Christian Leaders Issue Statements on Separation of Families at the Border
A shocking violation of the spirit of the Gospel
In recent weeks, we have watched with horror at the implementation of policies from the Department of Justice regarding the treatment of people migrating to the United States.
In early May, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” policy resulting in de facto family separation: children are immediately removed from their parents as they are apprehended after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. And three days ago, the Attorney General also announced a policy reversing protections for asylum seekers fleeing domestic abuse and gang violence. Neither threat of violence is now considered grounds for asylum.
Furthermore — and in response to the ardent opposition from a wide array of faith communities — the officials responsible for these policies have recently used Christian scripture to justify their actions.
To argue that these policies are consistent with Christian teaching is unsound, a flawed interpretation, and a shocking violation of the spirit of the Gospel.
Administration officials have used the Christian text of Paul’s Letter to the Romans — his first and weightiest epistle — to justify their actions. The ethical teachings of Romans 12-16 describe that consecrated Christian life requires the duties of love and hospitality. The commandment in Chapter 13 to “be subject to the governing authorities” is bracketed by preceding and following passages containing the command to “love.”
Earlier verses detail what love looks like:
Let love be genuine, hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord…extend hospitality to strangers. (Romans 12: 9-11, 13 NRSV, emphasis added)
Subsequent verses further clarify the centrality of love and its comprehensive nature, stating that all the
commandment[s] are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13: 9-10 NRSV, emphasis added)
We are reminded by Paul that love is the way.
Jesus is our way, our truth, our life. The Christ we follow would have no part in ripping children from their mothers’ arms or shunning those fleeing violence. It is unimaginable that faith leaders even have to say that these policies are antithetical to the teachings of Christ.
Christian sacred texts should never be used to justify policies that oppress or harm children and families.
Those using the Bible to justify these horrific policies, should also read the prophet Isaiah:
Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. (Isaiah 10: 1-3 NIV)
The Trump Administration implemented these policies. They have the power to stop these horrific actions. Join me in calling on the Department of Justice, and especially on our fellow United Methodist, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to immediately reverse these decisions.
When you reach out, be sure to share with them the Social Principles of our United Methodist Church, which uphold the rights of immigrants, oppose family separation, and demand protections for women, children and men from violence.