Gods bless the churches in Alabama where leaders of Episcopal, Methodist and Roman Catholic churches, representing 338,000 Alabama residents, filed suit Monday to block enforcement of the state’s new immigration law, claiming it prevents free exercise of religion. The Southern Poverty Law Center has also filed a suit opposing the law.
The law, signed by Governor Robert Bentley on June 9 and set to go into effect September 1, broadens police powers, requiring local authorities to identify illegal immigrants. Alabama is the fifth state to enact legislation which
requires police officers to verify the immigration status of anyone they stop and suspect may be in the U.S. illegally. Businesses must use a federal database called E-Verify to determine whether job applicants are eligible to work. In addition, the measure makes it a crime to rent housing to illegal immigrants.
Bishop Robert J. Baker of the Birmingham Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in Alabama said in a statement that the law:
interferes with the biblical imperative of hospitality which our churches have adopted and encoded in various documents of governance. It aims to shut the doors of our churches and social ministries, against our wills, to a whole class of people, denying them access to such basic human needs as food, clothing, shelter, and, most importantly, worship of God.
And in other religion news, lots of Americans are just ignorant, according a poll conducted by Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service.
Most Americans (56 percent) say it’s important for a candidate to have strong beliefs, even if those beliefs differ from their own…Yet the religious groups most firmly behind this point — white evangelicals (73 percent) and ethnic minority Christians (74 percent) — often falter when asked about politicians’ religions.
For instance, 44 percent of white evangelicals know that Romney is a Mormon. At the same time, more than eight in 10 evangelicals say Mormon religious beliefs greatly differ from their own.
And while only one in three Americans can identify President Obama’s sect of Christianity (oh come on that’s splitting hairs, since he is currently an “unaffiliated Christian” and a former member of the United Church of Christ; seriously, what sect did Reagan belong to? Bush 1? Ford?), 18% still think the President is a Muslim!
In other findings:
At a little more than 70 percent, Republicans and Tea Party members are significantly more likely than Democrats (51 percent) to say it’s important for a presidential candidate to have strong religious beliefs. Tea Party members (46 percent) are even more likely than Republicans as a whole (38 percent) to say it is “very” important for a candidate to have strong religious beliefs.
Gary Scott Smith, an expert on presidential religions at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, told Religious News Service that white evangelicals
are going to be more likely to vote Republican, even if the party nominates someone who isn’t known for strong faith commitments. And if they don’t recognize that Romney’s a Mormon by now, then you wonder how attuned they are to politics anyway.
He added that
Americans have traditionally elected presidents who use religious language and seek divine guidance, especially when grappling with the moral conflicts of the day, provided that their beliefs are relatively mainstream and don’t conflict with national security.
And then there’s this–
—White evangelicals are the group most likely to say they don’t know what Bachmann’s beliefs are (51 percent), even though she attends a Baptist church, and only 35 percent say she has similar religious beliefs to them. [Thank gods on the latter!]