A somewhat surprising contingent is emerging to support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants: evangelical Christians. Next week, about 300 evangelical leaders will lobby politicians in Washington and urge sweeping changes to US immigration policy, the Wall Street Journal reports. Though many Christians are socially conservative, pastors are increasingly preaching that the Bible supports a path to citizenship—consider, for example, the verse that says, "I was a stranger and you invited me in."
A recent survey found that 55% of white evangelicals think immigrants are a burden on the country, down from 66% in 2010. Of course, the attitude shift has caught some churchgoers by surprise. When California pastor Kenton Beshore first started preaching on the subject, "We had people who walked out and whose giving went away," he says. But many members are getting used to the idea, some of them shifting their opinions after volunteering directly with immigrants. Says one, "I started to look at these folks through a prism of humanity and my heart just opened up."