According to the United Methodist Book of Discipline, Attorney General Jeff Sessions could face losing his church membership if a resolution is not reached on the issue of his “zero-tolerance” immigration policy that separates children from their parents.
John Feagins, an ordained UMC elder in the Rio Texas Conference who has taught church polity to pastors, said the letter sets in motion a process that allows a pastor or district superintendent to resolve the issue with the accused pastorally, possibly through a process involving a third-party mediator that United Methodists call “just resolution.” Just resolution focuses on “repairing any harm to people and communities, achieving real accountability by making things right in so far as possible and bringing healing to all the parties,” according to the Book of Discipline.
Should the parties fail to reach a resolution, the case would proceed to a committee on investigation, or even further to a church trial.
In a worst-case scenario, the court could remove him or her from membership, but the denomination’s rulebook also makes allowances for lesser punishments. That could include things like losing the ability to hold office as a delegate or teach Sunday school.
The complaint, filed Monday, accused Sessions of child abuse, immorality, racial discrimination and “dissemination of doctrines contrary to the standards of doctrine of the United Methodist Church.”
“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 certain of his public, professional actions demand that we, as his siblings in the United Methodist denomination, call for some degree of accountability.”