In a letter Monday, United Methodist Church clergy and lay leaders accused the attorney general — a member of their denomination — of violating church laws.
More than 600 clergy and lay leaders from the United Methodist Church have accused Attorney General Jeff Sessions of violating church law in connection to his role in enforcing and promoting US immigration policies, including the separation of immigrant children apprehended with their parents at the US–Mexico border.
In a letter Monday, the group said that as a member of the United Methodist church, Sessions had violated the denomination’s Book of Discipline by advocating for and implementing practices that separate young immigrant children from their parents, and called on leaders of the Alabama and Northern Virginia congregations — to which Sessions belongs — to address their formal complaint against the attorney general.
“While we are reticent to bring a formal complaint against a layperson,” the letter said, “Mr. Sessions’ unique combination of tremendous social/political power, his leading role as a Sunday School teacher and former delegate to General Conference, and the severe and ongoing impact of several of his public, professional actions demand that we, as his siblings in the United Methodist denomination, call for some degree of accountability.”
“As members of the United Methodist Church, we deeply hope for a reconciling process that will help this long-time member of our connection step back from his harmful actions and work to repair the damage he is currently causing to immigrants, particularly children and families,” the letter added.
Citing Paragraph 2702.3 of the 2016 United Methodist Book of Discipline, the complaint specifically accuses Sessions of child abuse, immorality, and racial discrimination in connection with his support for an array of Justice Department policies on immigration and other issues, including the detention of immigrant children, the decision to refuse asylum to immigrants fleeing gang or domestic violence, and the attorney general’s declared intent to stop investigations into police departments accused of racial discrimination.
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