A new study from Lifeway Research finds that the majority of evangelicals believe that legal immigration is helpful to the U.S. and should at least maintain, if not increase, the number of legal immigrants allowed into the country. That said, the study also found that there are substantial numbers of evangelicals in the U.S. who see immigrants as a threat.
“Evangelical Christians should be looking to the Bible—not any political party’s platform, media personalities or even a survey of fellow evangelicals—to determine how they respond to the arrival of immigrants to their communities,” Matthew Soerens, national coordinator of the Evangelical Immigration Table, said in a press release. “But as evangelical leaders seek both to disciple those under their care and to advocate for public policies consistent with biblical principles, this study allows leaders to verify the extent their positions are in line with the views of evangelicals ‘in the pews’ and to know how to better serve them.”
The study, which was sponsored by Evangelical Immigration Table and World Relief, surveyed both self-described evangelicals and those who qualify as evangelicals according to their beliefs. They found that evangelicals are a little more likely to see immigrants as an opportunity than a threat, but a substantial number of evangelicals do remain pretty scared of immigrants.
Specifically, 46 percent of evangelicals say new immigrants provide an opportunity to show love and 41 percent say it’s an opportunity to tell them about Jesus (a nice thought, though about 68 percent of immigrants who come to the U.S. are already Christian).
However, 33 percent of evangelicals say immigrants are a threat to the safety of citizens. Moreover, 32 percent say they’re a drain on resources, 31 percent say they’re a threat to law and order and 26 percent of evangelicals say they are a “threat to traditional American customs and culture.”
In other words, yes, evangelicals are most likely to say they want to welcome and love immigrants, but there are substantial numbers of evangelicals who buy into the panicky rhetoric about immigrants being bad for the country.
“While fear of the volume of immigrants is not absent among evangelicals, the larger response is one of love for these individuals,” Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, said in a press release. “More than four times as many evangelicals find legal immigration helpful to the United States than those who find it harmful.”
You can read the full report here.