Texas GOP’s immigration law forces us to violate Christ’s teachings on loving our neighbors: Baptists
Pastor John Ogletree (YouTube)

Baptist leaders in Texas are speaking out against Senate Bill 185, which they claim will force them to violate biblical injunctions about welcoming strangers, Baptist News' Ken Camp reports.

The bill, introduced by Republican state Senator Charles Perry, would eliminate "sanctuary cities" where local government and law enforcement agencies, as well as religious organizations, openly violate immigration laws. The bill would ban the adoption of "a rule, order, ordinance, or policy under which the entity prohibits the enforcement of the laws of this state or federal law relating to immigrants and immigration."

If passed, local law enforcement agencies would no longer be able to prevent its officers from asking about the immigration status of individuals being questioned as suspects in or witnesses to a crime.

Moreover, Pastor John Ogletree told the Texas Senate Subcommittee on Border Security earlier this week, "it will bring about racial profiling. The bedrock of community policing is trust [and] having law enforcement act as immigration officials will tear the trust that is already being built in our city and in our county."

"If there is no trust," he continued, "that will be a hindrance in reporting crimes, and this keeps police in the dark about crime patterns and what happens in our neighborhoods, and it will make our neighborhood less safe."

Kathryn Freeman, the director of public policy at the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, agreed, saying that SB 185 "could bring strife and turmoil to many communities that are seeking to do their best to create environments of health, safety and prosperity, and we believe this bill will create an atmosphere of mistrust and fear."

"We do support the rule of law and believe it is critical to the orderly functioning of our society," she added, "but it is equally important that our laws promote justice and fairness for all."

Freeman was particularly incensed by provisions in the bill that would allow individuals to file complaints with the Texas Attorney General's Office if they "suspect that an entity has adopted a rule, order, ordinance, of policy under which the entity prohibits the enforcement" of current state and federal immigration law.

"People may be afraid to attend worship services and Bible studies because they fear being picked up by law enforcement," she said. "We are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, and we believe this bill creates a climate of fear and distrust among neighbors."

Watch Rev. Ogletree speaking against SB 185 below via Texas Impact on YouTube.