Sessions says the Bible justifies separating immigrant families. The verses he cited are infamous.
When British subjects in the original 13 colonies started rolling up their sleeves for the fight for independence in the 1770s, loyalist preachers hammered on a particular Bible verse from their pulpits. The words were meant to ice down the heated dissent and remind the upstarts to heed their British masters.
When Southern preachers blasted Northern abolitionists for defying the Fugitive Slave Act in the decade leading to the Civil War, they cited the same lines.
And on Thursday, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions stood at a lectern before a room in Fort Wayne, Ind., to defend the Trump administration’s practice of separating children from their immigrant parents, he reached for the same quote from the 13th chapter of the New Testament book of Romans.
“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,” the nation’s top law enforcement official said, The Washington Post reported. “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves. Consistent, fair application of the law is in itself a good and moral thing, and that protects the weak and protects the lawful.”
Whether he realized it, Sessions restarted a theological debate that stretches far beyond American politics and passes through some of the darkest swamps of recent history.
The passage — “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God” — has been read as an unequivocal order for Christians to obey state authority, a reading that not only justified Southern slavery but also authoritarian rule in Nazi Germany and South African apartheid.
But because the interpretation runs counter to so much of the Christian message, and drills right into the borderlands between church and state, the passage has also been incredibly controversial. In 1744, clergyman Elisha Williams remarked that the text was “often wrecked and tortured by such wits as were disposed to serve the designs of arbitrary power.” Sessions’s comments yesterday kicked up a similarly intense response.
Brony might've approved of Romans 13 in 1775, even though he's old school...
When I was younger, I would've said that government representatives in Western secular society shouldn't be reciting passages from religious texts in public announcements, but has since lost the verve.