Can I still claim Sanctuary?

In the middle ages, outlaws and those wanted by the authorities could run into churches and claim sanctuary. The exact level of protection this afforded varied by location and exact time, it always provided at least some amount of assistance to the man on the run.

My question is, can a man on the lam still run into a church and claim sanctuary? Do churches still have the right to harbor and aid wanted individuals? I’m asking this in the US, but other countries practices would be of interest as well.

From what I understand of the law, no. Posted by a sharp person on my Board:

There was an episode of MAS*H on this exact question. Gotta run now, I’ll look for it later, sorry…

Yes, you can claim sanctuary.

No, the authorities won’t recognize your claim.

I have seen people threatened with deportation because their asylum requests were turned down claim sanctuary in churches, with the preacher’s approval. The autorities don’t like to invade churches, especially to catch people who aren’t criminals, so they are often allowed to stay there for some time. But nothing in the law gives them any real protection, and usually it ends with them surrendering anyway.

The episode was called “A Holy Mess.” It aired during the tenth season.

The issue of sanctuary came up a few months ago, when an immigration activist sought to avoid deportation by taking refuge in a Chicago church. The linked article offers some detail that supports and expands on what Una Persson wrote. It says that the principle of churches offering sanctuary declined in the years leading up to the reformation, and then was abolished (at least in England) in 1540.