On Scripture and Politicians

Tornillo Texas is on the outskirts of my hometown of El Paso and currently is housing hundreds of children who were separated from their parents while crossing the border. There has been a huge outcry such that the government is now claiming that these children will be reunited with their parents. In the midst of this crisis Attorney General Jeff Sessions used a quote from the Bible to essentially tell us to be quiet and obey the government.

Politicians quoting from any sort of Scripture is problematic. In part, it seems to fly in the face of the idea of separation of church and state. But more offensive to me is the indiscriminate use of scripture to justify some controversial government programs.

Regarding the Bible, I have read it 5 times and find it to be an impressive but complicated book in which it is easy to take quotes out of context to justify a political position. For example, in exhorting us to behave and support the government in its decisions regarding immigrants, Mr. Sessions conveniently avoided other parts of the Bible. The Book of Deuteronomy for example tells us that God “Loves the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing. So too you must show love to foreigners.” The Gospel of Matthew quotes Jesus as saying “I was a stranger and you took me in.” These and other parts of scripture were conveniently  ignored by Mr. Sessions.

In a letter I recently wrote to the New York Times I suggested a constitutional amendment to prevent politicians from quoting the Bible, Torah, Quran or any other sacred writings. These issues before us are complicated and while we need to respond in a manner consistent with any holy scripture, the dialogue is not advanced by politicians quoting such scripture.

I am all for persons of power governing from a spiritual perspective. Lord knows they need the help of God, Yahweh, Allah and any other spiritual beings to govern with wisdom and not get caught up in the Dark Side of power. I just don’t trust that they will quote scripture to further the dialogue. As Shakespeare said, “The Devil can cite scripture for his purpose.”

About richp45198

I am a clinical psychologist and have an abiding interest in matters spiritual.
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4 Responses to On Scripture and Politicians

  1. Margie Sanchez says:

    Dr. Patterson, thank you for your post on what is going on in our community. I thought that I had witness many injustices, but I continue to learn that I have not. I pray that the lessons that we are suppose to learn from all that is going on are lessons that tell us that we can not give up and we must continue to work on making changes needed. Once more, thank you! Margie

  2. Bill says:

    Great article, Rich. Our next concern may be the divine right of Trump !

  3. Michele Osborn says:

    Hi Rich,

    Thank you for your love and concern for these children. We show our love for Jesus by loving “the least of these”. This is a sensitive subject but please allow me to react freely without censoring myself for “political correctness”. Make it illegal for politicians to quote scripture? To me that would be the beginning of removing all scripture from our culture which would be the ultimate manifestation of hell – total separation from God. Jesus did not suggest removing all expressions of God via scripture when the Pharisees misused scripture to control the people. On the contrary, he showed us how to bring God IN to the situation even more by loving our neighbors which include strangers, foreigners, Samaritan’s and yes, even Pharisees.

    This is a very difficult situation with immigration. It is my understanding that the legal immigration process does not remove children from their parents. When adults are arrested because they broke a law, their children who are present do not go to jail with them. In order to prevent more adults from jeopardizing their children by illegally entering the United States, there needs to be more protection for the children by protecting them from the lure of illegal immigration. Stronger borders with more efficient LEGAL immigration processes would help parents who are wanting a better life to be able to come to this wonderful country without endangering themselves or their children.

    This is not a new law recently put into place. This president is the one who has the courage to make changes to this law for the good of the people on both sides of the border. Previous administrations failed to do anything about it which perpetuated the problem.

    And finally, as rotten and evil as some politicians are, I have to believe that none of them want traumatized, screaming children. I don’t think that’s on anybody’s agenda. If it is, God help them.

    Thank you for letting me express my thoughts.

    Love, always the love!
    Michele O

  4. Susan Bass says:

    War and certain immigration policies take away the most powerful of all parental rights and illusions-that one can protect their children from danger.

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