Jeff Sessions' church condemns Trump administration's 'unjust' policy of 'ripping children from mothers'

Mr Sessions cited the bible to try and justify his policy

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Monday 18 June 2018 17:50 BST
Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen: “illegal actions have and must have consequences"

Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ church has strongly condemned his zero-tolerance immigration policy, saying Christ would “would have no part in ripping children from their mothers’ arms”. It also said he would not shun “those fleeing violence”.

Since it emerged up to 2,000 children migrant children have been separated from their families in just six weeks after Mr Sessions’ new policy was adopted in May, religious leaders from across the nation have spoken out. Such criticism grew after Mr Sessions sought to use passages from the bible to justify the hardline policy.

“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,” Mr Sessions said last week during a speech in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

“Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.”

Mr Sessions, who previously served as a senator for Alabama, has for a long time been a member of the Ashland Place Methodist Church in Mobile. Last week, the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, one of the Methodist church’s organising bodies, issued a statement saying the policy of Donald Trump and his attorney general, was a “shocking violation of the spirit of the gospel”.

“The Christ we follow would have no part in ripping children from their mothers’ arms or shunning those fleeing violence,” it said. “It is unimaginable that faith leaders even have to say that these policies are antithetical to the teachings of Christ.”

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Now, the Methodist bishop with oversight for Mr Sessions specific church, located on the Gulf Coast, has issued his own criticism, saying it “burdens my heart that innocent immigrant children are being separated from their parents”.

Bishop David Graves, who oversees the Alabama-West Florida Conference, said members of the church “look to scripture and our social principles to guide our thinking and actions in regards to social justice issues”.

He wrote in a statement: “Specifically, the social principles state about immigration, ‘The United Methodist Church recognises, embraces, and affirms all persons, regardless of country of origin, as members of the family of God. We urge society to ‘recognise the gifts, contributions, and struggles of those who are immigrants and to advocate for justice for all’.”

He added: “It is heartbreaking to see families separated, regardless of their citizenship. I implore congress and the current administration to do all in their power to reunite these families.”

The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to questions about Mr Sessions’ church condemning the policy on immigration.

Meanwhile, at a speech in New Orleans, Mr Trump’s Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the administration “will not apologise” for the policy of splitting up migrant families at the border – an issue that has sparked widespread outcry.

“We have to do our job. We will not apologise for doing our job,” she said, speaking in New Orleans to the National Sheriffs’ Association. “This administration has a simple message: If you cross the border illegally, we will prosecute you.”

Mr Sessions also addressed the event and said the government “will not encourage migrants to bring children”. He said if Mr Trump was given the funding he has requested for construction of a border wall, the problem of illegal immigration would be reduced and officials would not be confronted by “terrible choices” such as splitting up families.

A spokeswomen for the United Methodist Alabama-West Florida Conference said they could not comment on the frequency of Mr Session’s attendance at church services. She said: “I do not have that information. It is not common for a church to comment on a member’s attendance.”

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