The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has taken a stance against the Trump Administration, and its use of the Bible to justify its controversial immigration policy which has seen children of immigrants being separated from their families at the US-Mexico border.
The policy has resulted in outrage and criticism, both nationally and abroad. Responding to the criticism on Thursday, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited a passage from Romans 13 to support their position and encourage others to accept the government’s decision.
“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.
“Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.”
Since then the Archdiocese has issued a public statement on its website, expressing grave concern over the matter, claiming the quotation was “used out of context”.
“In recent days, the words of St Paul in the 13th chapter of his Epistle to the Romans have been circulating in the news. We are concerned and alarmed at the use of this biblical quote being used out of context to justify the strict application of a policy occurring at our southern border, which is detrimental to family life,” the statement reads.
The Archdiocese goes on to cite Ephesians 3:14, a scripture which highlights the importance of the family, and its sanctity – something the policy goes against.
“The numerous challenges of today’s world weaken the already strained bonds of every modern family. Family — a divine institution (cf. Ephesians 3:14) — is something that we as Orthodox Christians cherish and hold as sacred. Furthermore, when our Lord came into this world as a human being, he entered it as a child and part of a family. As a special creation of God the Father, no family deserves to be separated,” the Archdiocese explains.
“The institution of the family is found from the beginning of the Book of Genesis (chapter 2). In love and harmony, the family finds joy, each member in the other. Reflecting this joy, the Psalmist proclaims, your children will be like olive trees around your table (Psalm 127/128:3b). Let us bear in mind that the branch of an olive tree is a universal symbol of peace, not something to be torn apart and broken.”
In continuation, the Archdiocese goes on to condemn the outcome of the policy, as an “unfortunate situation” and expresses its hopes for a “swift and just solution”.
“It is for peace and for a dignified and humane solution to this unfortunate situation that we, together with people of good faith across our great nation, urgently entreat. Children should not, under any circumstances, be punished for things that are beyond their control. Our hearts go out to those suffering under these terrible conditions. We pray for them, that their families soon be restored, and pray that the proper authorities find a swift and just solution to this unfortunate and very painful situation.”
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese is not the only denomination in the US to take a stance against the policy.
According to a report by US-based The Pappas Post, even before the Attorney General referenced the Bible, Evangelist Franklin Graham, an outspoken Trump supporter, spoke out against the policy.
“It’s disgraceful, and it’s terrible to see families ripped apart and I don’t support that one bit,” Graham told the Christian Broadcasting Network.
Meanwhile President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and archbishop of the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese in Texas, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo also criticised the policy, dubbing it “immoral”.
“Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral,” he said.
Despite the outrage however, President Donald Trump has continued to defend his administration’s border-protection policies. So far some 2,000 children have been separated from their parents and placed into holding cages at the Mexican border, reports Independent.