Bill Donohue calls Alabama’s immigration law ‘morally reprehensible’

Almost always the threat to religious liberty comes from the Democrats. The recent contraception mandate from Obama’s HHS is proof of that.

But it seems that the Republicans in Alabama are willing to step on religious liberty, too. And in the process they threaten the GOP’s effort to win over Catholic and Hispanic voters.

Bill Donohue explains the absurd immigration law in Alabama that could prosecute nuns providing food to illegal immigrants or even a priest providing Sacraments:

When the bill was first introduced last March, its author, State Senator Scott Beason, did not allow for religious exemptions. In practical terms, this meant that “harboring” an illegal alien could be interpreted as administering the Sacraments, as well as providing material assistance. In April, an amendment was introduced by Senate Minority Leader Roger Bedford to prevent the criminalization of certain religious activities. In May, it passed in the Senate and was then forwarded to the House. When the bill reappeared on June 2, the Bedford amendment was stricken from it. The bill was then approved.

It is not every day that the Catholic League is on the same side as the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Obama administration and the New York Times. But I hasten to add that those who are also protesting the bill are the Catholic bishops of Alabama, the Episcopal Church, the Methodist Church, and others. We are grateful for the information provided to us by John Whitaker, the attorney who represents the Birmingham diocese, which is ably led by Bishop Robert Baker.

The idea of punishing the clergy for doing what they are called to do—servicing those in need independent of any condition—is morally reprehensible and constitutionally offensive. Let the Alabama lawmakers rewrite the law, allowing for the kinds of religious exemptions stipulated by the Bedford amendment.

I’ll admit my own bias here. My aunt is Franciscan nun. I am certain that on many political issues, we find ourselves in disagreement. But I applaud her for providing water and food to prevent a person from dying in the Arizona desert. That’s exactly what the dignity of the human person demands of us. But if she were in Alabama, she could be prosecuted. This is madness.

Conservatives have long complained about the dangers of allowing millions of Americans enter into our country illegally. It’s not good for the illegal immigrant because they live in the shadows and can get exploited by unscrupulous landlords and employers. It’s also not good for social order to have millions of people living in constant fear of deportation.

We desperately need a solution to this problem. I think it starts with a secure border. Perhaps then we consider guest worker visas but not automatic citizenship.

But the failure of the federal government to secure our border is no excuse for Alabama to criminalize priests and nuns from fulfilling the commandment to minister to those in need.



  • george wells

    Bill Donohue calls Alabama’s immigration law ‘morally reprehensible’

    What he is saying is that white people should embrace their own genocide. A white christian should not resist the conquest of his native land to immigrants, that the heritage of his children should be given to others.

    Africa for Africans, Asia for Asians, White Countries for Everybody

    Annihilation by Assimilation
    Every white country on earth is supposed to become multicultural and multiracial. EVERY white country is expected to end its own race and end its own culture. No one asks that of ANY non-white country.
    The Netherlands is more crowded than Japan, Belgium is more crowded than Taiwan, but nobody says Japan or Taiwan will solve the RACE problem by bringing in millions of third-worlders and assimilating and intermarrying with them.
    Everybody says the final solution to the RACE problem is for EVERY white country and ONLY white countries to bring in the third world and assimilate with them.

    Immigration, tolerance, and especially assimilation are being used against the white race.
    ll this immigration and intermarriage is for EVERY white country and ONLY white countries.
    Anti-white is called anti-racist, but it leads to the disappearance of one race and only one race, the white race.

    It is genocide.

  • Justin

    Religious exemptions now

  • Ryan Haber

    Right, as far as I can tell, Joshua Mercer’s point in this article is that the law criminalizes providing material aid to people who are in the U.S. illegally. Especially when their lives are in danger, this law is immoral and must be disobeyed by any right-thinking adult. We are all answerable to a justice that transcends mere legislation. Christians, who have the revealed will of God and know more clearly the standard by which we are judged (cf. Mt 25) have a more profound obligation to violate and perhaps even to publicly flout this law in order to show its criminality. That was Mercer’s point, I think, or closer to it. The causes and origins of illegal immigration are entirely aside from the point.

  • Matt

    In reading of this law, it is easy to fall back on the assumption that the state might not actually pursue enforcement on priests and nuns fulfilling a common good. Do not be so sure. The Church is very weak in Alabama, with many still believing Catholics to not be “Christians”, but some mystical cult with strict laws that supercede or contradict scripture. It is not uncommon in northern Alabama even in the past decade for a priest to cover three or more parishes over the weekend to distribute the sacraments. If a priest is ill or on vacation, a monastic priest may be the only cleric available. The county I live in has only a single Catholic church. The Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama considers itself a “missionary” diocese, hardly the footprint most Catholics in other parts of the country are accustomed to.

    I myself am shocked that Bedford would make this amendment to the law. His track record makes me curious to know what his motives are for this, and any association with the Church would only be seen as a detriment to his reelection (which was soundly challenged in the last election).

    Bishop Baker has been curiously quiet since his installment in Alabama, speaking usually through subordinates or in conjunction with other bishops. Baker has demonstrated awesome political courage in past assignments (public statement of denial of sacrament to any politicians in the diocese who prove contrary to church teaching in their public office), but his voice has been much softer since the move to Alabama. Whether his voice is louder, or even present, on EWTN (based in Alabama) I cannot say; he is nonexistent on media consumed by the bulk of the state (granted, likely through no fault of his own!). What many may not realize is that there is a large and growing population of Hispanic origin in the state, legal and otherwise, and I do not doubt Baker has the courage, moral and political, to claim them all as his own.

  • Mark


    When you say “allowing millions of Americans enter into our country illegally”. What is your definition of American. If by American you mean North American I fail to see the relevance I have never met anyone from Canada, Mexico, Central America or South America who refers to themselves as “American”. If by American you mean one who lives here in our country I do not think those who live here illegally should be given that title American. Only those who are here legally or a born here are given that right.

    • Joshua Mercer

      Mark, it was a typo. I meant to say “allowing millions of persons to enter into our country illegally.”

      • Mark

        Thanks for the clarification! I Figured as much. Apologies if I came off a bit rough or attacking. Kinda a touchy spot for me.



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