America’s faith communities largely disapprove of President Donald Trump’s immigration policy involving the traumatizing practice of removing children from their families as parents are prosecuted for unlawful entry into the United States.
But elements of the evangelical Christian community have turned to the Bible for proof that the policy is both just and scripturally sound.
The head of Capitol Ministries – which leads prayer and bible studies for Washington, D.C. officials – said Attorney General Jeff Sessions was right to cite Romans 13 in defense of his inhumane policy.
> “The passage the Attorney General cited, Romans 13, bespeaks of this: there are and there should be serious, known consequences for breaking the laws of the land — otherwise the law becomes toothless and inconsequential and it is no longer a deterrent to harmful behavior, which is what God designed it to be,” [Ralph] Drollinger wrote.
Drollinger is not alone in his opinion on what can only be called biblical proof-texting – the removal of context to twist Scripture to one’s own agenda – but that does not make him right.
It is unlikely that Drollinger would agree that Romans 13 should be used to justify the atrocities committed under Adolf Hitler during World War II – but that is precisely the company he keeps by employing the passage in defense of family separations.
As The Intellectualist noted previously, the Third Reich fell back upon Scripture in an attempt to make right the horrific treatment of Jews and others as it imprisoned, tortured, and murdered people in concentration camps and established an authoritarian state.
> In July 1933, during Hitler’s first summer in power, a young German pastor named Joachim Hossenfelder preached a sermon in the towering Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, Berlin’s most important church. He used the words of Romans 13 to remind worshippers of the importance of obedience to those in authority. The church was festooned with Nazi banners and Stormtrooper flags, its pews packed with the Nazi Party faithful – including men in the brown shirts of the Sturmabteilung, the Nazis’ paramilitary movement.
Both Sessions and Drollinger – and any others who agree that Romans 13, pulled from its context to the detriment of the whole of Christian teaching – would do well to reconsider their allegiance to the same interpretation and usage that Hitler himself used to justify his actions.
> 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.