Many were concerned that Mr. Sessions’s chosen chapter, Romans 13, had been commonly used to defend slavery and oppose the American Revolution.
.. The directive has led to the fracturing of hundreds of migrant families, funneling children into shelters and foster homes.
Mr. Sessions said, “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.”
He added: “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves. Consistent and fair application of the law is in itself a good and moral thing, and that protects the weak, it protects the lawful.”
.. “The founding fathers created the criminal justice system to be a largely secular criminal justice system,” he said. “They didn’t have in mind punishing criminals and condemning them using Bible verses.”
.. Before the nation’s founding, it was frequently used by Loyalists to oppose the American Revolution, Dr. Fea said. And in the 19th century, pro-slavery Southerners often cited the chapter’s opening verses to defend slavery — in particular, adherence to the Fugitive Slave Act, which required the seizure and return of runaway slaves... Outside the United States, the passage was used by Christians in Europe to defend Nazi rule and by white religious conservatives in South Africa to defend apartheid.. “It’s an endorsement of empire,” Gay L. Byron, a professor of the New Testament and early Christianity at the Howard University School of Divinity, said of the passage on Friday. “Whenever governments need to try to gain leverage in a debate, they say something like that.”.. Mr. Sessions cited the Bible in his speech because he was responding to religious leaders’ criticism of the zero-tolerance policy on illegal immigration... Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, addressed the issue on Thursday in response to a reporter who asked, “Where does it say in the Bible that it’s moral to take children away from their mothers?”
Ms. Sanders responded that she was not aware of what Mr. Sessions was referring to but added that it is “biblical” for a government to enforce the law. “That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible,” she said.
.. Dr. Byron, the divinity school professor, said Mr. Sessions’s use of the passage is a classic case of a politician “cherry-picking” the Bible for statements that match their policy. “What’s missing is the fact that there are so many other biblical statements and mandates to take care of children and take care of those who are marginalized,” she said. “We don’t hear Sessions referencing those texts.”