They say a compassionate stance also is less hypocritical for the church, whose early members were almost all immigrants. Today, many of Utah's estimated 100,000 undocumented immigrants likely are LDS.

The church remains neutral on immigration legislation, said spokesman Scott Trotter, but it does send missionaries among undocumented immigrants, baptizing many of them without ever asking about their status. It also allows them to go to the temple and on missions.

Mormons were "pioneers on immigration in the 19th century," he said. "Why not be pioneers now?"
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

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