Part III: Romans 13:1 and Liberal Theology


This is the final of three parts.

Quite frankly, I don’t want to exonerate Jeff Sessions. In moments of hysteria, I swear he is a Democrat party spy, designed to infiltrate the Trump Administration to make President Trump’s life a living hell. We would NOT be in this toilet of a mess with this blasted Muller inquisition if it weren’t for Sessions grandstanding. He is a sham as an Attorney General – a joke. He was stupid, a total fool when he began spouting scripture to deal with a law which has been in place since the Clinton Administration. But, I don’t think anyone now thinks that Jeff Sessions is the brightest bulb in the Swamp. BUT – even those of us who would like to see some sort of a Vulcan mind-meld to figure out what the man is thinking cannot blame him for even connecting Romans 13:1 to slavery. It just isn’t there.

This is what CNN reports:

“…The most historically influential paragraph Paul ever wrote,” in the words of one scholar. Likely written by the Apostle Paul around 57 AD, Romans 13, including the snippet cited by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday, instructs Christians to submit to “God’s servants.” That is, the government. “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established,” the passage says. “The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” Romans 13 has been cited by Nazi sympathizers and apartheid-enforcers, slave owners and loyalists opposed to the American Revolution. Modern Christians have wrestled with how to apply the passage to issues like abortion, same-sex marriage and taxes….”

CNN quotes very well known Christian leader and evangelist, Luke Thompson. Yep, I never heard of him. He’s an unknown out of Canada.

Links to Romans 13:1 after June 1, 2018 are interesting.

Jeff Sessions and Romans 13: Should Christians Always Obey the Government?

What does the Bible verse Jeff Sessions quoted really mean?

Daily Beast

The FAQs: What You Should Know About Family Separation at the Border

Lancaster Online

Jim Denison on Jeff Sessions and Romans 13: Should Christians Always Obey the Government?

The racist history of the Bible verse the White House uses to justify separating families

Mike Pence, “Orientation to Authority,” and Public Uses of Romans 13

Religious leaders criticize use of Scripture to justify immigration policy

Sessions distorts Romans 13:1 to say civil laws are God’s will

What Jeff Sessions got wrong when quoting the Bible

Sessions’s Use of Bible Passage to Defend Immigration Policy Draws Fire

Out of context: misunderstanding Romans 13

Jeff Sessions says the Bible justifies family separation. Does it?

Let’s talk about Romans 13

Why is Jeff Sessions quoting Romans 13 and why is the bible verse so often invoked?

Cherry-Picking the Bible to Mistreat the Stranger: Religion on Family Separation

VOX has featured this insulting article by Tara Isabelle Burton, who basically turns it into a damnation of anyone who supports Donald Trump. We’re all “Christian Nationalists” and evil white supremacists.

“…But Romans 13 has, indeed, been applied more broadly — frequently in American politics — when it comes to two particularly controversial social issues. The idea that Romans 13 should be taken as a blanket support of government has appeared as a common rhetorical trope twice before in American history, as Messiah College professor of religion John Fea (whose blog, the Way of Improvement, is a vital resource for understanding Christian nationalism today) points out.

The first instance where Romans 13 was used to legitimize government power was among Loyalists during the time of the American Revolution, who believed that the verse meant Americans should not break away from England.

The second, and far more significant, instance, was during the lead-up to the Civil War. Bethel University history professor and Patheos blogger Chris Gehrz provides a detailed rundown of the numerous ways the verse was interpreted by pro-slavery advocates both to perpetuate the institution of slavery and to advocate for, for example, the forcible return of fugitive slaves. Thus in 1855 did a Virginia newspaper editor express disappointment that Northern preachers were facilitating the escape of fugitives, saying: “The human law must accord with the Divine Law in order to render obedience a duty! They do not condescend to inform us who is to be the judge of that accordance. They dare not.”

(According to Gehrz’s data, references to Romans 13 in national media reached a notable peak in the early 1840s, right as debates over slavery were heating up.) In both cases, Romans 13 has been used to justify the position that Christians are required to submit to government authority, regardless of their own moral positions.

The Trump administration frequently uses Romans 13 — and the Bible more generally — to promote a kind of Christian nationalism

This is not the first time someone in the inner circle of the Trump administration has used Romans 13 to justify Trump’s authority. Last summer, for example, pastor Robert Jeffress — one of the most influential members of Trump’s unofficial evangelical advisory council — cited Romans to say that God had given Trump the “authority to do whatever,” up to and including nuclear war, when it came to dealing with North Korea.

Another closely Trump-affiliated pastor, the prosperity gospel preacher Paula White, advocated that Trump was chosen by God more generally, emphasizing in interviews that Trump was “raised up by the hand of God” and those that opposed him were fighting God himself. (She laterwalked backher comments.)

In other words, this is nothing new. Trump, and the evangelical apparatus that supports him — from his evangelical advisory council to Pat Roberton’s Christian Broadcasting Network, whose journalistically dubious news programs doubled as theological propaganda for the Trump administration — has systematically promoted a theology that promotes political submission as an act of Christian duty. Evangelicals have compared Trump to thePersian biblical king Cyrus, and suggested (and even made films arguing) that hispresidency was prophesied.

This latest use of Romans should be read — like Romans itself — within its historical context. The Trump administration is using a distinctive and reductionist biblical reading affiliated with slavery advocates and British Loyalists to prop up a wider strategy of religiously infused propaganda. In so doing, they’re strengthening the already ironclad relationship between GOP party politics and white evangelicalism — and promoting a Christian nationalist agenda that’s far more nationalist than Christian….”

The problem is, there is much more to the story. It began on June 13, 2018, when Catholic bishops threatened the Trump Administration for daring to crack down on illegal immigrants. They basically threatened to withdraw communion. If you read between the lines, socialist Francis I, is up to his eyeballs in the decree. The Pope hates borders. He hates nationalism and populism. He is basically the Catholic shill for George Soros. Anyway – THEY started this.

“…Some bishops followed by urging protests, including “canonical penalties” for those who carry out the administration’s new rules. Within minutes of opening the USCCB’s biannual meeting in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday (June 13), Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the USCCB and archbishop of Galveston-Houston, read aloud a statement deeply critical of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent announcement regarding asylum qualifications.

“At its core, asylum is an instrument to preserve the right to life,” DiNardo said, reading from the statement. “The Attorney General’s recent decision elicits deep concern because it potentially strips asylum from many women who lack adequate protection.

“This decision negates decades of precedents that have provided protection to women fleeing domestic violence,” DiNardo continued. “We urge courts and policy makers to respect and enhance, not erode, the potential of our asylum system to preserve and protect the right to life.”

On Monday, Sessions reversed an immigration appeals court decision granting asylum to a Salvadoran woman who had claimed domestic abuse in her home country. His ruling effectively overturned an Obama administration practice of allowing women with credible claims of domestic abuse or those fleeing gang violence to seek asylum in the United States.

DiNardo also criticized the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy, announced in May, which calls for prosecuting all those who cross the border illegally and separating children immigrating with parents from their families….”

If Sessions had kept his big mouth shut, we wouldn’t be in this mess, but he couldn’t do it. The agitation began on June 10. By June 14, Sessions had opened his big fat mouth. No one paid a bit of attention to the fact that he was trying to defend himself against the Church. Then the Council of Bishops of the African Episcopal Methodist Church attacked and called Trump supporters a cult.

“…From lies to liberation: the use of Scripture to justify injustice

The recent statement of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and the attempt by White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to use biblical text of Romans 13:1, to justify and condone the U.S. government’s separations of immigrant children from their parents, in addition to being sad and sinful, shows a deep misunderstanding of the transforming truth of scripture.

We have heard much about the political cult of Mr. Donald Trump over the past few days. Students of cults understand that they abuse and misuse the truth of religious documents to control people and to bend their will. This practice of using “proof text” — scriptural text out of context to achieve some wicked end — is as ancient as the temptation of Jesus by Satan in the Wilderness (Luke 4). The founders of this nation used the same tactics to enslave our African forebears by lifting from the writings of the Apostle Paul passages to condone slavery and to break their spirit. It was only after hearing the true liberating message of the Gospel that they could sing with resolve, “Before I’ll be a slave, I’ll be buried in my grave, and go home to my Lord and be free.”

The statement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Press Secretary Huckabee Sanders is a reminder of the recurring themes of the Trump Administration on African nations and immigrants to America. The Bible does not justify discrimination masked as racism, sexism, economic inequality, oppression or the abuse of children. Jesus, who was an immigrant who had to leave the place of his birth and immigrate to Egypt because of an oppressive leader and system, admonishes all that the poor, children, the elderly, widows, and widowers should have a special place of justice and compassion in every nation. (Matthew 24) The Bible says that we are not to envy our oppressors or to choose their ways. (Proverbs 3:31) “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)

Why are so many white evangelicals deafeningly silent on the need to find a positive resolution to the Dreamer’s situation? Why are Black and Brown immigrants living in America with fear that the American dream has become a nightmare for the least, the last and the left out?

The Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church reiterate our support for the “Faith Leaders’ Statement on Family Separation” signed with our ecumenical partners and join with the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops and other concerned bodies of faith who decry these statements and the abuse of scripture.
We join with the members of both parties in calling for a just policy for these children and their parents. We challenge Speaker Paul Ryan, the Republican majority, and Democrats to join in reprimanding Attorney General Sessions, and then work together to bring justice to these children and their parents. Finally, we close with the words of Deuteronomy 10: 18-19, “God executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and loves the strangers (immigrants) … You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”...”

I think Jeff Sessions is a top-secret Democratic operative within the Trump Administration, whose position is to destroy President Trump. He’s doing a good job at it. But, enough is enough. When the use of a passage, especially Biblical, was limited to a twenty or thirty year period, over 150 years ago, no one is going to reference it as something quite esoteric.  NO one has touched the slavery nuance for that long.