Statement from the Bishop of New Jersey
Concerning the Forced Separation of Families
at the Southern Border of the United States
I wish to add my voice to that of other religious leaders who strongly condemn the Trump Administration's immigration enforcement policy, in which children of adults who enter the United States without authorization are separated from their families. As a result of this policy of criminalizing parents, most of whom are being charged with misdemeanors, approximately 2000 children have been taken from their parents or other guardians in the last six weeks and
in facilities such as a former Walmart in Brownsville, Texas. Plans are in process to construct "Tent Cities" to accommodate the planned overflow of seized children.
All of this can only be described as disgusting and disgraceful. Our country should be better than this.
The rationale given by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who cited
saying, "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," and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who echoed this, stating, "It is very biblical to enforce the law," is an abuse of sacred Scripture, and violates the fundamental interpretive principle of all Scripture and of the Christian faith:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength and Love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27)
. Historically, Romans 13 has been abused to justify slavery in the United States, Apartheid in South Africa, and Hitler's persecution of the Jews and others in Nazi Germany. Mr. Sessions's reckless use of Romans 13 is deeply troubling and inappropriate.
I concur with the group of national religious leaders who issued a
on June 13, 2018, stating in part:
We affirm the family as a foundational societal structure to support human community and understand the household as an estate blessed by God. The security of the family provides critical mental, physical and emotional support to the development and wellbeing of children. Our congregations and agencies serve many migrant families that have recently arrived in the United States. Leaving their communities is often the only option they have to provide safety for their children and protect them from harm. Tearing children away from parents who have made a dangerous journey to provide a safe and sufficient life for them is unnecessarily cruel and detrimental to the well-being of parents and children.
As we continue to serve and love our neighbor, we pray for the children and families that will suffer due to this policy and urge the Administration to stop their policy of separating families.
I urge all Episcopalians in the Diocese of New Jersey, all Christians, and indeed all persons of good will to join in every effort to stop this horrendous enforcement policy.
The Right Reverend William H. Stokes
Bishop of New Jersey