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Hillsong NYC pastor Carl Lentz criticises Jeff Sessions' use of scripture in immigration debate

by Cara Bentley

In a TV interview with American channel MSNBC, Lentz responded to a question about politician Jeff Sessions using the Bible to justify immigration policy: "it's embarrassing, to be honest, I think everybody – if you have any compassion – think something's off with this."

Last Thursday, the Attorney General referenced Paul's letter to the Romans in the New Testament to defend a policy which has seen more than 2000 children separated from their parents: "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," he said.

Carl Lentz responded to this on a news programme by saying: "When you see politicians, especially using what we call classic misapplication of scripture you just hope you get the opportunity to do this – which is to tell people, in case they are wondering 'Is this Jesus? Is this Christianity? Is this the Bible?', you get to say 'absolutely not'."

Lentz explained how this was taking Paul's letter to the Roman church completely out of context: "This is...a politician trying to use the Bible to prove a point that they want."

The presenter, Yasmin Vossoughian, asked what the passage was actually about: "Romans 13 is...a good scripture, we do need to obey the laws of the land. We do have things that have to be followed with order,

"But if God's moral laws are violated, if the laws of compassion, the laws of just what's right are violated – in this case, the ripping apart of families – it reminds me of when this country had laws that said black people couldn't eat at certain restaurants."

Yasmin Vossoughian interjected to say that the same passage could have been used to justify such laws in the 1950s as well and Lentz agreed. 

He added: "There are times where we have to stand up to what's right, in the face of that law."

"So that scripture, taken out of context, can look like you have to obey what's wrong. You can prove a point of compassion throughout the entire Bible a lot easier than that man could do to approve a legislation that is literally ripping families apart."

He went on to say that he does pray for President Trump but that no Christian should feel like they should support Trump just because 72% of white evangelicals do. 

"It's sad to me that the term 'evangelical' has been, in my mind, almost hijacked. I'm hesitant to use it and that's a shame because 'evangelical' in it's purest sense is people who believe Jesus is Lord."

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