Jeff Sessions’ disastrous immigration policies are generating criticism from his own church. According to BuzzFeed News, over 600 clergy and lay leaders from the United Methodist Church filed complaints against Sessions for violating church law through his border politics.
This group argued in a letter on Monday that Sessions defied the Christian denomination’s Book of Discipline through his practice of separating families at the border. “While we are reticent to bring a formal complaint against a layperson,” the letter reads, per BuzzFeed, “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."
The complaint accuses the Attorney General of child abuse, immorality, and racial discrimination stemming from his support of detaining children, his refusal to grant asylum to domestic violence survivors, and his intent to no longer investigate racial discrimination cases involving police.
“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.
Sessions is the leading force of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on immigration. According to US Department of Homeland Security, 1,995 children have been separated from their parents between April 19 and May 31.
The complaint from Sessions’ fellow Methodists also accuses the AG of “dissemination of doctrines contrary to the standards of doctrine of the United Methodist Church,” because he used a bible verse to justify his position on prosecuting everyone who crosses the border.
“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 reads. “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.”
Though it’s rare, complaints like these against a member of the UMC can lead to expulsion from the church.