Sen. Paul Lowe, D-Forsyth, said his church provides food and other humanitarian assistance to the community. “The folks that need help and that are coming for help, we know they’re illegal,” Lowe stated. “ We know they’re here because they have nowhere else to go and they’re just trying to get some basic help. You don’t advertise it, but you just know.” Sen. Terry Van Duyn, D- Buncombe, asked whether someone could call the police and tell them to put up a checkpoint outside Lowe’s church and then call to file a complaint if the police didn’t do that. “I think this would lead to thousands of frivolous investigations and a significant drain on the state’s resources, as well as towns losing funding that they desperately need,” warned Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-Durham Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, echoed (Sen. Harry) Brown’s frustration, accusing Democrats on the committee of “nitpicking” the measure. “What we’re trying to do is say we’re not going to welcome you if you’re illegal,” Tillman said. “If you don’t like it, vote no.” An angry Lowe actually walked away from the committee table but returned moments later to respond to Tillman. “I resent anybody saying I’m nitpicking,” Lowe said. “I am concerned because this is a real issue. Someone could call the police department and say the Shiloh Baptist Church is harboring illegals, and that’s a real issue for a lot of churches.”These are our lawmakers arguing about a church providing food to people who need it. Matthew 25 clearly states, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Jesus says in Matthew’s Gospel, “Whatever you do to the least of these my brethren, you do unto me.” We are called to be Christ-like in our love of the neighbors with which God blesses us — we are called to welcome the stranger and extend a hand to those in need, regardless of their immigration status. Would you turn Jesus away from a food pantry at your church if he couldn’t produce a valid North Carolina driver’s license? Would you set up a checkpoint in front of your church to detain him and deport him back to his home country? These are the policies for which our “representatives” are advocating. Rep. Lowe is right: This is a real issue for a lot of churches, and the laws that our legislature adopts have serious consequences for immigrants and citizens. SB 145 has passed the Judiciary Committee and will be heard next in the Finance Committee and, if action taken is favorable, it will be discussed in the Senate Rules committee. Please, contact your representatives and tell them that you disagree with SB 145 because you believe that churches should be able to provide aid and hospitality to anyone who needs it, regardless of their documentation status, and that we should be adopting policies that promote offering welcome and service rather than punishing those who offer it.