The Economist calls Dr. Albert Mohler “one of America’s most influential Evangelicals.” As chief executive officer and president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) in Louisville, Kentucky—the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world—he oversees an institution with 5,000 students from 63 different countries and a budget of $50 million dollars, which generates more than a quarter-billion dollars a year in direct economic impact to Louisville’s local economy. He believes immigration reform is vital for our country’s economy.
“The growth of the economy depends upon an expanding base of workers and consumers,” says Mohler. “Given falling birth rates in western nations, the influx of immigrants is crucial to the future of our economy.”
The Christian Church has a particular moral concern for issues of immigration because we bear responsibility not only to ourselves and our own family… but to the larger public good.
Mohler believes the United States must control its borders but says our current immigration policies are “woefully out of date.” As he explains, “We are unable to retain many of the most highly educated and highly motivated immigrants because of quota systems and limitations established by the existing legislation. So we can have the best and brightest from around the world come to the United States to study in our institutions, invest in them [through] expensive educational programs that are the envy of the world, but then many of them cannot continue here to contribute to America’s future. That’s a problem.”
Mohler moved to Louisville in 1980 to enroll in SBTS, where he received his master’s of divinity and Ph.D. After more than 30 years, he’s witnessed the area’s Cuban immigrants grow into the city’s largest non-English-speaking group. He says this community has created an important boost for the local economy. “There are now Cuban groceries, bakeries, and restaurants,” says Mohler. “That did not exist in the Louisville imagination just a half a decade ago.”
Of course, to Mohler, the economic advantages of reform also have religious benefits. “The Christian Church has a particular moral concern for issues of immigration because we bear responsibility not only to ourselves and our own family, not only to our own community, but to the larger public good,” says Mohler. “That should lead Christians to the forefront of calling for immigration reform.”