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CBF’s Paynter, religious leaders meet with Obama to press for common sense immigration reform

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April 15, 2014

By Jeff Huett and Aaron Weaver

DECATUR, Ga. – Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter was among a small group of faith leaders who met in the Oval Office Tuesday to speak with President Barack Obama about the efforts of the religious community to support immigration reform and ask that he keep the issue front and center. The faith leaders shared with the president stories about the impact the failure to fix the immigration system has on families in their congregations and communities.

The president told the leaders that while his administration can take steps to better enforce and administer immigration laws, nothing can replace the certainty of legislative reform and this permanent solution can only be achieved by Congress.

Paynter expressed her support for congressional action on immigration reform.

“It’s time to retool our laws for immigration,” Paynter said.  “We can meet as a country at the intersection of moral conscience and common sense and pass reform.

“Congress has the tools to act and, as people of conviction, people of faith in the U.S. are in agreement that common sense measures can be taken,” she said.  “There is a place to honor the God-given dignity of persons, honor the rule of law, ensure fairness to taxpayers, and seek a path towards recognition for immigrants.”

The leaders participate in the Evangelical Immigration Table, a broad coalition of evangelical organizations and leaders advocating for immigration reform consistent with biblical values. Participants have called for a bipartisan solution on immigration that respects the God-given dignity of every person, protects the unity of the immediate family and respects the rule of law. They advocate secure national borders, fairness to taxpayers and establishing a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents.

The meeting included Russell Moore of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; and JoAnne Lyon, General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church.

Other leaders participating in the meeting were Noel Castellanos, the CEO of the Christian Community Development Association; Dieter Uchtdorf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; and Luis Cortes, the President of Esperanza.

Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s senior advisor and Melissa Rogers, executive director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, were also present.


CBF is a fellowship of Baptist Christians and churches who share a passion for the Great Commission and a commitment to Baptist principles of faith and practice. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission. Learn more about CBF at

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