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Faith leaders from a range of religious backgrounds have banded together to condemn a new Arizona law, signed Friday, that allows police to stop anyone suspected of being an undocumented immigrant. Critics say this essentially legalizes racial profiling and harrassment of Latinos, since it aims to address the border state’s struggles with Mexicans crossing the border illegally or overstaying their visas.

Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and several Catholic bishops were among the clergy protesting the legislation, which Mahony called “the country’s most retrogressive, mean-spirited and useless anti-immigration law.” Beliefnet’s new blogger, Diana Butler Bass, also criticizes the law over at Christianity for the Rest of Us.

For a roundup of similar reactions, check out the press releases and related coverage at Faith in Public Life, a faith-based organization pushing for immigration reform. Here are three excerpts:

Gideon Aronoff, President and CEO, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society:

“The Jewish community has long called on our national leaders to reform our immigration laws to ‘welcome the stranger’ and to create an effective federal immigration system characterized by the rule of law and the humane treatment of newcomers… Arizona has taken itself out of the mainstream of American life and has betrayed the proud history of a nation built by immigrants.”

Rev. Jan Flaaten, Executive Director, Arizona Ecumenical Council:

“All the religious leaders of Arizona know and understand that this law will not solve the issue of crime along the border or in our state, but it will demonize anyone who looks suspiciously like an undocumented person leading to inevitable racial profiling. Our religious traditions ask us to treat people with dignity and respect, and we look for a more enlightened and hopeful way of working with the undocumented people who live along side us.”

Rev. Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners:

“The law signed today by Arizona Gov. Brewer is a social and racial sin, and should be denounced as such by people of faith and conscience across the nation… This law will make it illegal to love your neighbor in Arizona, and will force us to disobey Jesus and his gospel. We will not comply.”

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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