Christian leaders rebuke Jeff Sessions for citing Bible to justify separating immigrant families

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions waits to speak at the Federalist Society's 2017 National Lawyers Convention in Washington, U.S., November 17, 2017. | Reuters/Joshua Roberts

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has drawn criticism from Christian leaders for using the Bible as justification for the government's policy of separating immigrant children from their families at the border.

In an interview with CBN News on Tuesday, famed evangelist Franklin Graham expressed his disapproval of the policy, noting that it was a result of lawmakers' failures over the past decades.

"It's disgraceful, and it's terrible to see families ripped apart and I don't support that one bit," Graham said, according to The Hill.

Sessions has defended the policy saying the children are being separated from their families because the government does not want to send them to jail with their parents. He noted that the children are placed in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The attorney general said that the criticism against the policy was "not fair or logical." He cited Romans 13, which calls on Christians to obey the government, to defend the "zero tolerance" policy.

Southern Baptist leader Dan Darling contended that the verse does not instruct Christians to blindly follow unjust laws. He further argued that the passage also implies that those in public office must be held accountable for the laws that they create.

Matthew Schlimm, a professor of the Old Testament at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary in Iowa, argued that Sessions has taken the verse out of context. He pointed out that in the surrounding passages, the Apostle Paul had called on believers to love others, including their enemies.

The Old Testament professor further noted that the same passage has been used to justify slavery and Nazism.

On Friday, President Donald Trump said that he was not in favor of the policy that requires the separation of immigrant children from their families.

The president blamed the law on Democratic lawmakers, saying "The Democrats have to change the law – that's their law."

Michael Wear, who served as a faith advisor during the Obama administration, rejected Trump's argument that he has no authority to change the policy. "He can stop it today with one phone call, with one stroke of the pen," Wear told CBN News.

He said he believes that the disagreement with Christian leaders appear to be a test of how much influence the Trump administration's faith advisers have over public policy.

"The administration has people surrounding it that have been bragging that faith leaders, especially evangelicals, have never had so much influence, so much access and this is a real test of whether that access is only for sycophants who they like having around as long as they agree with them or if faith leaders have the ability to change the trajectory of this administration," he told CBN News.