Rev. Darrell Hamilton, center left, a pastor at First Baptist Church, in Boston, is escorted away by a Boston police officer after interrupting remarks by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, not shown, at a luncheon organized by the Boston Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society, Monday, Oct. 29, 2018, in Boston. Sessions spoke about religious liberty during his remarks. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Attorney General Jeff Sessions was in Boston today to give a speech to the Federalist Society on religious freedom, RFRA, and what the Trump administration is doing to protect religious freedom. Between his introduction and his opening remarks, though, things got interesting, as two of the attendees appeared to have issues with US immigration policy.
Religious leaders interrupt Attorney General Jeff Sessions' speech: "Brother Jeff, as a fellow United Methodist I call upon you to repent, to care for those in need."
Sessions: "Well, thank you for those remarks and attack but I would just tell you we do our best everyday" pic.twitter.com/NUq5HSZZMg
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) October 29, 2018
Heckler 1: I was hungry and you did not feed me. I was a stranger and you did not welcome me. I was naked and you did not clothe me. I was a stranger and you did not welcome me.
Sessions: Thank you, for your comments…
Heckler 1: I was in prison and you did not visit me. Brother Jeff, as a fellow United Methodist, I call upon you to repent. To care for those in need. To remember when you do not care for other you are wounding the Body of Christ.
Sessions: Thank you for those remarks and attack, but I will just tell you we do our best everyday to fulfill my responsibility to enforce the laws of the United States…
Heckler 2: (inaubible) exercising religious freedom. As a person who represents the faith everyone here professes to believe in (inaudible) the words of Jesus himself. The words actually represented in the Gospel…the Book of Isaiah…
Sessions: Alright, we thank you for sharing your thoughts…
Heckler 2: I thought we were here to protect religious liberty. I’m the pastor of a Baptist church and you are escorting me out for exercising my religious freedom. That doesn’t make any sense. It’s very hypocritical for this group of people to be wanting to protect religious freedom when you are escorting me out for doing that very work.
Whatever. Then comes the second part:
Jeff Sessions responds to protesters: "I don't believe there's anything in my theology that says a secular nationstate cannot have lawful laws to control immigration … not immoral, not indecent and not unkind to state what your laws are and then set about to enforce them" pic.twitter.com/oGjtMM67ru
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) October 29, 2018
Read Sessions’ response carefully.
This is how it actually happened:
Hecker 2: It’s very hypocritical for this group of people to be wanting to protect religious freedom when you are escorting me out for doing that very work. And as a black man…
Sessions: Well, we would say this. Thank you all for your comments. We’re glad to hear them. But that is very close to what we refer to as the “heckler’s veto.” The ability of one individual to prevent others, in a proper forum, to express, hopefully, a coherent thought about a serious subject. I think there’s anything in the Scripture and I don’t believe there’s anything in my theology that says a secular nation-state cannot have lawful laws to control immigration in its country. It’s not immoral, not indecent and not unkind to state what your laws are and then set about to enforce them, in my view. That’s my responsibility and that’s what I intend to do. [Begins prepared remarks, see link at top of post for those.]
I don’t really understand what ABC hoped to achieve by editing Sessions’ remarks to make it seem like he was basing his views on his own personal theology, but this is the kind of stuff we’re seeing more and more in the media. They are inalterably opposed to the Trump administration and when they can’t get the quote they need to support their narrative they will simply fabricate one to meet their needs.
Beyond the douchebaggery of the ABC, this was just theater. It’s the type of theater that lets the perpetrators go away patting themselves on the back about “speaking truth to power,” but, in reality, it is the kind of poisoning of the well that leads many of us on this side to conclude that we aren’t dealing with particularly honest or honorable or ethical people on the other side of an issue. This makes us approach all potential compromises warily, suspecting a ruse or trap, and to conclude that others, particularly, in regards to immigration, aren’t acting in good faith. In my view, any obligation we have to strangers and immigrants does not extend to disobeying the law and it certainly does not include encouraging vulnerable people to put themselves at risk to make a trip they cannot afford and which, for a majority of them, will result in them being sent back home indebted to the crime cartels who promised them passage. And a person who enters this country illegally has just as much call on my charity as would the burglar who has taken up residence in my basement.
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