Persistent rumors linking the Evangelical Immigration Table—and, indirectly, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission—to progressive billionaire George Soros prompted Baptist Press to publish a Jan. 9 “explainer” disputing those claims.
The question-and-answer article carried by the SBC Executive Committee’s information service particularly cites a story appearing on breitbart.com—the far-right syndicated website—that credited the Evangelical Immigration Table with “persuading multiple governors to allow refugees to resettle in their states.”
A Dec. 11 article on that website asserts, “Executives at World Relief and the Evangelical Immigration Table—an organization with links to the Soros-funded National Immigration Forum—have been lobbying governors across the country to bring more refugees to their states.”
Blogs seek to link ERLC to Soros
The Baptist Press article stated: “A number of blogs have circulated those rumors, charging the group and those affiliated with it as advancing an ‘open borders’ mass immigration agenda. Those claims have proved to be false.”
One such website claimed Soros “has bought and paid for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.”
Another alleged ERLC President Russell Moore “has been bought by leftist elites and is being used to advance a leftist agenda.” That article asserted, “It is a fact—not hearsay—but fact that Russell Moore accepts money from George Soros through his Evangelical Immigration Table.”
While the rumors proliferated in recent weeks, elaborate conspiracy theories linking the Evangelical Immigration Table and its partner organizations to Soros date back at least six years, when the Evangelical Immigration Table bought advertising supporting immigration reform.
Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, told the Christian Post at that time, “No funding from George Soros has been used by the Evangelical Immigration Table.”
The Baptist Press question-and-answer article notes the Evangelical Immigration Table is supported by the National Immigration Forum. The Open Society Foundations, founded by Soros, provided a grant to the National Immigration Forum.
“However, the grant in question represented just 2 percent of National Immigration Forum’s overall budget, and further, EIT has never received or utilized any money from either George Soros or a Soros foundation,” the Baptist Press article states. “Additionally, the ERLC never has funded or been funded by EIT or NIF.”
The article also adds that the ERLC “never has received funding from Soros.”
Evangelical Immigration Table draws wide support
Baptist Press quoted Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum: “Quite simply, there has never been a single penny from George Soros that has gone toward the work of the Evangelical Immigration Table.”
The Evangelical Immigration Table is a coalition of partnering organizations and individuals committed to a bipartisan solution on immigration. According to the group’s statement of principles, the coalition is committed to advocating for a solution that “respects the God-given dignity of every person, protects the unity of the immediate family, respects the rule of law, guarantees secure national borders, ensures fairness to taxpayers, and establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents” in the United States.
“The ERLC frequently participates with coalition groups on issues important to Southern Baptists,” the Baptist Press article states. “ERLC’s work with a coalition does not signify agreement with the other coalition members on every issue.
“As such, the ERLC continues to work with other members of EIT to advocate for a solution to immigration reform. The ERLC originally partnered with EIT under the leadership of then-president Richard Land, partly in response to the Southern Baptist Convention’s 2011 resolution, ‘On Immigration and the Gospel,’ which called for a just and compassionate solution to immigration reform.
“Messengers to the 2018 SBC annual meeting likewise passed a resolution ‘On Immigration,’ and current ERLC president Russell Moore has remained part of the coalition, advocating for immigration reform as stated in both the 2011 and 2018 resolutions.”
Ironically, a prominent voice citing the alleged links to Soros—and blurring distinctions between the National Immigration Forum, the Evangelical Immigration Table and the ERLC—in recent months has been Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes, a former reporter for Baptist Press.
“Every freedom-loving Southern Baptist ought to be asking their pastors why a Southern Baptist agency is affiliating itself with an organization funded by a known anti-American leftist,” Starnes said.
The Evangelical Immigration Table has drawn support from a wide range of Christian groups and individuals. In addition to Moore and Rodriguez, it is headed by leaders of World Relief, World Vision, the Assemblies of God USA, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, the National Association of Evangelicals and the Wesleyan Church, among others.
Its statement of principles has been endorsed by several former presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention—Jack Graham, Ronnie Floyd, Johnny Hunt, James Merritt, Bobby Welch and Mac Brunson—along with Paul Baxley, executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and Elijah Brown, general secretary of the Baptist World Alliance.