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It’s absolutely broken’: Columnist and religious leader tackle politics at Fresno event

Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez and Ruben Navarrette lead “no holds barred” discussion

Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez and Ruben Navarrette discussed education, immigration, among other topics at a Breakfast Discussion hosted by the Peoples Church in Fresno, CA.
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Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez and Ruben Navarrette discussed education, immigration, among other topics at a Breakfast Discussion hosted by the Peoples Church in Fresno, CA.

An event advertised as “no holds barred” discussion between nationally-syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette and faith leader Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez held true to its promise Tuesday morning at Fresno’s Peoples Church.

The speakers exchanged thoughts on a range of issues including education, faith, immigration, the Trump administration and what roles Latinos play in today’s political climate.

Navarrette, whose twice-a-week column appears in nearly 150 newspapers, didn’t always agree with Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

However, both did share common ground, in terms of being critical of President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and proposed immigration policies.

“If you separate people from their kids — I don’t care if you’re Democrat or Republican, I don’t care if you’re Janet Napolitano and you did it for Barack Obama — at some point you’re going to hell,” Navarrette said.

Rodriguez, who has served as an adviser to presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Trump, joined Navarrette in advocating for a more comprehensive legal immigration policy. Rodriguez said he presented his concept of an ideal policy to President Trump.

“It’s broken, it’s absolutely broken,” Rodriguez said of the current U.S, political system. “We took the rails off.”

Rodriguez argued the U.S. political system has been in need of repair since the Watergate scandal — damage only exacerbated by President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.

“Now this thing is completely broken. Both parties have corrupted elements to them,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez and Navarrette were very candid about their fields of work. Rodriguez encouraged the audience to question the infrastructure behind organized religion. “Do not marry the wine to the wine skin,” he said. “We can be critical of the wineskin.”

Navarrette also criticized the “liberal” media for not liking to admit they are wrong sometimes.

The friendship Rodriguez and Navarrette share kept the nearly 200 audience members entertained.

Navarrette called Rodriguez his “spiritual adviser.” Rodriguez said he “loves” Navarrette, saying he “speaks truth as he sees truth.”

The two even managed to make light of the angry reactions Navarrette receives for his columns. “You get hate from both the donkeys and the elephants, but you are loved by the lamb,” Rodriguez said.

The conversation went on for a little over an hour and closed with a prayer.

Audience member Justin Emmi, 47, said he enjoyed the conversation, specifically when it came to immigration. “We’re looking for Congress to take some action on immigration and I think it’s good to have a good, solid debate about it,” Emmi said.

The event was organized by the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, with sponsorship from AMB Ranch Management and Fowler Packing.

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