VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 6/19/18)—American Baptist Home Mission Societies Executive Director Dr. Jeffrey Haggray has released a statement decrying the separation of migrant children from their parents at the U.S. border.
“Treating children as prisoners, depriving them of their basic right to be with their families, is not biblical in any way,” Haggray says. “American Baptist Home Mission Societies decries this absurd interpretation of Scripture. Since Jesus’ time it has been God’s intent to keep families together, despite insensitive governments.”
The statement is in response to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ quoting of the Bible to justify separating children from parents who supposedly enter the U.S. illegally.
Last Thursday, Sessions said: “Persons who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution. … 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. Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves. … and it protects the weak, it protects the lawful.”
Furthermore, in a press briefing, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended the position, saying, “I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law. That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible.”
Sessions was referring to Romans 13:1-2: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment” (NRSV).
However, both Session and Sanders ignored Romans 13:10: “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law” (NRSV).
Haggray’s recent statement follows his previous statement in conjunction with the National Day of Action for Children that appears with those of other faith leaders on the Interfaith Immigration Coalition’s website.
“American Baptist Home Mission Societies strongly condemns the recent attacks the U.S. administration has imposed on immigrant families,” Haggray said. “The last few months’ events related to immigrant children and their families make us question the morality of those who govern this country today. Separating vulnerable children from their parents and subjecting them to inhumane conditions is simply not acceptable. We, as members of the faith community, demand these actions stop and both the administration and Congress take steps that reflect compassion and justice, including family reunification.”
American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.