Jeff Sessions faces United Methodist expulsion
United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions faces possible expulsion from the United Methodist Church due to his actions on immigration policy.
A group of more than 600 United Methodist clergy and lay people say that they are bringing charges against Sessions for violating church policy.
The group argued in an 18 June statement that Sessions violated Paragraph 2702.3 of the denomination’s Book of Discipline.
The group has accused Sessions of child abuse due to his separation of young children from their parents, immorality, racial discrimination, and “dissemination of doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrines” of The United Methodist Church.
The Rev. David Wright is a Pacific Northwest Conference elder and chaplain at the University of Puget Sound in Washington State. He is part of the group that organised to charge Sessions.
“I really never would have thought I’d be working on charges against anybody in the Methodist connection, much less a lay person,” he said.
Under the United Methodist Church’s policy, any member can bring a complaint against another member, with the matter to be settled in an ecclesial trial. The policy, however, is rarely used beyond mediation at a local church level.
Rev. Wright hopes that the process leads to a discussion between Sessions and his minister regarding church values.
Sessions is a member of Ashland Place United Methodist Church in Mobile, Alabama, and of Clarendon United Methodist Church in Arlington, Virginia.
Sessions, who was appointed Attorney General by President Trump, previously invoked Romans 13 to justify the administration’s policy of separating asylum seeker children from their parents. Sessions has said that the “zero tolerance” policy is in the national interest and will prevent migrant parents from taking their children on dangerous journeys to get to the US border.
Sessions issued a memo putting the policy in effect on 6 April. The administration separated 1,995 children from 1,940 adults between 19 April and 31 May.
The policy, and Sessions’ defence of it, has drawn widespread condemnation from church leaders. Former United States First Lady and lifelong United Methodist Laura Bush has said that the policy “breaks my heart”.
The United Methodist Church is America’s largest mainline Protestant church, with some five million members. It is a member of the World Methodist Council, of which the Uniting Church in Australia is also a part.
Image by Gage Skidmore
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor