Church co-founded, led by Rick Scott gives aid to Immokalee’s farmworkers

Community Church, Rick Scott, Naples, Wednesday, June 16, 2010. Photo by Tristan Spinski

Photo by TRISTAN SPINSKI // Buy this photo

Community Church, Rick Scott, Naples, Wednesday, June 16, 2010. Photo by Tristan Spinski

Religion is as much a part of Rick Scott’s political foundation as is his disdain of government regulations.

“I don’t think you can separate the two,” he said after a campaign stop in Naples this past week. “My faith is who I am.”

— If you’ve seen Rick Scott’s ubiquitous TV ads, then you’re probably familiar with the themes he has taken on the road with his stump speech.

He talks about his record creating jobs, about coming up from nothing to building one of the largest employers in the country and about his firm stance against illegal immigration.

But a huge component of that speech is something he doesn’t mention much on TV — his faith. Born into a Methodist family and now a trustee at a growing nondenominational church in Naples that he helped found in 2006, religion is as much a part of Scott’s political foundation as is his disdain of government regulations.

“I don’t think you can separate the two,” he said after a campaign stop in Naples this past week. “My faith is who I am.”

So who does that make Rick Scott?

For starters, it makes him an opponent of abortion rights and gay marriage. He said he would have signed a bill Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed earlier this year that would have required women seeking an abortion to view an ultrasound before going ahead with terminating a pregnancy.

At campaign stops and in interviews, Scott has consistently affirmed these statements.

“I believe marriage is between a man and a woman,” he said at a rally in Naples as part of his week-long bus tour of the state.

“I believe marriage is between a man and a woman,” he said at a rally in Naples as part of his week-long bus tour of the state.

When asked if government sanctioning marriage at all went against his belief in limited government, Scott demurred, reiterating his stance against same-sex unions.

Scott has shown little room for compromise in his campaign speeches and interviews. He prefers to speak in black and white. He acknowledged his views aren’t going to fit with some folks in Florida, but if elected doesn’t plan on seeking middle ground.

“I say what I believe,” he said. “People are going to know who they are electing.”

One area Scott’s voice has been the loudest is on immigration laws. His first major jump into the race came after blanketing the state with ads saying he hoped to bring Arizona’s controversial new immigration law to Florida. He is also adamant about his disdain for calls for amnesty for illegal immigrants.

However, a closer look at his financial holdings found Scott was a shareholder in companies that were against the Arizona law.

If you couple that with a farmworker ministry project that Scott’s church supports, does the black-and-white world of Scott’s stance on immigration start to seem a little gray?

Naples Community Church, on which Scott sits on the board of trustees, aids a faith-based farmworkers mission that offers basic necessities both to documented and undocumented immigrants in Immokalee.

Scott said his church’s mission work is done out of a sense of Christian charity, and there is no contradiction between the support his church gives to Mision Peniel and his stance on immigration.

“As a Christian you need to help people,” Scott said. “You help those who are disadvantaged.”

Naples Community Church, on which Scott sits on the board of trustees, aids a faith-based farmworkers mission that offers basic necessities both to documented and undocumented immigrants in Immokalee.

CLICK HERE FOR RELATED STORY: Rick Scott left Presbyterian church to help found Naples Community Church

Mision Peniel is a ministry run by Pastor Miguel Estrada, a Guatemalan immigrant. It gives food, clothing, toiletries and a place of worship to Immokalee farmworkers, regardless of their immigration status.

Naples Community Church has given about $37,000 in financial assistance to Mision Peniel, plus packaged donations and scores of volunteer hours, confirmed Scott’s pastor, Kirt Anderson.

Estrada said those contributions were crucial to the organization this year, when many farmworkers found little work because of several winter cold snaps ruining many local crops.

While Estrada stopped short of saying that his mission willingly gives to known undocumented workers, he said it’s no secret that a large portion of the Immokalee farmworker community is working without legal documentation.

Dave Moore is executive director of Beth-El Missions, which gave Estrada the opportunity to start Mision Peniel three years ago.

Moore said a farmworker’s immigration status isn’t important to the organization.

“They do have a need,” he said. “As a faith-based organization we are called on to serve ‘the least of these.’”

That’s not to say the organization doesn’t care about immigration. Both Moore and Estrada said they were skeptical of the Arizona-style immigration laws that Scott supports, arguing the issue is much more complicated than some politicians portray to the public.

“We hope very strongly the Arizona immigration law doesn’t come to Florida,” Moore said.

Elections 2010 Page:

Scott said his church’s mission work is done out of a sense of Christian charity, and there is no contradiction between the support his church gives to Mision Peniel and his stance on immigration.

“As a Christian you need to help people,” he said. “You help those who are disadvantaged.”

But he doesn’t see giving financial support, food or clothing as an act of condoning the ways illegal immigrants entered the country.

“I believe in the rule of law,” he said. “If you are here illegally, then you are breaking the law and you should be deported.”

Anderson said Scott hasn’t been directly involved in the church’s missions and didn’t know if the candidate had given financial support to Mision Peniel.

But Anderson also tried to absolve Scott of any contradiction by comparing the work with Mision Peniel to the scores of prison ministries run by churches across the nation.

Churchgoers aren’t supporting crime, Anderson said, they are ministering to the criminal.

MORE DAILY NEWS COVERAGE ON RICK SCOTT

Church co-founded, led by Rick Scott gives aid to Immokalee’s farmworkers

Rick Scott left Presbyterian church to help found Naples Community Church

Rick Scott for governor of Florida catches on with out-of-state donors

PHOTOS: Rick Scott discusses Arizona immigration law in Naples

Finance report: Scott loaned his campaign $22.9M and has spent nearly as much

Click here for related story: For the record, do Rick Scott and Bill McCollum vote themselves?

Click here for related story: VIDEO/PHOTOS: Rick Scott stops in Naples during state-wide six day bus tour

Click here for related story: POLL: McCollum campaigns on GOP opponent Rick Scott's turf

Click here for related story: Judge: McCollum can get funds to match Rick Scott

Click here for related story: VIDEO: Gov. candidate Rick Scott talks to local Republican women's group

Click here for related story: VIDEO/PHOTOS: Howdy neighbor: Rick Scott, Collier Democratic offices in same plaza

Click here for related story: Rich Rick: Governor candidate Scott worth $218 million, investments reach Latin America

Click here for related story: Dodgeball: Rick Scott, Bill McCollum debate about debate dates

Click here for related story: Rick Scott interviews: Governor candidate on HCA, oil spill, illegal immigration

Click here for related story: VIDEO/PHOTOS: Florida governor candidates Sink, McCollum, Chiles make pitch to editors

Click here for related story: Rick Scott rides TV ads, ‘21st century campaign’ to GOP lead for Florida governor

Click here for related story: Florida, Collier GOP leaders neutral as attacks escalate on Rick Scott, McCollum

Click here for related story: McCollum wants to debate Rick Scott; Mitt Romney endorses in governor race

Click here for related story: POLL: Rick Scott challenges Bill McCollum to four debates in Florida GOP governor's race

Click here for Daily News' initial report on Rick Scott's campaign for governor, HCA and his background

Click here for a Q&A with the Daily News and Rick Scott

© 2010 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Stories

Related Links

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features