The White House Bible Study group that influenced Trump’s family separation policy

Jun 20, 2018

By Andrew L. Seidel

Attorney General Jeff Sessions ignited a public theological debate last week when he used the Bible, specifically Romans 13, to justify the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the U.S. border. He likely took his cues from the White House Bible Study (WHBS), a weekly Bible study for members of the president’s cabinet organized by Ralph Drollinger of Capitol Ministries.

According to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, significant staff time and resources go into coordinating the Bible study every week. Documents also show that Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, who defended the policy during a press conference Monday, is heavily involved with the WHBS. In fact, she’s the only cabinet official whose direct email address appears on the electronic invitations to the WHBS.

The day before Sessions’ remarks last Thursday, the White House Bible Study held a meeting centered on “The Importance of Parenting and the Course of the Nation.” The first paragraphs discuss “obedience to a nation’s laws” and cite Proverbs 28:4 and Romans 1:32[2] . (There are a number of spelling and Bible citation errors in the packet, including “1 Corinthians 9:27a,” as well as Romans 1:32, which may be a typo intended to cite Romans 13:2, the chapter Sessions used to justify the separation policy.)

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