On the last item, the church even lobbied Congress in 2005 to pass what Shen called the "Mormon Exception" to immigration laws — a provision that says a religious organization would not be in violation of immigration laws if an undocumented alien is a volunteer minister or missionary for that organization.
How are Mormons supposed to judge fellow Mormons who are illegal aliens?
"They are often strong, spiritual members. And we don't know how God will judge them," Lange said. "But we do know that the church has asked us, as members, to view them as our brothers and sisters."
Lange quoted from the church's June statement. " The bedrock moral issue … is how we treat each other as children of God."
And this is where some LDS Church members haul out the 12th Article of Faith and treat it as a solitary religious principle.
"I've spent a lot of time with people who are very resentful of what the church is asking them to do," Lange said. "They feel that people who are here in an undocumented status are illegal, and it is like asking us to have compassion for a criminal. Let me just tell you, we are supposed to have compassion for criminals. Did we forget what the scripture said about … visiting those in prison? It is not an implication that you only visit the innocent people in prison. Think of all the law breakers that Jesus reached out to."
Lange said she wasn't trying to characterize undocumented people in any way, but if a person thinks they are criminals, he or she should treat them as Jesus taught.
"I think the church has tried to stay as neutral as possible," Lange said. "I think the church is saying, 'We're not going to tell you the solution. We're telling you how we would like you to approach the discussion about the solution.'"
Lange quoted the three basic principles the LDS Church set out for a "responsible approach" to immigration law:
1. The commandment to "love thy neighbor."
2. The importance of keeping families intact.
3. The federal government's obligation to secure its borders.
Lange said the church is not asking the government to not enforce immigration law, but is asking for a balanced approach to new laws. And an approach from Mormons that includes more of Christ's teachings than just the 12th Article of Faith. "Do you think that even if someone has broken the law," Lange said, "that we could still love them and look at a way for them to right the wrong that they may have done?"
LDS Church statements on immigration
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