United Methodist Church Charges Sessions with ‘Child Abuse’

More than 600 United Methodist clergy and church members want to bring formal church charges against Attorney General Jeff Sessions for the Justice Department’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which has resulted in separating families who illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border, Newsweek informed.

Sessions, who is a Sunday school teacher at the Ashland Place United Methodist Church in Mobile, Alabama, is accused by church members of child abuse, immorality, racial discrimination and “dissemination of doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrines” of the United Methodist Church.

“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. 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 read.

Reverend David Wright, who organized the effort to charge Sessions, told Newsweek on Tuesday that these types of charges against a member of their own denomination are “very, very rare.” “A week ago, I couldn’t have imagined doing this,” Wright said, adding that the hundreds of signatures they received were within just 24 hours.

The letter stressed that the child abuse charge was for “[separating] thousands of young children from their parents [and] holding thousands of children in mass incarceration facilities.” Over the course of a six-week period, nearly 2,000 minors, roughly 45 a day, were separated from their parents.

Members cited the immorality charge for “oppression of those seeking asylum” and cited racial discrimination for “attempting to criminalize Black Lives Matter and other racial justice activist groups,” among other things.

The letter also cited Sessions’s use of Romans 13 last week to defend the administration’s policy of separating families and said it was in stark contrast to “supporting freedom of conscience and resistance to unjust laws.” The United Methodist Church called the policy “antithetical to the teachings of Christ,” Newsweek adds.

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