U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday cited the Bible to defend the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents caught illegally crossing the border.
“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order. If you cross the Southwest border unlawfully, then the Department of Homeland Security will arrest you and the Department of Justice will prosecute you. Having children does not give you immunity from arrest and prosecution.”
Speaking about immigration in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Sessions blamed the parents for the separations.
“They are the ones who broke the law, they are the ones who endangered their own children on their trek,” Sessions said.
AG Jeff Sessions on immigration policy: Illegal entry into the US is a crime; "I would cite you to the apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes." https://t.co/dARdLrNPbW pic.twitter.com/nu5EWCWlJW
— CNN (@CNN)
He also dismissed criticisms of the controversial program as not “fair or logical, and some are contrary to law.”
When asked about Sessions’ comments Thursday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders doubled down on the Biblical reference, saying “it is very biblical to enforce the law. That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible.”
But those who know their Bible best may disagree. A number of religious leaders have criticized the policy, including the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops and evangelical Christians such as the Rev. Franklin Graham and the Southern Baptist Convention.
“I think it’s disgraceful, it’s terrible to see families ripped apart and I don’t support that one bit,” said Graham, the son of the late Rev. Billy Graham, in an interview this week with the Christian Broadcasting Network.
On social media, other Bible verses were cited:
I guess Sessions forgot about the Gospels part of the Bible. Matthew 25:35 says "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me".
Nothing in the Bible says to separate kids from parents. It teaches the opposite. https://t.co/gP5QfRtWuK
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu)
THREAD YES @AriMelber you remember correctly. 36 times in the Hebrew Bible it is written to love/take care of the stranger for "we were strangers in a strange land." It's the MOST repeated commandment in Torah. YES Sessions using the Bible to support his evil policy is W.R.O.N.G.
— Rabbi Jill Zimmerman (@RabbiJill)
Mr. Sessions, Ms. Sanders - in case you were absent from Sunday School that day:
- from The Bible: Isaiah 10:1 - "Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees." - New International Version
— John Lundin