When the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) gathers in Houston this week,we are united by a simple symbol: a cross. And like that cross, our shared mission is both vertical and horizontal. Vertically, we stand connected to God and His kingdom. Horizontally, to our left and to our right, we stand connected to family, culture, society and community. The members of our 40,000 Hispanic Evangelical churches in the U.S. care deeply about issues that lie along both these planes, issues such as faith, life, family, religious liberty, education and immigration.
I would like to propose something different for prospective candidates vying for a presidential nomination and courting the Hispanic vote or the Evangelical vote: don’t talk about diversity, talk about inclusion. Don’t talk about opting out, talk about opting in. It’s time to remind Americans that we are not only one nation under God, but we are also a nation of liberty and justice for all.
This Wednesday, over 1,000 Hispanic Evangelical pastors at our national convention will have the opportunity to hear from two Republicans who embrace the Christian conservative ethos of the NHCLC — Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee. While there are any number of “wedge” issues that candidates and their campaign supporters use to distinguish themselves from others, where the candidates stand on immigration and education reform will be critical not just to secure the support of the NHCLC but to reach the constituents of the more than 40,000 Evangelical Hispanic churches we represent. What I would like to hear is how candidates plan to reclaim the mantle of compassionate conservatism in which families and faith come first, and political orthodoxy provides a path to success rather than circles of division.
Our faith requires us to honor the imago dei in every person, enabling each to fulfill the potential God has given them. This holds true for students as much as adults, which is why I support non-federal high education standards which can be compared across states. Hispanic students graduate high school at a rate 10% lower than their white classmates. So many Hispanics fight to make it to the United States, and to see the education system failing our children is unacceptable.