any of the nation's Protestant senior pastors want the U.S. government to mix justice with mercy when it comes to immigration reform, a LifeWay Research survey shows.
Most say it's the government's job to stop people from entering the country illegally. They also support reform that includes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country.
And they believe Christians should help immigrants, no matter what their legal status.
Those are among the findings of a new survey of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors. The survey was conducted prior to the mid-term elections.
Scott McConnell, vice president of Nashville-based LifeWay Research, said pastors don't approve of illegal immigration. But they want to help illegal immigrants make things right. "This is one of many cases in which Christians can look at those around them and say, 'I don't agree with what got you to this place in life, but I will love you while you are here,' " McConnell said.
Nearly six in 10 Protestant senior pastors (58 percent) agree with the statement: "I am in favor of immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for those who are currently in the country illegally." About a third (34 percent) disagrees. Seven percent are not sure.
Most African-American pastors (80 percent) agree, as do a majority of White pastors (59 percent). Two-thirds (68 percent) of mainline pastors and more than half (54 percent) of evangelical pastors also favor a path to citizenship.
Pastors of mid-sized churches are more likely to agree than those from small churches. Two-thirds (66 percent) of pastors of churches with between 100 and 249 attenders agree. About half (54 percent) of pastors with less than 50 people in their congregation agree.
Two-thirds (63 percent) of pastors under age 45 favor a pathway, as do a little over half (55 percent) of those ages 45-54.
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