Senator praises ministry

Published 1:38 am Saturday, October 29, 2011

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) talks with Crossover Ministry’s Todd Sasser during a tour Friday.


U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions came to Covington County yesterday to tour Crossover Ministry, the eight-month, faith-based addiction recovery center in Opp.

And one of the things he heard very quickly is that this is a program with an approximate annual budget of $264,000 that’s not looking for help from the government.

“We say unapologetically that this is a ministry,” Crossover director Todd Sasser explained. “We don’t accept money from the state federal or local government because we don’t want the government telling us how to run it. We run 100 percent on private donations. And what an awesome thing that is that we live in a community that will support us.”

Sessions, a former U.S. Attorney, talked about his experiences in prosecuting drug cases beginning in 1975. After touring the facility, which runs separate programs for men and women, he talked with the current class members about the seriousness of addiction and the role programs like this one have in helping people overcome addiction.

“We had heard great things about this program,” Sessions said, adding that he began prosecuting drug cases in 1975.

“I really believe people do and can overcome addictions,” he said. “Some are more likely to be addicted than others. In other words, if two people try the same drug, one may be more likely to become addicted than the other. I understand that it is may be more difficult to overcome for some.”

Faith can play a large role in an individual’s recovery, he said.

“It’s important for you to know that people care about you,” he said.

And how rare is it for him to visit some place that really doesn’t want money from Washington?

“Very rare,” he said. “Everybody would like a share of what’s coming out of Washington.

“You made a big decision and a commitment that this will be explicitly a Christian organization,” he said. “If this were a government-run program, it would cost more per month and offer less benefits,” he said.

Sessions said most lawmakers in Washington have “no idea” how important religion is to “millions and millions of Americans.”

When asked if the government could “back off” the separation of church and state, Sessions said, “The Constitution is pretty clear on that,” he said. “It says, ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’

“The people ratified this contract with the government,” he said, adding that when it was ratified, “they had no idea it would mean you couldn’t talk about God or Jesus in a public place.”

Representatives of local law enforcement, government and members of Crossover’s board of directors also participated in the tour.