During a heated debate in Congress about immigration reform, lawmakers took to citing Biblical passages to justify both anti-immigration views as well as approaches that would open a path to citizenship to undocumented aliens.
The development took place during a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing that included religious leaders such as Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention and Bishop Gerald Kicanas from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, according to media reports.
While some of the speakers tried to frame the discussion in terms of basic human rights and dignity, lawmakers such as Texas Representative Lamar Smith cited passages that he said justify a stronger crackdown on illegal immigrants.
Among them was the passage from Romans 13, which states that it is God’s will that individuals should follow the laws set out by governing authorities.
"The Bible contains numerous passages that support the rule of law," Smith said. "The scriptures clearly indicate that God charges civil authorities with preserving order, protecting citizens and punishing wrongdoers."
However, Land and other religious representatives used the scriptures to motivate their support for a comprehensive reform. According to Land, the Bible also teaches us “to care for ‘the least of these among us’ (Matthew 25:34-40), to care for the ‘strangers’ who reside in our land (Leviticus 19:34; Hebrews 13:2) and to act justly and mercifully (Micah 6:8)," quoted by The Denver Post.