The Corner

The one and only.

Pew vs. Pulpit


A new Zogby poll, conducted for the Center for Immigration Studies, is out today looking at the immigration preferences of religious voters, which we compared to the official positions of the denominations they belong to. It looked at the views of Catholics, mainline Protestants, born-again Protestants, and Jews (likely voters), and found the same huge gap between elite and public opinion on immigration as other research has explored.

The three Christian groups had remarkably similar views, with born-agains slightly more hawkish and Catholics slightly more dovish, as you’d expect; in any case, overwhelming majorities thought overall immigration was too high and preferred attirition over legalization as a way to deal with the current illegal population. While Jews were most permissive, again as expected, even there a plurality preferred attrition, and ten times more said immigration was too high as opposed to too low. These views are the opposite of the leadership of the various denominations, which uniformly, and with increasing stridency, support amnesty and increased immigration.

We kind of knew a lot of this — the leftist tilt of religious bureaucracies is notorious, what with the pink fringe of Methodism and the like. But what was a little surprising were results of two other questions, where the parishioners displayed more solidarity with low-skilled American workers than their ostentatiously compassionate leaders.

Overwhelming majorities of all groups thought illegal immigration was caused by inadequate enforcement rather than by limits on legal immigration, and also that there are plenty of American workers to fill low-skilled jobs, if the wages and working conditions were improved, as opposed to needing to increase legal immigration. On both of these questions, the official positions of the religious leadership improbably parrots the Chamber of Commerce line that illegal immigration is an unstoppable force because there are jobs Americans won’t do. I can see why they’d support amnesty, but why they’ve become sock-puppets for big business is beyond me.

One assumes that religious leaders already know a lot of this and don’t care, seeing themselves as more enlightened (even “anointed,” as Sowell might put it!) than their benighted and atavistic followers. But clearly no congressmen should pay any attention to the immigration pronouncments of denominational leaders who speak for no one but themselves.


Sign up for free NR e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review