By Michael Cass
September 4, 2012
A block from a hub of Democratic National Convention activity, a group of politically progressive religious leaders talked Tuesday about the church's role in immigration issues, centered on a documentary film produced by a Nashville-based organization.
The film, "Gospel Without Borders," looks at the plight of undocumented workers crossing the border from Mexico into Arizona, with some of them finding their way to Arkansas, Alabama and North Carolina. It was produced by the Baptist Center for Ethics, which was founded in Nashville in 1991.
After the screening, bishops from the United Methodist Church in Southern California, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Little Rock and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America talked about how the church should respond to people who, in their words, are coming to America to pursue better lives.
"I believe that as people who follow Jesus, we Christians are called to resist these repressive laws," Julian Gordy, bishop of the Southeastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, told an audience of about 50 people at a Catholic church near the Charlotte Convention Center. "They're mean-spirited, and they don't do anything to make us safer. What they do is foster a spirit of hostility and suspicion and ethnic discrimination."
Gordy, who lives in Nashville and has lobbied members of Congress on the issue, said in an interview that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid once told him to encourage church members to make their case to lawmakers.
"They're getting swamped by the other side," Gordy said. "They're extraordinarily passionate. We believe they are wrong about this."
The Democratic Party did not sponsor the film screening. Robert Parham, founder and executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics, said it was "one of the very few autonomous faith events at the Democratic National Convention."