More than 600 clergy and members of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ church denomination have filed a formal complaint against him, claiming that he’s committed a slew of offenses against the United Methodist Church’s “Book of Discipline” with his “zero tolerance” immigration policy.
Sessions and the Trump administration are under heavy criticism for their enforcement of a recently enacted policy that mandates anyone caught entering the U.S. illegally be arrested and criminally charged for the misdemeanor offense. The enforcement of the “zero tolerance” policy has resulted in thousands of children being separated from their parents and placed in inhumane holding facilities while their parents are detained and tasked with meandering the court system.
Among the offenses the church has charged against Sessions in the complaint: child abuse, immorality, racial discrimination and false use of scripture, which is related to his use of a Bible verse to justify the policy last week. Sessions was widely criticized for those comments, both within the Methodist church and the broader Protestant community as a “misuse” of scripture to advocate for “obedience to secular law.”
“Which is in stark contrast to (Methodist) commitments to supporting freedom of conscience and resistance to unjust laws,” the complaint said.
As a professed member of the Methodist church, clergy and church members charge that Sessions should be held accountable for his actions, especially given his “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,” the 600 Methodists wrote in the complaint.
The complaint is not legal a document — it’s considered a church law charge — and is rarely enforced beyond a meeting between clergy and the accused member, but could result in church expulsion, a historian told United Methodist News. The charging documents were sent to Sessions’ home pastor and district superintendent in Mobile, Alabama, as well as the district leadership and bishop associated with the church he regularly attends in Virginia.
Read the full complaint below: