According to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Bible justifies ripping migrant children from their parents’ arms. Last week Sessions cited apostle Paul’s “clear and wise command” when defending the administration’s new practice. Sessions also said that the Trump administration policy of separating families is “not unusual or unjustified.”
Sessions is a lifelong practicing Methodist, but he has upset and alienated many other members of the Methodist church who are now striking back at him over his anti-immigrant policies and his cruel enforcement of immigration laws.
On Tuesday a group of Methodists took steps whereby they seek to formally charge the Attorney General with child abuse.
More than 600 United Methodist clergy and church members have signed a letter saying they want to bring formal church charges against Sessions for his role in the Justice Department’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy and the cruel practice of separating children from their parents.
Sessions is a member of the Ashland Place United Methodist Church in Mobile, Alabama. The church members and clergy are charging him with child abuse, immorality, racial discrimination and “dissemination of doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrines” of the United Methodist 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 read. “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.”
The Reverend David Wright organized the effort to charge Sessions, and he said that these types of charges are “very, very rare.”
“A week ago, I couldn’t have imagined doing this,” Wright said.
The letter, signed by 639 United Methodist clergy and laity members, said the child abuse charge was for “separating thousands of young children from their parents and holding thousands of children in mass incarceration facilities.”
The letter also referred to Sessions’s use of a Bible verse from Romans 13 last week to justify his cruel policy of separating families, saying it was “in stark contrast to supporting freedom of conscience and resistance to unjust laws.” The United Methodist Church called the Trump administration policy “antithetical to the teachings of Christ.”
Wright also added that the goal of the letter asking for charges is simply to start a dialogue with him.
“We’re hoping for a change in Mr. Sessions’s heart,” Wright said. “That he will not only step back and stop the things he’s doing with his social and political power that are causing such significant harm but that he would then use his power to bring repair, bring healing and reunite families.”
Well, we hope that Mr. Sessions will have a change of heart also, but we’re not holding our breath while we wait for this to happen.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.