In defending the Trump administration's new policy of separating families at the U.S.-Mexico border, Attorney General Jeff Sessions made a novel argument on Thursday. "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," he said, grinning. When asked about that comment, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders argued "it is very biblical to enforce the law. That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible. ... It's a moral policy to follow and enforce the law."
The comments caused quite a stir. MSNBC's Brian Williams showed both statements Thursday night.
"Everyone reminded us today that there are many Bible passages about maybe loving these kids as we would our own children," Williams said. Los Angeles Times reporter Eli Stokols noted that the passage Sessions cited was used "in opposition to the American Revolution" and also "in defense of slavery. Hasn't really been used too much since, but Jeff Sessions dusted it off here today."
Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody decided that the media was unfamiliar with the Bible, specifically Romans 13:1, so he called a "Mainstream Media Bible Study!"
Mainstream Media Bible Study! At today’s @WhiteHouse briefing, @PressSec said it is, “very biblical to enforce the law.” She’s right.MSM might want to open up to Romans 13:1-7. Not sure if they have a bible nearby so here you go. @Acosta @BrianKarem @CNN @MSNBC @realDonaldTrump pic.twitter.com/rN1sL2Xixo
— David Brody (@TheBrodyFile) June 14, 2018
It turns out, lots of journalists, scholars, and theologians are familiar with the Bible — The Washington Post's fact-checker even cited scripture and verse — and not all of them agreed with Sessions' interpretation of Paul's views on God's law versus Roman law. Politico's Tim Alberta had maybe the pithiest response, though: "Telling that he chose to quote Paul instead of, you know, Jesus himself." Peter Weber