In Tuesday night’s debate of the Republican Presidential candidates, Newt Gingrich said he would give amnesty to immigrants that are currently living in the United States with some conditions. In part, he said:
"If you've been here 25 years and you've got three kids and two grandkids, you've been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, I don't think we're going to separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully and kick you out," he said.
The part of the answer that says, “…you belong to a local church…” is the most troubling. The United States has offered amnesty to illegal immigrants since the early 1800s. The latest offer from Gingrich to provide amnesty to those living here in good standing is nothing new. I also, don’t believe, like Gingrich, that we should tear apart families and the lives of others by booting them out of the country.
But, by adding the local church part, Gingrich is appling a religious test that clearly shouldn't be a part of the conditions. In the Constitution it states in very clear words that there should be no religious test given to anyone that will hold office or a position of public trust. Why, then, should a religious test to be applied to illegal immigrants that would be allowed to stay in the country for all other reasons? Church of course, means a Christian religion. Why shouldn’t it apply to Jews that join a synagogue, Muslims that join a mosque or, how about atheists that join a humanist temple? The religious affiliation, or lack of, should not be part of the selection criteria for people that would be allowed to stay.
Gingrich is wrong to think that a religious test of any kind should be given. That applies illegal immigrants that will be granted amnesty or anyone else that will arrive at our shores.