More Than 600 United Methodist Clergy, Members File Church Complaint Against Attorney General Jeff Sessions Over Trump Administration’s Immigration Crackdown

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions listens as he is introduced during the Justice Department’s Executive Officer for Immigration Review Annual Legal Training Program June 11, 2018 in Tysons, Virginia.
Alex Wong / Getty Images file

A group of more than 600 United Methodist clergy and members are bringing church law charges against Attorney General Jeff Sessions over the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration crackdown — chiefly the policy that has separated thousands of children from their parents along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The group accuses Sessions, a fellow United Methodist, of violating Paragraph 270.3 of the denomination’s Book of Discipline. He is charged under church law with child abuse, immorality, racial discrimination and “dissemination of doctrines contrary to the standards of doctrine of the United Methodist Church.”

In a letter addressed to Session’s pastors, 640 clergy and laity urge “some degree of accountability” for the top law enforcement official in the country, who they say is affiliated with United Methodist churches in Alabama and the suburbs of Washington, D.C.

“We write to you … in the hopes that you will, as members of our connectional system, dig deeply into Mr. Sessions’ advocacy and actions that have led to harm against thousands of vulnerable humans,” the signees wrote in the letter.

“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.”

A spokesman for the Justice Department declined to comment on the complaint.

The two churches to which Sessions purportedly belongs — Ashland Place United Methodist Church in Mobile, Alabama, and the Clarendon United Methodist Church in Alexandria, Virginia — did not immediately respond to phone calls from NBC News.

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SOURCE: NBC News, Daniel Arkin