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Est. April 5, 2002
June 21, 2018 - Issue 747

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Three Questions for Jeff Sessions
By Rev. Peter Laarman

"It’s never been truer
that even the Devil can quote
Scripture for his own purposes."

No big surprise that our Attorney General, smarting from some religious pushback against his rip-the-kids-away-from-their-moms approach to asylum seekers, would resort to biblical proof texting. That’s always a rogue’s move, and it’s never been truer that even the Devil can quote Scripture for his own purposes.

  1. In Ft. Wayne, you said that God ordains the laws for the sake of “order.” Has there been anything even remotely orderly about your use of terror tactics against desperate mothers and children who arrive at our border seeking protection from rapists and thugs? After all, the administration you serve has admitted that it lost track of nearly 1,500 immigrant children in its custody just last year.

  2. In urging respect for law, has it occurred to you that the United States is legally obligated to honor the provisions of various international conventions it has signed, specifically the 1951 Refugee Convention and the International Convention Against Torture?

  3. What’s your view of the American Revolution? Were the rebellious colonists justified in resisting George III’s lawful authority? Yes or no?

You undoubtedly know that many of the leading American revolutionaries—figures like James Otis, Samuel Adams, John Dickinson, James Wilson, Stephen Hopkins, and John Witherspoon—took their Bibles very seriously. They argued that Romans 13:1-5—the passage you cite—along with its echo in I Peter 2:13-14—have only to do with respecting the general authority of government and not with blind submission to the dictates of a particular ruler. On Romans 13 specifically, I particularly urge you to read Rev. Jonathan Mayhew’s famous sermon of 1750 (often called the “opening gun” of the American Revolution), in which Mayhew concludes that “resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.” Guest Commentator, Rev. Peter Laarman is volunteer project coordinator for Justice Not Jails. He formerly directed Progressive Christians Uniting, the LA-based network of activist individuals and congregations that first launched Justice Not Jails in 2012 as a multifaith initiative. He served as the senior minister of New York’s Judson Memorial Church from 1994 to 2004. Ordained in the United Church of Christ, Peter spent 15 years as a labor movement strategist and communications specialist prior to training for ministry.
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