CBF leaders join chorus of voices against  ‘outrageous,’ ‘heinous’ border policy 


June 18, 2018

By Jeff Huett

DECATUR, Ga. — Continuing advocacy for immigrants and refugees informed by our Global Missions work in the context of global migration, today the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship spoke with deep convictions on the unjust separation of children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border and the misappropriation of the Gospel to support it.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended the Trump administration’s policy, invoking Romans 13, which he interpreted to mean that all should “obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.”

CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter disagreed.

“The policy of ripping children from the arms of parents is outrageous, and quoting Scripture in its defense is heinous,” Paynter said. “While it is necessary to control the flow of immigrants and refugees into the country, the use of tactics meant to traumatize and inflict irreparable harm to children and their parents is un-American and certainly do not appear anywhere in the Bible I read.”

Alan Sherouse, pastor of First Baptist Church, Greensboro, N.C., and a member of the CBF Governing Board, said in his sermon Sunday that it is faithful for Christians “to use all peaceable means we know to call for a government to reflect the compassion and benevolence reflected in the promises of God.

“We must measure our leaders, our systems, ourselves, against what we know of the promises of God,” Sherouse said. “We are obligated, then, to consider whether what we consider legal is what God would consider just. We are called to advocate, and work, and strive for a world that remembers the promises of God before the anxieties at work in humanity since the Garden. It is in fact the height of faithfulness to question our leaders – whatever their office, whatever their party — based on our ultimate allegiance to God.”

“Unquestioned obedience is owed to God alone,” he said.

Advocacy Action Team

In April 2017, CBF Advocacy established its first Advocacy Action Team to educate, encourage and equip effective advocacy with immigrant and refugee communities. The group is led by Stephen Reeves, CBF Associate Coordinator for Partnerships and Advocacy.

Reeves said CBF’s advocacy alongside and on behalf of immigrants and refugees rises out of CBF’s Global Missions work in the context of global migration to give hope and hospitality to those who are driven by circumstance away from their homes.

“For more than a year, our team has been telling the stories of immigrants and refugees in our midst and calling on churches and individuals to plead with lawmakers to find a just solution to our broken immigration system,” Reeves said. “This new tactic of tearing apart immigrant families — which has been undertaken, in part, to gain an advantage in policy negotiations — requires all people of faith to raise their voices and be heard.”

Other members of the team, including CBF field personnel working with immigrant and refugee communities, expressed outrage about the policy and spoke of the urgent need for churches to speak out.

Greg and Sue Smith, CBF field personnel, serving the first-generation Latino immigrant community in Fredericksburg, Va., said the policy is “both cruel and unjust, if not inhumane.”

“The government is using the policy to prosecute even those seeking protections because of dangerous and untenable conditions back home,” Greg Smith said. 

Sue Smith continued, “God doesn’t expect us to blindly obey laws that are unjust, that violate our Christian values or what we believe is morally right. To apply Romans 13 to the separation of minor children from parents, to criminalize persons seeking refuge in our country, implies that this is in accord with God’s purposes.  Nothing can be further from the truth,” she said.


“Throughout the Scriptures, we’re reminded to care for the sojourner among us, the stranger, the immigrant.  We’re given examples from biblical stories of refugees and immigrants.  Perhaps one of the most pertinent in this situation is when Jesus’ parents fled to Egypt to escape the almost certain death of their son.”

Anyra Cano, a Youth Minister at Iglesia Bautista Victoria en Cristo, in Fort Worth, Texas, who also serves as a CBF Advocacy Outreach Specialist said that while the Church can argue about this policy, including about the meaning of Romans 13, it’s how churches care for the most vulnerable that we see the true fruit of the Holy Spirit demonstrated.

“In the Old Testament we are charged numerous times to care for the immigrant,” Cano said. “In New Testament, the mark of a true disciple of Christ was not how they followed the law, but how they demonstrated God’s love to their neighbors.”

She urged Cooperative Baptists to contact their members of congress, partner with organizations who serve immigrants, and to advocate and demonstrate compassion in their communities, where “immigrant families live in fear every day and are waiting on the Church to be the disciples Christ has called them to be.”

CBF’s Latino Field Coordinator Ruben Ortiz said the use of the sacred Scriptures for political ends “demonstrates a poor exegesis typical of a corrupted and adulterated Gospel.”

“We know that those who mask a perverse decision as a pious one seek the Bible as justification,” Ortiz said. “To say Roman 13 justifies the entrapment of children in cages and the separation from their parents goes against every principle of the Gospel of Jesus whom himself said, “let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them (Matthew 19:13-15).”

He called for the horrific practice of forced separation to end now.

“Before continuing to invest in practices of repression, our efforts should be refocused on being better neighbors to countries in our proximity so that they may improve their own social systems and develop their economies and standards of living,” he said. “At the moment, we have children and families knocking on our doors, and it is disgraceful that we become kidnappers of children to advance politic al agendas. Using children for these purposes is reprehensible, inhumane and unChristian.”


CBF is aChristian network that helps people put their faith to practice through ministry efforts, global missions and a broad community of support. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.

15 thoughts on “CBF leaders join chorus of voices against  ‘outrageous,’ ‘heinous’ border policy 

  1. Why is this “heinous” policy only “heinous” now? This has been going on long before now and due to an out of control border situation – there is no “policy” in effect with the goal of separating families – it is occurring due to the out of control situation, which includes human trafficking (there is literally an underground slave trade going on), dangerous criminal cartels using children to do their dirty work, and numerous other evil and sickening things. Yet, you don’t address that this current situation with the families is a result of that – you just act like it is a mean spirited policy put in place for the sake of doing so. That isn’t true. What do you propose to get this border situation under control so people with legitimate claims of asylum can more easily and safely be admitted? The things the legitimate asylum seekers are seeking to escape are also crossing the border – what good does it do if the evil they are trying to escape continues to take root here because of the current lack of border security? If this is more than just about narrative for you, you would care about that too.

  2. UNHCR could be instrumental here. UNHCR specializes in organizing and managing refugee camps. Refugee camps can be established along Mexico’s southern border. Then humanitarian NGOs and VOLAGs could be assigned the various duties needed. The US has always been generous in humanitarian enterprises and would help contribute to the care of the refugees while a permanent solution is being hammered out.

  3. I agree with ZEE. Where were we on this issue in the past. What about the 10,000 children sent by their parents to cross the border -they have been separated also by their decision. Those crossing illegally know they will be separated. Do these illegals push back the processing of those seeking admittance at a port of entry legally? I wonder but do not know but I am sure you will be looking into it if legal immigrants are unfairly delayed due to the use or limited resources to accommodate illegals.

  4. Can we at least agree that it’s wrong to take children away from their parents, or are the “waddaboutisms,” spurious conflated stories about drug mules, and other justifications just too strong for us to be Christian anymore?

    I don’t care about splitting hairs over “where we were in the past.” We didn’t stop the Native American genocide or slavery, either. Does that mean we can’t talk about the possibility that such things may have been wrong now?

    It’s bad enough the CBF gives the government a free pass to warp the scriptures while everyone’s gathered at a convention, only to discover a tepid sense of outrage after the SBC does. We can wring our hands about “political expediency” at our convenience. CHILDREN ARE BEING TAKEN FROM THEIR PARENTS AND BEING PUT INTO DETENTION. “But my favorite pundit says…” is a distinctly un-Christian response to such a thing.

  5. The Wikipedia entry for the CBF states that the CBF does not issue position statements on social/political issues. This is reasonable since the CBF is made up of autonomous individuals worshiping in autonomous congregations. Despite this, the CBF leadership seems more and more to suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome(TDS), when it comes to immigration and other issues. The Obama administration deported hundreds of thousands of illegal (oops, undocumented) immigrants with nary a peep from the CBF. Enough said about hypocritical positions. Sadly, we CBF members who are all for immigration as long as it is legal, have to contend with horribly one-sided statements coming out of “our” denomi-network central office, all of which statements have one thing in common: blanket condemnation of anything said or done by the Trump administration. Equally sadly, the only way to register our disapproval is by reducing our giving to our local congregation, which I am doing, and will do even more if the unofficial “official” statements from CBF HQ continue to brand all Trump administration policies as “heinous.”

  6. Pingback: Religions condemn family separations but are their charities helping implement them? – ThinkProgress – Latest India News Today | Top News Stories & Headlines

  7. Pingback: Religions condemn family separations but are their charities helping implement them? | LIBERAL.GUIDE

  8. Pingback: Leaders accuse Justice Dep't of twisting scripture to defend separating children from families | My Christian Daily

  9. I will be suspending any donations to CBF missions in light of their support of illegal immigration. These “refugees” are often not refugees. They give canned statements which they obviously have been told to say. Photos of the long lines of illegals who entered during the Obama administration (100,000 “children”) were often filled with young men ages 18-25. Photos from the past administration have been shown as though they were from the Trump administration. Pictures of “children in cages” crying for their parents were actually children PUT into cages in protest movements to gain support for illegal immigration. We are not a “country of immigrants.” We are a country of CITIZENS and a country of LAWS. It is easy to stop this disaster at the border. Tell every parent coming over with children, who we don’t even know are their own most of the time, that they have two choices: 1) They can return home and apply to come legally behind everyone else who is already in line, or 2) They will be separated from their children until their status is determined. The choice will then be theirs. Those who are truly in dangerous situations will be willing to be separated from their children for a brief period of time while their situation is evaluated. International procedure is that all individuals applying for asylum should do so at the first country of entry. In this case, those coming from Central America should do so from MEXICO, but Mexico has very strict policies and will not let them stay. THIS IS NOT A HUMANITARIAN ISSUE – IT IS A POLITICAL ISSUE FOR THE LEFT WHICH STARTED THIS MESS BY LETTING SO MANY PEOPLE THINK THEY COULD ENTER ILLEGALLY. They are focusing on something they think can win the midterms for them. Ask everyone who wants to take in these hordes of illegals if THEY want to house them, feed them and educate them on their dime, and take on all the other costs that the American taxpayer is currently paying for this problem. Give work permits. Do not give citizenship or any illegal entry. We are NOT a migrant camp!

  10. Pingback: First Baptist Church of Decatur blasts federal immigration policy | Decaturish - Locally sourced news

  11. Pingback: ‘Not on our watch,’ Cooperative Baptists say of immigrant family separation | CBFblog

  12. Pingback: 'Opposition to Trump zero-tolerance immigration policy must go grassroots' | My Christian Daily

  13. Pingback: CBF’s Paynter joins women faith leaders to ‘cry out for immigrant children’ at U.S.-Mexico border | CBFblog

  14. Pingback: Reeves: Join CBF Advocacy to support broad immigration reform | CBFblog

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