#JeffSessions is United Methodist, but in case you’re wondering where the denomination actually stands on his #immigration policy, this is a display at the Wisconsin UMC Annual Conference right now. pic.twitter.com/xp6HylrHTq— Sean Douglass (@_SeanDouglass_) June 16, 2018
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a Sunday school teacher at the Ashland Place United Methodist Church in Mobile, Alabama. So it may have seemed awkward to be accused of child abuse by the bulk of his own church after he made such a passionate defense of separating families at the border.
Over 600 United Methodist church and clergy members have signed a letter accusing Sessions of disseminating “doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrines” of the church, as well as child abuse, racial discrimination, and immorality.
These charges follow Sessions’ announcement that the administration would show no mercy to families trying to cross the border, separating children from their parents if needed.
The letter, which was signed by 640 United Methodist members, concedes that while Sessions is not the only person within the administration to blame for implementing this policy, he has greater responsibility as a member of the church.
“While other individuals and areas of the federal government are implicated in each of these examples, Mr. Sessions — as a long-term United Methodist in a tremendously powerful, public position — is particularly accountable to us, his church,” the letter explained. “As his denomination, we have an ethical obligation to speak boldly when one of our members is engaged in causing significant harm in matters contrary to the Discipline on the global stage.”
To the religious group pressing Sessions to act morally, the immorality charge stems from the “oppression of those seeking asylum.” They also accuse the attorney general of abusing children by “[separating] thousands of young children from their parents [and] holding thousands of children in mass incarceration facilities,” and of racial discrimination for “attempting to criminalize Black Lives Matter and other racial justice activist groups.”
Speaking to his sense of religious duty, the letter closes by stating that members “look forward to entering into the just resolution process with Mr. Sessions as we seek to journey with him towards reconciliation and faithful living into the gospel.”
Sessions famously quoted a passage from the Bible to justify the administration’s zero-tolerance policy toward immigrant families, saying that “[o]rderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.” It was a comment that was later defended by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and that prompted angry responses online, with some users even citing full passages of the Bible that go against Sessions’ assertions.
Hopefully, members of the United Methodist church trying to hold Sessions accountable for his claims are successful in their effort. However, one can’t help but doubt that calls for Sessions to admit his use of religion to justify his policies is immoral will produce positive results.
Thumbnail/Banner Credit: Reuters