Attorney General Jeff Sessions finds it “painful” that more than 600 members of his church denomination have filed a complaint against him over his “zero tolerance” arrest policy for immigrants caught crossing the border. But, he said, he knows he has a lot of “critics.”
During an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network on Thursday, Sessions said he tries to address “legitimate” concerns, but that it was his duty to “ensure within my realm that the laws are faithfully carried out in our country.” He didn’t specify whether he thought the concerns laid out in the church law complaint — alleging child abuse, immorality, racial discrimination and false use of scripture — were legitimate.
“It is painful,” he said. “I have critics from a lot of different areas. I think our church people are really concerned about children – that’s what I’m hearing. I feel it. I think there’s a legitimate concern there and I’m pleased to work with the President to address those concerns.”
He also suggested that if Methodist clergy and laity are concerned about “laws” they should go to Congress.
On Monday, more than 600 Methodists filed a formal complaint with Sessions’ two home churches in Alabama and Virginia and the district superintendents for those regions, alleging that Sessions’ “zero tolerance” policy does not align with values outlined for members of the Methodist church in the denomination’s “Book of Discipline.” While formal church complaints rarely spur any type of disciplinary retaliation, the most dramatic result could be expulsion from the Methodist church.
Other protestant and evangelical denominations have spoken out about “zero tolerance,” Sessions’ misuse of a Bible verse to fortify the policy and the separation of immigrant children from their parents as a result of the illegal immigration crackdown.