Pulpit to Soapbox: Austin preacher wants immigration reform

As a pastor at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Jim Rigby spends a lot of time preparing sermons in his office and preaching to the congregation from his pulpit. But this man of faith has recently expanded his venue beyond the walls of this sanctuary.

"This is what I like to do, this is what I train for and I love, the other is more duty, it’s something that when people are in harm’s way, may faith demands that I stand by my neighbor,” said Pastor Rigby.

The sanctuary Pastor Rigby seems to be talking a lot about lately is one he doesn't like. SB4, the controversial law passed during the regular session that bans local communities from enacting sanctuary city policies. On May 1st, the pastor was among those who took part in this sit in to protest the legislation.

He was arrested on a misdemeanor criminal trespass charge.

"I was always the kid that never got in trouble in school, and I was thinking the worst thing I could do was to get in trouble,” said Pastor Rigby.

Getting in troubled caught the public eye, prompting appearances on national TV programs.

His discussions,most recently with FOX's Tucker Carlson, provided the protesting preacher with a new audience. "I don’t understand what’s happening, just to be honest with you, because I've been doing human rights work for a long time but there is something about this issue,” said Pastor Rigby.

That issue is the impasse between those wanting an expansion of immigration rights and those who want tougher enforcement of immigration law. Last year, St. Andrews became a flashpoint in that debate after providing sanctuary to a woman and her son who fled Guatemala.

While the two won a brief reprieve from deportation, the political debate has only intensified.

"I want us to be able to talk to each other in this country, I want, because I coming from one side and others from another side, to get past the vocabulary of conflict and say what does every human being deserve, that’s what we are talking about, we are not enemies in this country, we've gotten trapped like two parts, you want to be conservative or you want to be  liberal, the problems of the world needs both, we've got to get both hands on deck, with this thing,” said Pastor Rigby.

Pastor Rigby says he doesn’t endorse acts of violence by protesters but believes a radical change in thought and policy is needed. "The way I see it is, when you set somebody else' home on fire and arrest them for trespassing when they flee through your back yard, there is something wrong with that,” said Pastor Rigby.
        
The pastor did say he is troubled by recent incidents where protesters have gotten aggressive.

Things like the group of SB4 protesters who on Tuesday tried to block the Cedar Park Fourth of July parade.

The pastor said doing that is counterproductive and can cause more harm than good.

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