"The two have distinctly different obligations as far as the Bible is concerned," he said. "The role of the church is to love neighbors without respect to origin. The state's role is justice — to protect citizens and advance their wellbeing above those of other countries. That's not to say they can't be reconciled, but different traditions balance those out differently."
There are also different readings of the facts on the ground. Scholars come to different conclusions about the economic effects of immigration, and there are many different interpretations of its history. Without the directness many Christians find in the Bible on other issues, for many, those contradictions are especially weighty.
Despite the Bible's apparent lack of clarity, though, clergy insist scripture is relevant to the immigration discussion. Buttram uses its verses to justify voting for HB 56. Laney and Lyons turn to its pages to justify their decisions to rebel against HB 56.
"The bible has as much to say about immigration as it does about any other issue," said Land, who was influential in crafting a recent Southern Baptist Convention resolution titled, "On Immigration and the Gospel." "It's just a matter of whether or not people are paying attention."
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