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'An Attack On All People Of Faith': In Boston, Jeff Sessions Condemns Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting03:02
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Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at a luncheon event organized by the Boston Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society on Monday in Boston. (Steven Senne/AP)MoreCloseclosemore
Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at a luncheon event organized by the Boston Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society on Monday in Boston. (Steven Senne/AP)

In Boston Monday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions condemned the mass shooting that killed 11 congregants at a synagogue in Pittsburgh Saturday.

Sessions' comments were made during an address before members of the Boston Lawyer's Chapter of the Federal Society, the Boston branch of the nationwide conservative legal organization.

As the attorney general began speaking, a few Boston-area religious leaders interrupted him to confront him about some Trump administration policies.

Will Green, a Methodist minister from Andover, stood up and read Bible passages to make plain his stance against hard-line immigration practices.

" 'I was a stranger, and you did not welcome me,' " Green read from a passage. " 'I was sick and in prison, and you did not visit me.' Brother Jeff, as a fellow United Methodist, I call upon you to repent, to care for those in need."

"Well, thank you for those remarks — an attack," Sessions responded. "But I will just tell you, we do our best every day to fulfill my responsibility to enforce the laws of the United States."

As police escorted Rev. Green out of the room, another minister, Darrell Hamilton of the First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain, also confronted Sessions. Audience members shouted him down, and police led him out of the room.

Rev. Darrell Hamilton, right, a pastor at First Baptist Church, in Boston, is escorted away by a Boston police officer, left, after interrupting remarks by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (Steven Senne/AP)
Rev. Darrell Hamilton, right, a pastor at First Baptist Church, in Boston, is escorted away by a Boston police officer, left, after interrupting remarks by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (Steven Senne/AP)

After that, Sessions was able to deliver his remarks condemning the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

"This was not just an attack on the Jewish faith," the attorney general said. "It was an attack on all people of faith, an attack on America's values. It cannot and will not be tolerated."

Sessions' appearance in Boston was scheduled before the massacre. He was here to talk about a key rallying cry for many conservatives: what they view as an assault by the left on religious freedom.

"We've witnessed the ordeal, still ongoing, faced by the Colorado baker who simply doesn't want the government to force him to create art that offends his religious beliefs," Sessions said. "Why don't they just leave him alone?"

Sessions was referring to the case in which the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled that a baker had discriminated against a gay couple for refusing to bake their wedding cake. The baker had argued that to do so would violate his religious beliefs. The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which sided in the baker's favor and against Colorado.

Sessions referred to the case as one of many victories for conservatives. He said under President Trump, "neutral umpiring" in the courts is ascendant, while liberal activism is on the defensive.

"It's a stunning reversal," Sessions said. "Thanks to the president — President Trump — there are two more Federalist Society members of the United States Supreme Court."

Sessions said the Trump administration will continue to fight in the courts — and he promised, like the Red Sox, it'll keep winning.

This segment aired on October 29, 2018.

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Anthony Brooks Twitter Senior Political Reporter
Anthony Brooks is WBUR's senior political reporter.

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