A recent article argued that evangelicals "in the pews" do not share the convictions of prominent evangelical leaders who have spoken out in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, including an eventual process for undocumented immigrants to apply for citizenship ("Evangelicals wary of immigration reform," Feb. 21). The data that your article cited, though, from the Pew Research Center's June 2012 survey, does not actually support that claim.
First of all, Pew's survey found that a plurality of white evangelical voters say that they support both a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and increased border security, which is precisely what evangelical leaders have also advocated. When those white evangelicals who prefer only a path to citizenship (and not increased border security) are included, a majority — 54 percent — agree that the undocumented should eventually be able to earn their way to citizenship and full integration.
Furthermore, your article failed to note that Pew's survey was not of "evangelicals" but of "white, non-Hispanic evangelicals." A significant and growing percentage of American evangelicals (currently about one in five, according to Pew) are not white — and many of these ethnic minority evangelicals are among those whose congregations are most dramatically impacted by dysfunctional immigration policies. Evangelical leaders are simply representing the views of the majority of their diverse congregations — and politicians would do well to take their concerns seriously.
Matthew Soerens, U.S. Church Training Specialist, World Relief