3. Some of Trump's Evangelical Advisors Opposed the Policy
Evangelical Christians, who backed the president overwhelmingly in the last election and have largely supported his agenda thus far, have spoken out against the family separation policy, though a few have defended it.
In a letter to legislators, the conservative Faith & Freedom Coalition said that immigration legislation from Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and House leadership is imperfect, yet called for an immediate solution to the administration's policy of detaining children at the border.
"The separation of families illegally crossing the border is heartbreaking and tragic, part [of] the larger tragedy of a broken immigration system that does not reflect our values or our faith," the letter from the organization's Chairman Ralph Reed and Executive Director Timothy Head reads.
"The Bible instructs God's people to show compassion and love for the foreigner and the immigrant. Scripture combines this obligation to care for the alien with a corollary responsibility of the immigrant to obey the law and respect the customs of the nation in which he resides. How these principles apply to immigration reform is a matter of prudential judgment in enacting sound public policy."
Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, called the family separations "morally reprehensible, anti-Christian and anti-American" in a CNN interview Tuesday. Likewise, Pastor Ronnie Floyd, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, tweeted his disapproval, stating that "[s]eparating children from their parents is just not right. We must be better than this."
Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary and executive editor of The Christian Post who sits on President Trump's evangelical advisory board, also criticized the zero-tolerance policy, calling it unjust and unbiblical.
"Biblical justice, and we would hope American justice, must be tempered with mercy, especially when dealing with children who are almost always the innocent pawns in these tragic situations. Children belong with their parents," Land wrote in a CP exclusive Wednesday.
Earlier this month, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities formed a coalition along with others that asked the president to end the policy, in light of a mutually shared belief that families are "the fundamental building block of society."
Even evangelist Franklin Graham, one of the president's most vocal supporters, called the policy "disgraceful" and noted that he did not support it, though he blamed Congress rather than the president for the policy.
Considerable pushback arose last week when Attorney General Jeff Sessions referenced Romans 13 as legitimate grounds for the zero tolerance policy in a speech, noting that the Apostle Paul commanded that the Romans "obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes."
Critics noted that the specific passage in the New Testament epistle Sessions cited has been used several times in history to justify atrocities.
Yet Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University and one of Trump's most consistent evangelical supporters, has defended the administration.
"I've got no patience for all this outcry about how inhumane it is. It's more humane than the way children are treated in the United States when U.S. citizens commit crimes," he said.
"I'm not a minister, I'm a lawyer," he added. "I have a little different view of the world that the clergy does. They wouldn't be good pastors and ministers if they didn't look at the world through the eyes of compassion and maybe some emotion. But I think sometimes tough love is the only way to get real compassion and to get real improvement."
In an op-ed published by CP on Saturday, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, noted that Trump's opponents were attacking him for the border policy but wondered if real reform of the immigration reform would take place.
"[W]hen all else is equal, of course we want families to stay together. But let's also remember that this situation isn't unique to the border. I can tell you from my time in law enforcement: If a parent or parents are arrested here in the states, the children are turned over to Child Protection Services, who holds them until a foster family can be identified," he said.