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We’ve become a nation that separates children from parents

More than 1,600 people arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border, including parents who have been separated from their children, are being transferred to federal prisons, U.S. immigration authorities confirmed. They said they're running out of room at their own facilities. (James Quigg/The Daily Press via AP)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has justified the policy of separating children from their parents at the border by quoting the Bible.

Specifically, he quoted Paul in his letter to the Romans, who makes it very clear that Christians are to obey all earthly laws, because the earthly authorities have been established by God, so that whoever rebels against that authority is rebelling against what God has instituted.

Border crossers are breaking the law, therefore God says you may punish them.

Some pastors reject that argument pointing out it’s the same argument Christians used to justify slavery, and ultimately that’s just not “who we are” as a nation. Except it is “who we are” as a nation!  Isn’t it?  The government’s own figures say agents have now separated close to 2,000 children.

Those are American border agents, trained in America, paid by American taxpayers, following orders from an administration that ran on this policy and was elected by Americans!

This is who we are now!

I’m sure we very much would like to be a “beacon of hope to the world,” but that brought too many strangers banging on the door.  And so it appears we will snuff out that light and change the locks, at least for now.

As a democracy, we have the power to reconsider, but in the meantime, we are the country you see and, according to the Attorney General, that’s how the Bible wants it.

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NOTE:  The Attorney General’s interpretation Romans 13 is, of course, not the only one.  Below is the US Conference of Catholic Bishops interpretation of Romans 13, which includes the caveat that “Caesar has the responsibility to make just ordinances”:

* [13:1–7] Paul must come to grips with the problem raised by a message that declares people free from the law. How are they to relate to Roman authority? The problem was exacerbated by the fact that imperial protocol was interwoven with devotion to various deities. Paul builds on the traditional instruction exhibited in Wis 6:1–3, according to which kings and magistrates rule by consent of God. From this perspective, then, believers who render obedience to the governing authorities are obeying the one who is highest in command. At the same time, it is recognized that Caesar has the responsibility to make just ordinances and to commend uprightness; cf. Wis 6:4–21. That Caesar is not entitled to obedience when such obedience would nullify God’s prior claim to the believers’ moral decision becomes clear in the light of the following verses.

* [13:8–10] When love directs the Christian’s moral decisions, the interest of law in basic concerns, such as familial relationships, sanctity of life, and security of property, is safeguarded (Rom 13:9). Indeed, says Paul, the same applies to any other commandment (Rom 13:9), whether one in the Mosaic code or one drawn up by local magistrates under imperial authority. Love anticipates the purpose of public legislation, namely, to secure the best interests of the citizenry. Since Caesar’s obligation is to punish the wrongdoer (Rom 13:4), the Christian who acts in love is free from all legitimate indictment.

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