Attorney General Jeff Sessions is being called out within his own church. Sessions, a Methodist, has used the Bible to justify the Trump administration’s family separation policy, and more than 600 of his fellow Methodists have filed church charges against him for both parts of that: taking children from their parents and calling it biblical. “While we are reticent to bring a formal complaint against a layperson,” they write, “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.”
Under the terms of paragraph 2702.3 of the 2016 United Methodist Book of Discipline, the letter charges Sessions with child abuse for separating children from their families; immorality for that practice, for “the use of violence against children to deter immigration,” for “refusal of refugee/asylee status to those fleeing gang or sexual violence,” and more; racial discrimination; and for his “Dissemination of doctrines contrary to the standards of doctrine of the United Methodist Church” in citing the Bible to justify family separation. They go on to write that, while Sessions is not the only official responsible for the policy, he is:
… particularly accountable to us, his church. He is ours, and we are his. 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 letter is addressed to the pastors of Sessions’s home church and his district superintendents and bishops and signed by 12 members of the clergy and laity from Alabama specifically; more than 300 of the signers are clergy.