If all one knew about immigration came from cable-TV clips of Republican presidential contenders promising a crackdown on the undocumented, and newspaper articles about court challenges to anti-immigration laws, one might conclude that the faith community is passive about one of the country’s hot-button issues.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Mostly beyond the secular media’s radar is a quiet educational effort in churches to address immigration from a moral perspective.

During the fall of 2011, some 12 public screenings and a number of local church viewings were held of GospelWithoutBorders, a documentary on faith and immigration produced by EthicsDaily.com.

That initiative continues in 2012.

The Nashville-based Clergy for Tolerance is sponsoring on Jan. 24 at Loews Hotel a screening and panel discussion for Tennessee clergy. The screening is a follow-up to CFT’s Nov. 30 immigration breakfast that drew some 300 faith leaders.

Program leaders will include Julian Gordy, bishop of the Southeastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; and Frank Lewis, pastor of First Baptist Church of Nashville. Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics, will moderate the panel discussion.

CFT is an interfaith coalition that works to educate and mobilize faith leaders about the issue of immigration. It played a role in 2009 to defeat an English-only referendum in Nashville.

The group requests registration for the two-hour event, which will feature the short version (30 minutes) of the documentary. A longer version (53 minutes) in four segments is also included on the DVD.

Four days after the Nashville screening, the Catholic women’s fellowship at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Fayetteville, Ark., willscreen the documentary.

Third Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Va., began a four-part viewing Jan. 8.

Sardis Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., continues its four-part documentary screening Jan. 11.

Central Congregation, a United Church of Christ in Atlanta, is using the documentary in a six-week adult educational series that began Jan. 8.

Piney Grove Baptist Church in Mount Airy, N.C., has called for volunteers to organize a community screening and discussion, and Mars Hill College in North Carolina has a screening planned in early February.

More than 5,000 copies of the DVD were distributed in 2011, including to Catholic and Methodist bishops.

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