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Statement by Five Mississippi Bishops Regarding Immigration Raids this Week

Five Mississippi bishops, including ELCA Bishop H. Julian Gordy of the Southeastern Synod, made the following statement following this week's raids. I quote the first two paragraphs.

"Raids, such as those conducted on Wednesday in the central part of Mississippi, only serve to, as Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote last month in a letter to President Trump, 'cause the unacceptable suffering of thousands of children and their parents, and create widespread panic in our communities.' We, the undersigned, condemn such an approach, which, as he rightly states, 'has created a climate of fear in our parishes and communities across the United States.'

"To say that immigration reform is a contentious and complex topic would be an understatement. As Christians, within any disagreement we should all be held together by our baptismal promises. Our baptism, regardless of denomination calls us to unity in Jesus Christ. We are his body and, therefore, called to act in love as a unified community for our churches, and for the common good of our local communities and nation. We can stand in solidarity to provide solace, material assistance and strength for the separated and traumatized children, parents and families. Of course, we are committed to a just and compassionate reform to our nation's immigration system, but there is an urgent and critical need at this time to avoid a worsening crisis."

The emphasis on baptism is significant. Churches in the ecumenical movement usually point to their common baptism as their source of unity and reason to speak with one voice.

Baptism is becoming significant for another reason. Except for notable exceptions such as the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, churches which practice infant baptism are becoming more likely to oppose policies of the current administration and those churches which do not practice infant baptism tend to form the base of the president's religious right political base.

Baptism which unites the churches represented by these bishops also divides these churches from other church bodies. A good topic for an adult class would be a discussion of the relationship between grace, infant baptism, and the current political divisions in our country. The theology of baptism is also becoming a source of the division in the United States.

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