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God’s Heart Has No Borders

God’s Heart Has No Borders: How Religious Activists Are Working for Immigrant Rights

Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 1
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    God’s Heart Has No Borders
    Book Description:

    In this timely and compelling account of the contribution to immigrant rights made by religious activists in post-1965 and post-9/11 America, Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo provides a comprehensive, close-up view of how Muslim, Christian, and Jewish groups are working to counter xenophobia. Against the hysteria prevalent in today's media, in which immigrants are often painted as a drain on the public coffers, inherently unassimilable, or an outright threat to national security, Hondagneu-Sotelo finds the intersection between migration and religion and calls attention to quieter voices, those dedicated to securing the human dignity of newcomers. Based on years of fieldwork conducted in California's major centers as well as in Chicago, this book considers Muslim Americans defending their civil liberties after 9/11, Christian activists responding to death and violence at the U.S-Mexico border, and Christian and Jewish clergy defending the labor rights of Latino immigrants. At a time when much attention has been given to religious fundamentalism and its capacity to incite violent conflict,God's Heart Has No Bordersrevises our understanding of the role of religion in social movements and demonstrates the nonviolent power of religious groups to address social injustices.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94244-8
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. ONE Welcoming the Alien?
    (pp. 1-24)

    In the spring of 2006, millions of people across the United States took to the streets in what became the largest immigrant rights mobilization this country has ever seen. In downtown Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York, and in hundreds of smaller cities throughout the nation, immigrants marched through the streets to protest a federal bill that would, among other things, make it a felony to aid undocumented immigrants. Dressed in white to symbolize peace and carrying American flags, the protestors raised their collective voices to demand legalization reform that would resolve the legal limbo of the estimated...


    • TWO Muslim American Immigrants after 9 /11: THE STRUGGLE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS
      (pp. 27-52)

      There is a new movement to make people in Muslim, Arab, and South Asian immigrant communities become politically engaged and informed American citizens, but unlike the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, religion is delicately interwoven into these current efforts. I was introduced to part of this movement on a bright Saturday morning in December 2002 when two thousand people convened at the gargantuan Long Beach Convention Center for the annual convention of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). The large convention halls, the registration desks, the speakers dressed in expensive suits and business attire, and the prominent...

    • THREE The Moderate Mainstream
      (pp. 53-70)

      Muslim American immigrant organizations responded to the post-9/11 backlash leveled at their communities through public engagement, civic participation, and outreach to their own communities and beyond. In all these efforts, they put forth an image of community members as moderate, mainstream, middle-of-the-road, middle-class Muslims.¹ In this chapter, I examine this image. Based on what leaders of these organizations told me and what I observed of their organizations’ activities, I came to see four dimensions to this collective Muslim American—and sometimes, more expansively, Middle Eastern, Arab, and South Asian—identity project: (1) showing involvement with national domestic issues; (2) promoting...


    • FOUR Take Your Good Friday to the Streets!
      (pp. 73-103)

      In a church hall in South Los Angeles, during a breakfast meeting held by clergy and laity concerned about the plight of the working poor in Los Angeles, Reverend Dick Gillet, a pale, retired Episcopal minister wearing a clerical collar and a gray tweed jacket, stepped to the podium. Speaking into the microphone, he urged those in attendance—who were mostly dressed in street clothes, with a few clerical collars present—to contact their city council representatives and to tell their congregations about the need to support low-wage workers in their struggle for dignity, justice, and a living wage. “Sign...

    • FIVE Faith in the Union
      (pp. 104-130)

      “A new movement, an old commandment, or both?” This was the question printed in big bold type on the envelope of a mass mailing from the Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) during spring 2006, when millions of people marched nationwide in massive rallies in support of immigrant rights. The accompanying letter, sent to supporters nationwide, cited the Leviticus quote that is reproduced above and informed readers that many immigrant workers lost their jobs for participating in the marches. It also listed the different ways in which IWJ participated in the “emerging social justice movement” for immigrant rights.¹ “We must stand with...


    • SIX Enacting Christian Antiborderism
      (pp. 133-150)

      It’s the third Saturday in December, just days before Christmas, and several hundred people have gathered at a desolate spot in San Ysidro, California, where the fence dividing the United States from Mexico extends into the Pacific Ocean. Like a razor,la líneacuts sharply through hilly, rocky terrain and parts the sea. The fence, however, lacks biblical legitimacy, and it’s a big, ugly thing. But on a chilly December evening, the beachfront sunset panorama, with its pink and lavender skies and silvery blue slice of ocean, is among the most beautiful I have ever seen. This is a relatively...

    • SEVEN Jesus Would Stand at the Border and Would Not Accept It
      (pp. 151-169)

      The Posada sin Fronteras symbolically enacts Christian antiborderism both across the U.S.-Mexico border and across the boundaries of race and ethnicity. It is not solely a political or a religious event but is a hybrid, combining political protest and religious ritual. Protestors rely on symbols, ideas, and beliefs that resonate with participants, and religion and ethnicity provide fertile soil for these symbolic and ideological resources. In the section below, I underscore how symbols and rituals from distinctively Mexican and Catholic traditions mesh with interdenominational Christian beliefs to galvanize moral voice against U.S. border policies.

      Perhaps this posada’s most striking sociological...

    • EIGHT Religious Rule or Religious Voices?
      (pp. 170-196)

      Should religion rule? To what extent should religion and faith-based morality and resources inform public policies and decisions? Societies around the globe are grappling with these questions. In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, religion has emerged as a force with which governments must contend. Regardless of whatever beliefs we may hold, secular sociologists and intellectuals can no longer pretend to live in a godless world, for as the early Chicago school sociologist W. I. Thomas observed, once we “define our situation as real, they are real in their consequences.” The United States is defined daily as a God-saturated...

  8. APPENDIX: Research Methods
    (pp. 197-202)
  9. Notes
    (pp. 203-224)
  10. References
    (pp. 225-236)
  11. List of Interviews
    (pp. 237-240)
  12. Index
    (pp. 241-251)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 252-252)