Lifelong Methodist and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton joined more than 600 United Methodist clergy and church members in rebuking their fellow Methodist brother U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions for using Scripture to support a controversial zero tolerance U.S. immigration policy which separates children from families Monday.
Speaking at a Women's Forum of New York event Monday, Clinton rebuked "those who selectively use the Bible" to support the zero tolerance immigration policy that separates children from families, in an apparent jab at her Methodist brother, pointing to her biblical knowledge and her experience as a Sunday School teacher.
"Those who selectively use the Bible to justify this cruelty are ignoring a central tenet of Christianity. I went to a lot of years of Sunday School. I even taught it from time to time. I've studied the Bible, both the Old and the New Testament, and what is being done using the name of religion is contrary to everything I was ever taught. Jesus said suffer the little children unto me, he did not say let the children suffer," Clinton said.
"The test of any nation is how we treat the most vulnerable among us. Laura Bush made that case eloquently this weekend writing 'this zero tolerance policy is cruel, it is immoral and it breaks my heart' and she is absolutely right," she added.
In apparent agreement with Clinton, more than 600 United Methodist clergy and church members accused Sessions of child abuse, immorality, racial discrimination and disseminating doctrines contrary to the standards of his denomination in a formal complaint Monday.
"We, the undersigned laity and clergy of the United Methodist Church, issue a formal complaint against fellow United Methodist layperson Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, by our understanding a lay member of Ashland Place United Methodist Church, in Mobile, AL, and an active participant in Clarendon United Methodist Church, Arlington, VA," the complaint begins.
"While we are reticent to bring a formal complaint against a layperson, Mr. Sessions' unique combination of tremendous social/political power, his leading role as a Sunday School teacher and former delegate to General Conference, and the severe and ongoing impact of several of his public, professional actions demand that we, as his siblings in the United Methodist denomination, call for some degree of accountability," the complaint continues.
It then goes on to ask Sessions' pastors to "dig deeply into Mr. Sessions' advocacy and actions that have led to harm against thousands of vulnerable humans" and impress upon him to "step back from his harmful actions and work to repair the damage he is currently causing to immigrants, particularly children and families."
In May, Sessions announced a controversial partnership between the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to prosecute anyone who illegally crosses the southwest border and separate children from parents.
"If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It's that simple," Sessions said at the time. "If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you. If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law. If you don't like that, then don't smuggle children over our border."
In more recent comments, Sessions cited Romans 13 to defend the controversial policy separating children from parents.
"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 the government for his purposes," Sessions said during a speech to law enforcement officers in Fort Wayne, Indiana. "Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves. Consistent and fair application of the law is in itself a good and moral thing, and that protects the weak and protects the lawful."
Some of his fellow Methodists disagree. In their complaint they call Sessions' "advocacy for and implementation of documented practices that indefinitely separate thousands of young children from their parents; holding thousands of children in mass incarceration facilities with little to no structured educational or socio-emotional support" child abuse.
Sessions' Methodist brethren also classify a number of his actions as immorality and racial discrimination and accuse him of misusing Romans 13 to justify his sin.
One of the offenses accused Sessions of, "Dissemination of doctrines contrary to the standards of doctrine of the United Methodist Church (examples: the misuse of Romans 13 to indicate the necessity of obedience to secular law, which is in stark contrast to Disciplinary commitments to supporting freedom of conscience and resistance to unjust laws)."