Anti-IrishLike employers eager for a plentiful supply of cheap labor, Republican-leaning religious leaders have a soft spot in their hearts for comprehensive immigration reform–aka a plentiful supply of fannies in the pews. Now evangelical leaders, aka the Christian Right, have joined with Catholic bishops and Mormon General Authorities to support the cause.

The scripture the evangelicals have tied themselves to is Matthew 25;35: “I was a stranger, and ye took me in.” If the GOP wants to inherit the  kingdom of God, or at least to prosper in this world, it will associate itself with these faith-based sheep, not the goats of talk radio and the Wall Street Journal editorial page.

The difficulty is that the Republican Party has an anti-immigrant gene in its DNA that is hard to dislodge. Since the Party came into being by absorbing the Know-Nothings in the 1850s, its default mode has been nativist. And so it is that even when faced with demographic catastrophe at the polls, the Republicans in the House of Representatives struggle to discern a path to citizenship for the strangers among us.

No religious group is more Republican or more hostile to immigration reform than white evangelicals. My guess is that it’ll take many years of wandering in the desert before their leaders can herd them into the promised land.

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