Faith leaders from the New England Conference of The United Methodist Church are urging parishioners to contact their congressional delegates to voice concern about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s “horrifying treatment” of immigrant families crossing the southern border into the United States.
During an annual gathering of area clergy and church members in New Hampshire this month, a resolution was passed demanding the US Department of Justice, which is overseen by Sessions, to “discontinue the separation of families” under its zero-tolerance policy on illegal immigration.
“With this resolution, we pledge not to look away from the horrors, but to watch and bear witness,” the document said. “We pledge to hold responsible those who continue to use the power of the state to traumatize children and adults alike, inflicting lasting psychological damage by taking children away from their families at the border.”
On Wednesday afternoon, President Trump signed an executive order ending the separation process, according to the Associated Press.
The resolution drafted by New England Methodists also pledged to “decry the use of faith language and biblical passages to justify” the separation of young children from their parents.
In June, Sessions, who is a member of the Methodist Church, defended the Trump administration’s practice by quoting biblical scripture, according to the Washington Post.
But members of the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church said in its resolution that Sessions “weaponized” the passage — and that there’s “no interpretation of Scripture, no mandate from Jesus, and no legitimate form of Christian practice” to support “tearing apart families.”
Church members said “those seeking to justify slavery in America, those seeking to justify Apartheid in South Africa, and those seeking to justify the atrocities of the Third Reich” similarly quoted the scripture used by Sessions — Romans 13 — to “defend their reign of terror.”
“We are a people trained to read the Bible in context,” the resolution said, “and condemn the use of scripture to justify harm in the name of God.”
A copy of the resolution was sent to every congressional delegation throughout New England, and to the Department of Justice, according to church members.
It was passed two days before hundreds of Methodists from around the country signed a letter supporting a formal complaint filed against Sessions with the church.
The complaint and letter accuse Sessions of child abuse, immorality, racial discrimination, as wells as “the misuse of Romans 13” to support the controversial immigration crackdown, according to the Washington Post.
The Rev. Allen Ewing-Merrill, of Maine, was one of several members of the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church to sign the national letter and support the local resolution.