STATEWIDE — Texas pastors are among more than 600 filing a formal complaint against the U.S. Attorney General in response to his "zero tolerance" immgration policy involving the caging/abandonment of thousands of children at the border.
Jeff Sessions has been a Sunday School teacher in the past and former delegate within the United Methodist Church.
Austin's University United Methodist Church Pastor John Elford calls action like this unprecedented, but necessary.
The church formally demanded the federal government stop separating children and parents and process border crossings civilly.
The pastors are also taking issue with Sessions using a passage from the book of Romans to validate his enforcement of the Trump Administration's immigration policy.
"He's taking a verse out of context and using it to support his position, when in fact the position of the Biblical witness is to welcome the stranger, to care for the sojourner, to care for immigrants,” Elford said.
The letter calls the leaders of Sessions' churches — both in D.C. and Alabama — to meet with him and explain how he differs from the church's stance. The goal is to persuade him to change his ways.
We, the undersigned laity and clergy of the United Methodist Church, issue a formal complaint against fellow United Methodist layperson Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, an lay member of Ashland United Methodist Church, in Mobile, AL, and an active participant in _____ United Methodist Church, Arlington, VA.
While we are reticent to bring a formal complaint against a layperson, 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 severity of some of his professional actions demand that we, as his siblings in the Methodist denomination, call for some degree of accountability.
We write to you as Mr. Sessions’ pastors, District Superintendents, and Bishops, while copying our own Bishop, in the hopes that as a connectional system you will dig deeply into Mr. Sessions’ advocacy and actions that have led to harm against thousands of vulnerable humans. 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 actions and work to repair the harm he is currently causing.
Our specific complaints are that, in his professional work as Attorney General of the United States, he has committed the following violations as outlined in Paragraph 2702 of the Discipline:
- Immorality (examples: advocating and supporting the separation of children from their families; refusal of refugee/asylee status to those fleeing gang or sexual violence)
- Dissemination of doctrines contrary to the standards of doctrine of the United Methodist Church (examples: misuse of Romans 13 to indicate the necessity of obedience to secular law, which is in stark contrast to Disciplinary commitments to supporting civil disobedience)
- Child Abuse (examples: advocacy for documented practice of indefinite detention of minors in mass holding facilities with little to no structured educational or socio-emotional support)
- Racial discrimination (examples: stopping investigations of police departments charged with racial discrimination; attempting to criminalize Black Lives Matter and other racial justice activist groups; targeting incarceration for those engaged in undocumented border crossings, particularly those perceived as Muslim or LatinX)
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. Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe and the General Board of Church and Society has spoken out about this, urging Methodists to contact Mr. Sessions, but we believe that the severity of his actions and the harm he is causing to immigrants, migrants, refugees, and asylees demands stronger action.
We look forward to entering into the just resolution process with Mr. Sessions as we seek to journey with him towards reconciliation and faithful living into the gospel.