A Word From the Bishop: A Note on Romans 13

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In general I am leery, as you may recall, about wading into political contestation. My two exceptions are matters which bear directly on the theological and those bearing on the lives of parishioners. When Attorney General Sessions cited Romans 13 on the civil authorities in order to defend the policy of separating parents from their children when detained at the border, by the first criterion the matter merits comment.

  1. Obeying the authorities does not mean agreeing with them. Paul was after all talking about Caesar.
  2. We need to consider the whole witness of Scripture, each passage together with other relevant ones, for example those about mercy or about the stranger and sojourner.
  3. Motive in the reader is an appropriate consideration. While immigration policy is a real question for debate, it is hard to deny that the administration has used fear and resentment for political gain.
  4. The protection of vulnerable children is also an aim of our legal system. This too has roots in the New Testament.