If you haven’t been watching the news, something I actually proudly stake a claim in, you probably still have heard about the concerns of reports of immigrants and their families. It’s no secret the United States government is attempting to remove many immigrants from the United States who do not have formal documentation to be in the country. Some are for this, others against. On May 7th, Jeff Sessions, current acting Attorney General of the United States implemented a zero tolerance expectation with the immigration policy, which you can read here. The concern is over a very specific statement in the policy:

If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law.

Some Context

In an era of fake news, let’s set the record straight. This article isn’t about if it is fair or okay for the immigration policy to be implimented, I’m not a lawyer and will instead use my right to vote to speak to this concern.

The issue is about the recent uproar of children of illegal immigrants being taken from their families and then Jeff Sessions in a public forum quoting Scripture on why this is important and then Sarah Huckabee Sanders summed up the statement.

Jeff Sessions was at a conference in Fort Wayne, IN on June 14th and the whole speech again can be read here. He states:

First- illegal entry into the United States is a crime—as it should be. Persons who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution. 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.

Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.

If you’d like to read Romans 13 for yourself to understand what the passage says, here’s a link to that as well. It should be noted within that chapter, we see two verses that many Christians need to adhere to more in all of their life, including in politics:

Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. – Romans 13:13-14

Sarah Huckabee Sanders statement at a White House press briefing was quoted when asked about Jeff Sessions using Scripture as saying “It is very biblical to enforce the law.”

It should also be put into context this is not the first time immigration has been in issue (remember the Civil War?), children taken from their families (this came up during the Obama administration), or elected officials using and misusing Scripture for their own political agendas (way too many to cite, Google it).

The Issue

The issue here is if the Bible and the Church does or does not support the zero tolerance immigration policy. Jeff Sessions and many Republicans believe it does. Many media outlets say it doesn’t, though is this because Republicans support it, I don’t know.

But I think maybe we should see what the Church itself has to say about the issue. Jack Jenkins is a writer for Religion News Service who has done all of the leg work for this article that I want to share. I have embedded his tweet below, but created a nice to consume list for all of the church denominations and Christian leaders who are actually speaking out against this. It’s important for us to be in the know, your denomination is probably on here as well. (Note, I do not endorse the bylaws or theological interpretation of most of these denominations in general, but instead the Church as a united front)

  1. U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
  2. Southern Baptist Convetion, via the 2018 SBC Annual meeting Resolution 5
  3. Franklin Graham on CBN
  4. The Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church
  5. Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers)
  6. United Church of Christ
  7. Episcopal Church
  8. Mennonite Church USA
  9. Presbyterian Church (USA)
  10. Reformed Church in America
  11. Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
  12. International Council of Community Churches
  13. Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, who read scripture at Trump’s inauguration
    Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals
    Scott Arbeiter, President of World ReliefShirley V. Hoogstra, Prex of Council for Christian Colleges and UniversitiesHyepin Im, President & CEO of Korean Churches for Community DevelopmentJo Anne Lyon, Ambassador for The Wesleyan ChurchRussell Moore, President of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

    Richard Stearns, President of World Vision
  14. Church World Service
  15. 2,500 Christian women leaders
  16. American Baptist Churches of New Jersey
  17. Church of the Nazarene

I have no doubt there will be more and I wouldn’t be prompt in updating the list, so you can follow Jack’s twitter thread here:

Formally, I would like to support the calling out to change the expectations of families not being kept together.

I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below. And be appropriate.

[Image via KMIR.com]

Posted by Jeremy Smith

Jeremy is owner of ChurchAndMentalHealth.com and the Co-Occurring Program Coordinator and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor at a community mental health center. Jeremy has a history of working as a ministry director for Youth for Christ for 8 years and then working as a mental health and substance use adult counselor in Colorado and Ohio, specifically running an Opioid Residential Treatment Center.

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