Address of Pastor Jim Tolle
The Church On The Way
Van Nuys, California
As an Evangelical Christian and a Faith-Community leader in Los Angeles, I ask that the Dream Act be passed by Congress without further delay. To not do so, would be un-american and unchristian.
My friends, this is a moral and spiritual issue which is facing our society. Although it is also a legal challenge, the moral and spiritual nature of this topic far transcend the other considerations. We must do everything in our power to “do unto others as we would have them do unto us!”
We are Catholics, Protestants and Evangelicals who are gathered here today. We are also Jewish and Muslim, Hindu and Buddhists. We are of every type and stripe. Yet our collective conscience must be guided by these biblical words, “do good unto all people.”
To put this in perspective, our undocumented immigrant student population knows nothing other than the American experience which you and I take for granted. In a sense, they also take it for granted. Afterall, they were brought here as children. They do not know the country of their parents. We should not … we must not deport them, as is happening at this very moment to a second-year student at California State University in Northridge, who is also a member of the church which I pastor and a student to whom I have given scholarship monies.
Andrea is a young woman who came to these shores as a child with her parents, who were seeking political asylum from the dangers of guerilla warfare in their native land. Other than the immigration issue, they have been model residents. Today, the father is detained in jail awaiting deportation. Andrea and her mother have also been arrested. Although Andrea has been released, she is under court order to leave the country immediately. By the way, Andrea is a dean’s list student.
Students like Andrea have excelled! They have achieved success due to their hard work and the very competent help of teachers and administrators. They have been living out the essence of the American dream. Yet, as a country, we are disregarding their achievements by not passing the Dream Act. We must understand that they have no real future without it. They do not have a future here, nor do they have a future in the country of their origin where they know no one.
In a very real way, we are also taking the heart out of this country which was wonderfully created by the immigrants of every previous generation, who were afforded the dignity and opportunity to dream the American dream.
We cannot disregard and limit the future of this country by not passing the Dream Act. We must not take hope away from our students. The Bible states clearly “when hope is taken away, the heart of the people becomes sick.” We must not “sicken” our country; we must not hinder the future of the great nation by further inactivity. To do so would cause us to run the risk of creating a subclass of people and minimizing their worth as God’s children.
It is in the best interests of our country, whether we are Democrat or Republican, to pass the Dream Act. Presidents Reagan, Clinton and Bush all understood the specialness of the immigrant’s arrival to our shores and the many benefits which they bring with them. They all were champions of immigration reform.
In conclusion, please inform and influence your friends; please reach out to your elected officials; by all means, please pray; and in the words of Jesus, “please love your neighbor as yourself” for they were “created in the image of God.” Let’s let hope cause us to dream. Let’s let hope make us healthy!
God bless America and God bless you!