Immigration documentary to feature Catholic bishop, other leaders
CHARLOTTE — Bishop Anthony B. Taylor of Little Rock, Ark., will be in Charlotte next week to view and discuss a screening of "Gospel Without Borders," an award-winning documentary that tells the plight of undocumented immigrants in states including Arkansas and North Carolina.
The Sept. 4 screening is being held at St. Peter Church's Biss Hall and is by invitation only because of limited seating.
The immigration documentary aims to separate myth from fact and examines what the Bible says about treatment of the "stranger." It was produced by EthicsDaily.com, a division of the Baptist Center for Ethics in Nashville, Tenn., and funded by a grant from the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas. Bishop Taylor is among the religious leaders featured in the film.
The event at St. Peter Church is about "a moral witness of faith leaders to political leaders about the urgency of addressing immigration reform. Nothing more. Nothing less," said Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics and co-producer of the documentary, in a recent editorial.
The purpose of the event is to provide a witness of Christian leaders to political leaders about the moral imperative to prioritize the plight of undocumented immigrants, Parham said.
"We want this to be a moral challenge to the Obama administration and to Democratic officials," he said.
Bishop Taylor will participate in a panel discussion with two other religious leaders, highlighting the need for all Christians to engage on this issue. The other panelists are Minerva Carcaño, bishop of the Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church, and Julian Gordy, bishop of the Southeastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Clifford Jones, pastor of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Charlotte, will welcome delegates, party officials, members of the faith community and others. Also attending will be an interviewee in the documentary: Hector Villanueva, a bivocational Baptist pastor associated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina.
"Gospel Without Borders" focuses on the intersection of faith and immigration, highlighting stories of undocumented Christians living in Arizona, Arkansas, North Carolina, Alabama and Iowa. It depicts how Catholics, Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians address immigration from a faith-based perspective, without delving into the partisan divide on the issue.
"This is one of the major areas where human rights are violated in our country," Bishop Taylor said in a 2011 article in Arkansas Catholic, the newspaper of the Little Rock Diocese. "The Church is very clear on its teaching regarding the human rights of immigrants. In the general population there's a lot of fear and a lot of misinformation about immigration, much of it misinformation that is coming from vitriolic things and demagogues who demonize immigrants and magnify single incidents as if they are somehow representative of the larger reality of immigration."
"This is not intended to be a political effort," Bishop Taylor said. "Our role is to preach the truth in season and out of season."
Bishop Taylor, who has worked more than 25 years in Hispanic ministry, was interviewed in the documentary about his leadership on the issue.
"Jesus in Matthew 25 in His parable, 'The Last Judgment,' says that we will be judged on the welcome we give or do not give the stranger," he said. "He makes it clear that we will be judged on how we treat the stranger in our midst. I'm trying to get as many people into heaven as I possibly can."
— Patricia L. Guilfoyle, editor
To view a clip from "Gospel Without Borders," order copies of the DVD, and download a free discussion guide about the film, go to www.gospelwithoutborders.net.