The Maine Council of Churches has issued a statement calling the Trump administration policy of separating children from their parents at the southern border “an outrage.”

The Rev. Jane Field, executive director of the council, condemned Attorney General Jeff Sessions for using a Bible verse to defend the controversial policy.

“I would cite you 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,” Sessions said during a speech to law enforcement officers in Fort Wayne, Indiana, last week. “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves. Consistent and fair application of the law is in itself a good and moral thing, and that protects the weak and protects the lawful.”

Field said that passage was used years ago to justify slavery, and is often used out of context. Just a few lines later, it continues, “Love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

“To use sacred texts like that to justify separating children from their parents, sometimes nursing children from their mothers, is an outrage,” Field said.

Field advised people of faith to contact their representatives in Congress to oppose the policy of family separation, as well as this interpretation of Scripture.

“We should not be a country who takes babies out of the arms of their mothers,” Field said. “To express your opposition is a very important first step.”

Other local and global religious leaders have spoken out this week as well.

Pope Francis condemned the policy in an interview with Reuters news agency published Wednesday.

“It’s not easy, but populism is not the solution,” the pope said. He also backed the U.S. Catholic bishops, who have described the policy as “immoral.”

Bishop Robert Deeley of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland and Bishop Stephen T. Lane, the Episcopal bishop of Maine, released a joint statement Tuesday opposing the policy on moral grounds. They wrote that tearing children from parents does not reflect the teachings of Jesus or the values on which the nation was founded.

“Families that present themselves as a unit for consideration for asylum should be treated as a unit throughout the legal adjudication process,” they wrote. “Separating children from their parents will result in unnecessary harm and irreparable trauma for all concerned. We call on our leaders to fix this policy immediately by passing legislation that clarifies that mothers and fathers held for asylum proceedings may be held with their children in a common facility.”

 

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