U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions‘ own church has come out as a vocal opponent of his family separation immigration policy.
The United Methodist Church, which Sessions is a member of, issued a letter on behalf of 600 clergy condemning Sessions and U.S. President Donald Trump‘s “zero tolerance” immigration policy which has led thousands of migrant children and parents to be separated at the border.
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The letter, released Monday, explained that Sessions has violated church law.
“Specifically, the group accuses him of child abuse in reference to separating young children from their parents and holding them in mass incarceration facilities; immorality; racial discrimination and ‘dissemination of doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrines’ of The United Methodist Church,” the letter read.
The church has also issued a rebuke of Sessions’ insistence that Trump administration’s immigration policy of separating families is in accordance to the Bible, as wrong.
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“The Christ we follow would have no part in ripping children from their mothers’ arms or shunning those fleeing violence,” a letter released last week by Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe read.
“It is unimaginable that faith leaders even have to say that these policies are antithetical to the teachings of Christ.”
The letter came after Sessions used a passage from the Bible last week to justify the controversial immigration policy.
Sessions said that the Bible says you should obey the law.
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“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order,” he said.
Henry-Crowe clarified what the passage actually means in her letter, saying that Paul’s Letter to the Romans highlights duties of “love and hospitality” above all else.
While there is a commandment that actions are “subject to the government authorities,” Henry-Crowe said it comes after the passage that says “extend hospitality to strangers.”
And a subsequent passage states: “Love does no wrong to a neighbour.”
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The reverend concludes by saying that Bible verses should never be used to separate families and specifically U.S. President Donald Trump’s “horrific policies.”
She notes those looking at the Bible for guidance on the matter are better suited to read the following passage:
“Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.” (Isaiah 10: 1-3 NIV)
In a statement Monday, the United Methodist Church’s Alabama-West Florida Conference bishop David Graves also released a statement against the immigration policy.
“It was difficult to celebrate Father’s Day knowing these unjust acts were ongoing in this country,” Graves wrote.
This isn’t the only religious institution in the U.S. calling on the policy to be changed. Faith leaders across several religions issued a warning to the administration earlier this month, saying the institution of family is “blessed by God” and needs to be protected.
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“Tearing children away from parents who have made a dangerous journey to provide a safe and sufficient life for them is unnecessarily cruel and detrimental to the well-being of parents and children,” the statement read.
Sessions’ use of religion to justify the controversial family separation practice was also criticized by others, but White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stuck by it.
“I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law,” Sanders said at a press briefing last week. “That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible.”