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Methodists Drop Charges Against Sessions Over Family Separations At Border

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter
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The United Methodist Church (UMC) dropped its charges against Attorney General Jeff Sessions, saying that he cannot be disciplined for carrying out official U.S. policy.

More than 600 members of the UMC filed a formal complaint against Sessions in June for enforcing the separation of children from migrant families at the border. Those who signed the complaint did so in an attempt to start an official church judicial process against Sessions that, if he did not relent, could have seen him stripped of membership in the UMC. Church officials said, however, that enforcing U.S. policy as the attorney general constituted political action, not personal conduct, and was therefore not subject to the church’s judicial process. (RELATED: Over 600 Methodist Clergy And Laypeople File Formal Complaint Against Jeff Sessions)

“A political action is not personal conduct when the political officer is carrying out official policy. It was not an individual act,” wrote Rev. Debora Bishop, superintendent for the district of Sessions’s church in Alabama, according to CNN.

“I believe this type of conduct is not covered by the chargeable offense provisions of ‘The Book of Discipline’ of The United Methodist Church,” she added.

David W. Graves, resident bishop of the UMC’s Alabama-West Florida Conference, voiced his agreement with Bishop’s ruling in a public statement.

“The judicial process of The United Methodist Church cannot be used in the matter of United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions to address political actions. A political action is not personal conduct when the political officer is carrying out official policy,” the statement reads.

Rev. David Wright, chaplain at the University of Puget Sound and the author of the official complaint against Sessions, railed against Bishop’s decision and claimed that church officials were skirting the issue.

“As a tradition that has persistently challenged United Methodists to live our faith in all aspects of life and society, this abdication of both pastoral and social responsibility is deeply disappointing,” Wright said, according to CNN.

He claimed that the decision “avoids the most basic level of accountability” and “fails both Mr. Sessions and the denomination.”

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