A Cooperative Baptist Fellowship minister said Jan. 9 that Sen. Jeff Sessions’ anti-immigration record makes him unfit to serve as U.S. attorney general.
Alyssa Aldape, associate pastor at First Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., joined nationally known clergy including Moral Mondays founder William Barber and Jennifer Butler of Faith in Public Life in a press conference calling on senators to reject President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the Department of Justice on moral grounds.
Aldape, a graduate of Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology who formerly worked as Next Generation missions assistant for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in Decatur, Ga., described an Alabama law supported by the Republican senator making persons or houses of faith that assist an undocumented immigrant subject to prosecution, “thus making the job of clergy and the command of Christ Jesus to love your neighbor illegal in the eyes of the state.”
Aladape, who moved to Washington in November after a year as interim minister of community ministry and missions at First Baptist Church in Dalton, Ga., referenced Epiphany, a festival celebrated 12 days after Christmas commemorating the story of Magi traveling to inquire of King Herod if he knew where “Jesus, the son of refugees” was staying.
“In the eyes of Herod Jesus could not continue to live,” she said. “In the eyes of Herod Jesus was a crime, but the Wise Men knew better than to report back to Herod. The Wise Men, forever changed by the encounter with Jesus, defied the command of Herod and left home on another path because they knew that what Jesus had to offer this world meant more than a scared king afraid of relinquishing his power.”
“They protected the refugee from the ruler because the refugee was the Son of God,” Aldape proclaimed.
Aldape said the Epiphany story “reminds us that illegal is not a noun.”
“All people are created in the image of God, and thus no person should ever be considered a crime,” she said. “The Epiphany story ought to remind us clergy, everyone here, that the gospel is not a crime. The work of the gospel is not a crime.”
Aldape called on the U.S. Senate to reject the nomination of Sessions as attorney general.
“My hope is that in the Senate those who claim the banner of Christ will remember the Epiphany story and remember their allegiance to the Christian faith,” she said. “No person of faith can stand idly by as the cabinet of hate begins to take form.”
“We can be like Herod and fear our neighbors and react in hate, or we can be like the Wise Men, forever changed by the life of Jesus and follow a path of resistance and resist the empire,” Aldape said.
According to the Washington Post, after the rally about 500 demonstrators marched from the Lutheran Church of the Reformation to the Russell Senate Office Building, where they prayed and delivered a “Declaration of Moral Resistance” to Sessions’ nomination to the offices of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and others.
Confirmation hearings for Sessions got underway Jan. 10 before the Senate Judiciary Committee and are expected to last two days.