Corporate Media's Go-To 'Expert' on Latino Evangelicals Actually a Right-Wing Political Operative
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The organization is, however, small and low-budget. While it has many prominent partners and well publicized efforts to promote comprehensive immigration reform, it has few organizational activities. NHCLC’s reach, too, may be exaggerated. Journalist Sarah Posner points out the NHCLC’s numbers may be grossly inflated since only 6.5 million Latinos in the United States, about 13 percent of the country’s Latinos population, identify as evangelical, according to data collected by the Pew Hispanic Center.
But it is also true that the NHCLC’s core constituency is growing. A 2007 Pew study found that Pentecostal and charismatic "renewalism" is three times more prevalent among Latinos than it is among non-Latinos. What’s more, a majority of Latino Catholics describe themselves as charismatics. This makes Rodriguez’s claim to be the spokesman for this growing constituency all the more deserving of greater scrutiny.
Rodriguez's main claim to fame is his work with two presidents towards greater fairness in U.S. immigration policy. He has gone so far as to publicly denounce nativism, xenophobiam and mean-spiritedness among elements of the conservative movement and of the Republican Party. However, in addition to conventional Christian and human rights reasons for a more just policy towards immigration policy and immigrants, Rodriguez also has controversial motives. He sees, for example, the immigration of evangelical Christian Latinos as part of the salvation and replenishment of Christian America, and as a bulwark against Islam. Perhaps most revealing is how, for Rodriguez, immigration is nevertheless a decidedly secondary concern. Shortly after the inauguration of President Barack Obama in early 2009, for example, Rodriguez participated in the creation and release of a highly publicized document, Come Let Us Reason Together: A Fresh Look at Shared Cultural Values Between Evangelicals and Progressives. The several signatories announced they had crafted a “Governing Agenda” proposal for the new Democratic president and Congress, including “creating secure and comprehensive immigration reform.” But only a few months later Rodriguez told Charisma magazine that he believed NHCLC had “misplaced its priorities by emphasizing immigration over the sanctity of life and traditional marriage.”
“Immigration is one of God's values,” Rodriguez said. “But when we have to prioritize, if we are faithful to life and marriage, God's going to be faithful to making sure we get comprehensive immigration reform." Rodriguez's comment came on the occasion of his joining Democratic State Senator Reuben Diaz (who is also a Pentecostal minister) in rallying Hispanic Christians against marriage equality in New York.
Prioritize: Vote Vertical
“This is not an issue of equality,” Rodriguez said regarding marriage equality on a radio show in May 2012. “There is an attempt to silence the voice of Christianity, there is an attempt to silence the voice of truth, of righteousness and Biblical justice.
Although the Lamb’s Agenda is supposed to require both bars of the cross, Rodriguez said, “We must vote vertical. We must look at our legislators and those that represent us on Capitol Hill and say, ‘Religious liberty, the family, biblical marriage and life, must stand protected.”
As off message as it sounds for those who view him as a bridge-builder, Rodriguez's real views should come as no surprise. A frequent headliner at Christian Right political conferences, Rodriguez was featured, for example, at regional election year conferences hosted by veteran Christian Right televangelist James Robison in the summer of 2012. At the Dallas conference, which drew some 7,000 participants, Rodriguez declared: “The 21st century stands poised to experience the greatest transformative Christian movement in our history.” He denounced such demonic spirits as Jezebel, which he says push people into “sexual perversion,” and the spirit of Herod, which he says is responsible for abortion. “This movement will affirm biblical orthodoxy,” he declared. “It will reform the culture. It will transform our political discourse. I am convinced God is not done with America and America is not done with God.”