Evangelicals who minister to and among the undocumented call the state’s proposal “an assault to religious liberty.”
Churches may face criminal penalties for giving undocumented immigrants rides to worship services and Bible studies if a bill before the Florida state legislature becomes law. A diverse coalition of church leaders in the Sunshine State is calling the bill a threat to religious freedom.
“It’s heartbreaking that this assault to religious liberty has been proposed,” said Myal Green, president and CEO of the evangelical humanitarian organization World Relief, “a proposal that would criminalize sharing the love of Jesus with some of the most vulnerable people in society.”
During a press conference hosted by World Relief and the Evangelical Immigration Table last Thursday, Florida church and ministry leaders detailed what they believe will be chilling effects on churches if Senate Bill 1718 is signed into law.
Not only could transportation to church events be in jeopardy, the seven local leaders said, but also churches’ ministries of transporting immigrants to hospitals, doctors’ appointments, attorneys’ offices, and schools. Churches with bus ministries could run particular risk.
With an estimated 700,000 undocumented immigrants in Florida, the legislation’s impact could be broad.
Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition and an Orlando Assemblies of God pastor, said he has contacted Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’s office about SB 1718, and a group of Hispanic evangelicals delivered letters of concern to the governor’s office. So far, however, they have not received a response.
“I haven’t heard from them,” Salguero told CT. “I don’t even know if they have considered the impact of this possible legislation. I …