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The Question

Earlier this summer the state of Alabama enacted a new immigration enforcement law considered the toughest in the nation. Opposition has been vast and vocal, and legal challenges have flowed in from the ACLU, the Justice Department, and now four local religious leaders.

An Episcopal bishop, a Methodist bishop and a Roman Catholic archbishop and bishop, all based in Alabama, sued on the basis that the new statute violated their right to free exercise of religion, arguing that it would “make it a crime to follow God’s command to be Good Samaritans.”

The law makes it a crime to transport, harbor or rent property to people who are known to be in the country illegally, and it renders any contracts with illegal immigrants null. To some church leaders — who say they will not be able to give people rides, invite them to worship services or perform marriages and baptisms — the law essentially criminalizes basic parts of Christian ministry.

Does this new law violate Alabama citizens’ religious freedom? Why or why not?

American Greatness Tarnished

Kevin James

It is ever a dangerous thing for governments to draft and pass legislation that renders any social service illegal to some select minority. Humanity, legally in the country or not, demands a respectful and dignified treatment of their very real creature needs.

Church and the New National Security State

Alan J. Reinach

When the law over reaches, and makes everyone a criminal, no one is safe. We become helpless pawns at the mercy of the national security state.

Strangers in a Strange Land

Alan E. Brownstein

To the extent that this Alabama law prohibits clergy obedient to these commands from ministering to the spiritual needs of strangers in their land, it violates the religious freedom of Alabama citizens.

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