Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsPress: For Trump endorsement: The more sordid, the better Those predicting Facebook's demise are blowing smoke If bitcoin is 'digital gold,' it should be taxed like gold MORE invoked the Bible on Thursday to defend the Trump administration's immigration policies, including separating families who illegally cross the border into the U.S.
“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,” Sessions said during a speech in Fort Wayne, Indiana. “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.”
AG Jeff Sessions on immigration policy: Illegal entry into the US is a crime; "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." https://t.co/dARdLrNPbW pic.twitter.com/nu5EWCWlJW— CNN (@CNN) June 14, 2018
Sessions' comments come as the administration faces backlash for implementing a "zero tolerance" policy at the border by criminally prosecuting migrants entering the country illegally. The approach includes implementing a previous policy that mandated separating migrant parents facing prosecution from their children during the process.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders doubled down on the Bible defense of the policy when asked about Sessions' remarks by CNN's Jim Acosta at the White House press briefing on Thursday, saying "it is very biblical to enforce the law."
Acosta pressed her to cite chapter and verse specifically on the policy of separating families.
"I know it’s hard for you to understand even short sentences, I guess, but please don’t take my words out of context," Sanders responded.
Despite Sessions' use of the Bible, various Christian groups have expressed outrage over the policy.
The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) called the policy immoral at the group's annual meeting on Wednesday.
“Our government has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma. Families are the foundational element of our society and they must be able to stay together,” USCCB's president, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo said.
The Southern Baptist Convention, which is a conservative evangelical denomination, called on Tuesday for immigration reform that includes “the priority of family unity.”
“We declare that any form of nativism, mistreatment, or exploitation is inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ,” the resolution said.
Franklin Graham, a prominent evangelical and Trump supporter, this week said the policy of separating families at the U.S.–Mexico border is "disgraceful" but not the fault of the Trump administration.
"I blame politicians for the last 20, 30 years that have allowed this to escalate to the point where it is today," Graham said on the Christian Broadcasting Network. "We are a country of a laws, laws need to be obeyed, no question about that, but the situation we have today as a result of our lawmakers in Washington over generations ignoring this."