This is not surprising and the Baptists are up front about the reason for their support; more and more Hispanics are leaving the Catholic church and turning to evangelical protestantism.
The ad buy will feature radio ads and billboards in 13 states featuring pastors urging people to support the ongoing efforts in Congress to pass an immigration bill that would allow the nation's 11 million unauthorized immigrants to apply for U.S. citizenship, strengthen border security and revamp the legal immigration system.
Russell Moore, who will take over as head of the Southern Baptist's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission on Saturday, said they are more aggressive this time around because more immigrants have joined their congregations, giving members a better understanding of who they are. And he said it reflects a broader acceptance of granting citizenship to unauthorized immigrants among conservative Americans that should be embraced by Republican critics in Congress.
"Our involvement signals the fact that we don't see this as a blue state, red state, culture war question," Moore said. "When you have people of courage and goodwill, such as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is heroically working to craft legislation that is fair and just, I think it's very difficult to pigeonhole this into the easy left-right categories we're accustomed to."
Rubio is part of a bipartisan group of senators known as the Gang of Eight that wrote an immigration bill that has cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee. The full Senate is expected to start debating the bill in early June, just as a bipartisan group of members of the House are trying to finalize their own version of an immigration bill.
Despite the push by the evangelical leaders, many conservatives remain opposed to overhaul efforts.
There are still far more conservative groups who oppose immigration reform than support it. One big player, NumbersUSA, is also spending a large amount of money on TV and radio ad buys in 18 states and their leader, Roy Beck, thinks that the Baptists are out of touch with their rank and file:
"What this shows is a few of them getting together and finding some money," Beck said.
And while the evangelical leaders are encouraging people to support an immigration overhaul partly out of a moral obligation to help unauthorized immigrants, Beck said that guidance is misdirected.
"They're looking at the illegal aliens and saying, 'We want to feel compassion,'" Beck said. "But they're not offering one bit of compassion to the 20 million Americans who are unemployed. It's not moral leadership to do that."
It seems myopic to believe that this isn't a cultural issue, or a red/blue issue. Most Americans see it that way and while the Baptists may wish otherwise, immigration reform will remain a political issue with a clear divide between the two sides on what should be done about it.
Note: American Thinker retracts the original title, "Southern Baptist Convention to spend $250 thousand to promote immigration reform" because we are informed that the funds in question did not come from the Southern Baptism Conference itself. We regret the error.