Plenty of criticism has been hurled at the Trump administration this week over the current policy of separating families at the border who are caught illegally trying to enter the U.S. Receiving the brunt of it is Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who announced the administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy back in April after a spike in illegal border crossings was reported. Now the Attorney General’s own church is joining the cacophonous chorus of critics.
On Monday, more than 600 members of the United Methodist Church signed a letter condemning Sessions for “the damage he is currently causing to immigrants, particularly children and families.”
In the formal complaint, the Attorney General is accused of child abuse, immorality, racial discrimination and “dissemination of doctrines contrary to the standards of the doctrine of the United Methodist Church.”
The signatories claim they have an “ethical obligation” to speak out against such actions (emphasis mine).
"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."
They also believe Sessions’ pastors, Rev. Boykin and Rev. Wines of Ashland Place United Methodist Church in Mobile, Alabama, have a responsibility to intervene.
“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.”
What that “reconciling process” would consist of is not entirely clear.
Regardless of what his church has to say, Sessions made it clear he stands by the administration and its immigration policy.
The same day the letter was sent, the Attorney General confidently told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, “We're doing the right thing.”
“We're taking care of these children,” he added. “They are not being abused. The [Department of] Health and Human Services holds them in good conditions.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on illegal immigrant children being separated from their parents: "We're doing the right thing, we're taking care of these children." @IngrahamAngle pic.twitter.com/TqnvsncbZP— Fox News (@FoxNews) June 19, 2018
Back in May, at a law enforcement conference, Sessions also noted that “We don't want to separate families, but we don't want families to come to the border illegally and attempt to enter into this country improperly.”
“The parents are subject to prosecution while children may not be. So, if we do our duty and prosecute those cases, then children inevitably for a period of time might be in different conditions,” he explained.
The Attorney General wrapped up the meeting with a simple message, “If you don't like that, then don't smuggle children over our border.”