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This the second of two posts comparing the United Methodist “platform” (i.e., language from the UM Book of Discipline) with the official platforms of the Democratic and Republican parties. This post focuses on two issues: marriage and national security.

As noted in part one, for Christians living in a democratic society electing government leaders is a stewardship responsibility.

UMNS graphic

Elections give followers of Christ the opportunity act through the political process to advance a “Christian worldview” that promotes justice, virtue, and freedom. In the words of the United Methodist Book of Discipline, “The church should continually exert a strong ethical influence upon the state” (¶164B).

Even so, it is worth keeping in mind that the role of the church and the role of the state are not one and the same.

The official United Methodist Church positions quoted below have been approved by various sessions of the UM General Conference and are included in The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church 2012 (forthcoming).

Democratic Party positions are from The 2012 Democratic National Platform: Moving America Forward (full text in PDF). Republican Party positions are quoted from 2012 Republican Platform: We Believe in America (full text in PDF).

Issues and parties are listed in alphabetical order. The side-by-side comparisons are presented without editorial commentary, except except for one clarifying note.
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ISSUE: Marriage and Family

The UMC
We joyfully receive for ourselves and others the blessings of community, sexuality, marriage, and the family. 

We believe the family to be the basic human community through which persons are nurtured and sustained in mutual love, responsibility, respect, and fidelity. We affirm the importance of loving parents for all children….

We affirm the sanctity of the marriage covenant that is expressed in love, mutual support, personal commitment, and shared fidelity between a man and a woman.

We believe that God’s blessing rests upon such marriage, whether or not there are children of the union….

We support laws in civil society that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman….

God’s plan is for lifelong, faithful marriage. The church must be on the forefront of premarital, marital, and postmarital counseling in order to create and preserve strong marriages. However, when a married couple is estranged beyond reconciliation, even after thoughtful consideration and counsel, divorce is a regrettable alternative in the midst of brokenness.

We grieve over the devastating emotional, spiritual, and economic consequences of divorce for all involved, understanding that women and especially children are disproportionately impacted by such burdens. As the church we are concerned about high divorce rates…. We…support efforts by governments to reform divorce laws and other aspects of family law in order to address negative trends such as high divorce rates….

Although all persons are sexual beings whether or not they are married, sexual relations are affirmed only with the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage….

Violent, disrespectful, or abusive sexual expressions do not confirm sexuality as God’s good gift. We reject all sexual expressions that damage the humanity God has given us as birthright, and we affirm only that sexual expression that enhances that same humanity. We believe that sexual relations where one or both partners are exploitative, abusive, or promiscuous are beyond the parameters of acceptable Christian behavior and are ultimately destructive to individuals, families, and the social order.

The Democratic Party 

We support marriage equality* and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.

We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support the full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.

[*MThinker note: That is, marriage should not be restricted to one man/one woman. A man should be allowed to marry a man, and a woman should be allowed to marry a woman.]

The Republican Party

The institution of marriage is the foundation of civil society. Its success as an institution will determine our success as a nation….

Children raised in intact married families are more likely to attend college, are physically and emotionally healthier, are less likely to use drugs or alcohol, engage in crime, or get pregnant outside of marriage. The success of marriage directly impacts the economic well-being of individuals.

Furthermore, the future of marriage affects freedom. The lack of family formation not only leads to more government costs, but also to more government control over the lives of its citizens in all aspects.

We recognize and honor the courageous efforts of those who bear the many burdens of parenting alone, even as we believe that marriage, the union of one man and one woman must be upheld as the national standard, a goal to stand for, encourage, and promote through laws governing marriage.

We embrace the principle that all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity.

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ISSUE: Military readiness / National security / Arms control

The UMC
We dedicate ourselves to peace throughout the world, to the rule of justice and law among nations, and to individual freedom for all people of the world. 

We believe war is incompatible with the teachings and example of Christ. We therefore reject war as an instrument of national foreign policy….

We insist that the first moral duty of all nations is to work together to resolve by peaceful means every dispute that arises between or among them.

We advocate the extension and strengthening of international treaties and institutions that provide a framework within the rule of law for responding to aggression, terrorism, and genocide.

We believe that human values outweigh military claims as governments determine their priorities; that the militarization of society must be challenged and stopped; that the manufacture, sale, and deployment of armaments must be reduced and controlled; and that the production, possession, or use of nuclear weapons be condemned. Consequently, we endorse general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.

From the beginning, the Christian conscience has struggled with the harsh realities of violence and war, for these evils clearly frustrate God’s loving purposes for humankind. We yearn for the day when there will be no more war and people will live together in peace and justice.

Some of us believe that war, and other acts of violence, are never acceptable to Christians. We also acknowledge that many Christians believe that, when peaceful alternatives have failed, the force of arms may regretfully be preferable to unchecked aggression, tyranny, and genocide.

We honor the witness of pacifists who will not allow us to become complacent about war and violence. We also respect those who support the use of force, but only in extreme situations and only when the need is clearly beyond reasonable doubt, and through appropriate international organizations.

We urge the establishment of the rule of law in international affairs as a means of elimination of war, violence, and coercion in these affairs….

We are aware that we can become guilty both by military action and by conscientious objection, and that we all are dependent on God’s forgiveness.

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The Democratic Party 

After more than a decade of war, we have an opportunity to retool our armed forces and our defense strategy to ensure we both maintain the world’s most capable military and adapt to the challenges of the 21st century….

[W]e have a special obligation to every soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, and Coast Guardsman who puts their [sic] life on the line for our nation. We must send them into harm’s way only when it’s absolutely necessary….

[W]e will continue to emphasize forward engagement in critical regions, while enhancing robust security partnerships to share the burden….

[W]e must address the threat that nuclear weapons pose to our security and to peace in the world. Despite the two decades that have passed since the end of the Cold War, large stockpiles of nuclear weapons persist, and more nations are interested in acquiring them. Nuclear testing and black-market trade in sensitive nuclear materials continue. And terrorists remain determined to buy, build, or steal the ultimate weapon.

[We] are committed to preventing the further spread of nuclear weapons and to eventually ridding the planet of these catastrophic weapons.

[E]nding “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in full cooperation with our military leadership…reflects Democrats’ belief that all Americans deserve the same chance to…serve their country….

The Republican Party

We are the party of peace through strength…. We must deter any adversary who would attack us or use terror as a tool of government. Every potential enemy must have no doubt that our capabilities, our commitment, and our will to defeat them are clear, unwavering, and unequivocal….

We will accept no arms control agreement that limits our right to self-defense; and we will fully deploy a missile defense shield for the people of the United States and for our allies….

We recognize that the gravest terror threat we face — a nuclear attack made possible by nuclear proliferation — requires a comprehensive strategy for reducing the world’s nuclear stockpiles and preventing the spread of those armaments. But the U.S. can lead that effort only if it maintains an effective strategic arsenal at a level sufficient to fulfill its deterrent purposes….

We reject the use of the military as a platform for social experimentation and will not accept attempts to undermine military priorities and mission readiness….

We support rights of conscience and religious freedom for military chaplains and people of faith…. We will enforce and defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the Armed Forces as well as in the civilian world….


Related posts
Worth reading: ‘Forgetting How to Blush: United Methodism’s Compromise with the Sexual Revolution’
What is at stake in the battle over marriage
Why the United Methodist Church cannot condone homosexuality
Bishop Mack Stokes: Holiness in human sexuality
Renewal & Reform Coalition responds to retired bishops’ call to alter UMC’s sexuality standards
Judicial Council says no to same-sex marriage
Bishop Lindsey Davis: The Church in time of war

Related articles and information
2012 Party Platform Comparison Guide (PDF) | Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
What they believe: Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama come from traditions far from Christian orthodoxy | Jamie Dean, WORLD (Oct. 20, 2012)
White Mainline Protestants going for GOP presidential candidate Romney by nearly 2-to-1 margin (60% to 34%) (click tab that says “White Mainline Protestants”) | Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life (Oct. 9, 2012)
In bid to galvanize homosexual vote, Obama endorses state initiatives that would OK same-sex marriage Reuters (Oct. 25, 2012)
Obama campaign releases ad — targeted to young women — comparing voting to having sexual intercourse (video)
The campaign for immorality | John MacArthur, Grace to You (Oct. 1, 2012)
United Methodists uphold policy that calls homosexuality ‘incompatible with Christian teaching’ | Daniel Burke, Religion News Service (May 3, 2012)
The church addresses marriage and sexuality | Thomas A. Lambrecht, Good News (January/February 2012)
Christianity elevates sexual morality (a historical overview of the Christian church’s teaching on sexual morality) — Chapter 3 of How Christianity Changed the World | Alvin Schmidt (Zondervan, 2004 — via Google Books)

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For Christians living in a democratic society, electing government leaders is a stewardship responsibility, presenting followers of Christ with an opportunity to influence government in the direction of policies that promote virtue and restrain evil.

UMNS graphic

In deciding how to cast their ballots, Christian voters should consider reflect on how the positions of the major political parties align with official church positions on particular issues.

The two main political parties in the U.S. tend to disagree more about means than ends, although on some issues significant disagreement exists about ends as well (most notably on tax policy, marriage policy, and issues related to the sanctity of human life).

This post, the first of two parts, compares United Methodist teaching on several major issues with the official platforms of both the Democratic and Republican parties. The side-by-side comparisons below are without commentary, except for two clarifying notes.

The United Methodist Church positions quoted below have been approved by various sessions of the UM General Conference and are found in The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church 2012 (forthcoming).

Democratic Party positions are from The 2012 Democratic National Platform: Moving America Forward (full text in PDF). Republican Party positions are quoted from 2012 Republican Platform: We Believe in America (full text in PDF).

Issues and parties are listed in alphabetical order. Additional issues will be covered in part two of this post.
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ISSUE: Abortion

The UMC
…Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion. But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother and the unborn child. We recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures by certified medical providers.

We support parental, guardian, or other responsible adult notification and consent before abortions can be performed on girls who have not yet reached the age of legal adulthood.

We cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control,* and we unconditionally reject it as a means of gender selection or eugenics.

We oppose the use of late-term abortion known as dilation and extraction (partial-birth abortion) and call for the end of this practice except when the physical life of the mother is in danger and no other medical procedure is available, or in the case of severe fetal anomalies incompatible with life….

The Church shall offer ministries to reduce unintended pregnancies. We commit our Church to continue to provide nurturing ministries to those who terminate a pregnancy, to those in the midst of a crisis pregnancy, and to those who give birth….

Young adult women disproportionately face situations in which they feel that they have no choice [but to abort a pregnancy] due to financial, educational, relational, or other circumstances beyond their control.

The Church and its local congregations and campus ministries should be in the forefront of supporting existing ministries and developing new ministries that help such women in their communities.

They should also support those crisis pregnancy centers and pregnancy resource centers that compassionately help women explore all options related to unplanned pregnancy.

We particularly encourage the Church, the government, and social service agencies to support and facilitate the option of adoption.

We affirm and encourage the Church to assist the ministry of crisis pregnancy centers and pregnancy resource centers that compassionately help women find feasible alternatives to abortion….

[*MThinker note: A 2005 study found that 74 percent of women having abortions chose to abort their pregnancies because having a child "would dramatically change my life." This suggests, at a minimum, that nearly three-fourths of abortions are for reasons of birth control. A 2002 study found that 54 percent of women having abortions had used contraception during the month they became pregnant, suggesting that abortion is widely seen as a birth control "back-up plan."]

The Democratic Party

The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay.** We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right. Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way.

We also recognize that health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions. We strongly and unequivocally support a woman’s decision to have a child by providing affordable health care and ensuring the availability of and access to programs that help women during pregnancy and after the birth of a child, including caring adoption programs.

[**MThinker note: In other words, a third party — either government or government-mandated insurance — should cover the cost for those who who lack the means to pay for an abortion.]

The Republican Party

…[W]e assert the inherent dignity and sanctity of all human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed….We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion and will not fund organizations which advocate it….

We all have a moral obligation to assist, not to penalize, women struggling with the challenges of an unplanned pregnancy.

We salute those who provide them alternatives, including pregnancy care centers, and we take pride in the tremendous increase in adoptions that has followed Republican legislative initiatives….

[W]e assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed…. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or fund organizations which perform or advocate it and will not fund or subsidize health care which includes abortion coverage….

We call for legislation to ban sex-selective abortions — gender discrimination in its most lethal form — and to protect from abortion unborn children who are capable of feeling pain….

We seek to protect young girls from exploitation through a parental consent requirement; and we affirm our moral obligation to assist, rather than penalize, women challenged by an unplanned pregnancy….

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ISSUE: Environment

The UMC
We believe in God, Creator of the world; and in Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of creation….

We affirm the natural world as God’s handiwork and dedicate ourselves to its preservation, enhancement, and faithful use by humankind….

We believe in the right…to property as a trust from God….

All creation is the Lord’s, and we are responsible for the ways we use and abuse it.

Water, air, soil, minerals, energy resources, plants, animal life, and space are to be valued and conserved because they are God’s creation and not solely because they are useful to human beings.

God has granted us stewardship of creation. We should meet these stewardship duties through acts of loving care and respect.

Economic, political, social, and technological developments have increased our human numbers, and lengthened and enriched our lives. However, these developments have led to regional defoliation, dramatic extinction of species, massive human suffering, overpopulation, and misuse and overconsumption of natural and nonrenewable resources, particularly by industrialized societies.

This continued course of action jeopardizes the natural heritage that God has entrusted to all generations. Therefore, let us recognize the responsibility of the church and its members to place a high priority on changes in economic, political, social, and technological lifestyles to support a more ecologically equitable and sustainable world leading to a higher quality of life for all of God’s creation.

The Democratic Party

…Pollutants like nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, and mercury are a threat to human health, and Democrats will continue to stand up to polluters in the interest of environmental and public health.

We know that global climate change is one of the biggest threats of this generation — an economic, environmental, and national security catastrophe in the making. We affirm the science of climate change, commit to significantly reducing the pollution that causes climate change, and know we have to meet this challenge by driving smart policies that lead to greater growth in clean energy generation and result in a range of economic and social benefits….

We understand that global climate change may disproportionately affect the poor, and we are committed to environmental justice….

The Republican Party

…[T]he Republican Party believes in the moral obligation of the people to be good stewards of the God-given natural beauty and resources of our country and bases environmental policy on several common-sense principles. For example, we believe people are the most valuable resource, and human health and safety are the most important measurements of success….

Experience has shown that, in caring for the land and water, private ownership has been our best guarantee of conscientious stewardship, while the worst instances of environmental degradation have occurred under government control…. It makes sense that those closest to a situation are best able to determine its remedy. That is why a site- and situation-specific approach to an environmental problem is more likely to solve it, instead of a national rule based on the ideological concerns of politicized central planning….

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ISSUE: Health care / Medical research

The UMC
…Stewardship of health is the responsibility of each person to whom health has been entrusted.

Creating the personal, environmental, and social conditions in which health can thrive is a joint responsibility — public and private….

Providing the care needed to maintain health, prevent disease, and restore health after injury or illness is a responsibility each person owes others and government owes to all…

Like police and fire protection, health care is best funded through the government’s ability to tax each person equitably and directly fund the provider entities….

The right to health care includes care for persons with brain diseases, neurological conditions, or physical disabilities, who must be afforded the same access to health care as all other persons in our communities….

We believe it is a governmental responsibility to provide all citizens with health care.

We oppose the cloning of humans and the genetic manipulation of the gender of an unborn child.

Because of the effects of genetic technologies on all life, we call for effective guidelines and public accountability to safeguard against any action that might lead to abuse of these technologies, including political or military ends. We recognize that cautious, well-intended use of genetic technologies may sometimes lead to unanticipated harmful consequences.

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The Democratic Party

We believe accessible, affordable, high quality health care is part of the American promise, that Americans should have the security that comes with good health care, and that no one should go broke because they get sick….

As a result of our efforts, today, young Americans entering the workforce can stay on their parents’ plans. Insurers can no longer refuse to cover kids with pre-existing medical conditions. Insurance companies will no longer be able to arbitrarily cap and cancel coverage, or charge women more simply because of their gender. People with private insurance are getting preventive services like cancer screenings, annual well-woman visits, and FDA-approved contraception with no out-of-pocket costs….

The Republican Party

We believe that taking care of one’s health is an individual responsibility. Chronic diseases, many of them related to lifestyle, drive healthcare costs, accounting for more than 75 percent of the nation’s medical spending. To reduce demand, and thereby lower costs, we must foster personal responsibility while increasing preventive services to promote healthy lifestyles.

We believe that all Americans should have improved access to affordable, coordinated, quality healthcare, including individuals struggling with mental illness….

We call on the government to permanently ban all federal funding and subsidies for abortion and healthcare plans that include abortion coverage….

We call for expanded support for the stem-cell research that now offers the greatest hope for many afflictions…without the destruction of embryonic human life. We urge a ban on human cloning and on the creation of or experimentation on human embryos….

We oppose the FDA approval of Mifeprex, formerly known as RU-486, and similar drugs that terminate innocent human life after conception….


Related posts
Bishop Timothy Whitaker: United Methodists must stand against ‘violence of abortion’
How did the UMC come to define health care as a ‘right’?
Book review: ‘Methodism and Politics in the Twentieth Century’
UM renewal leader: ‘The UMC is worth fighting for’
United Methodist Church facing health bill fallout
House Speaker thanks UMC for help in passing health bill
UM pro-life group urges Sen. Ben Nelson: ‘Do no harm’
‘Church and Society’ decries pro-life amendment to health bill

Related articles and information
White Mainline Protestants going for GOP presidential candidate Romney by nearly 2-to-1 margin (60% to 34%) (click tab that says “White Mainline Protestants”) | Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life (Oct. 9, 2012)
2012 Party Platform Comparison Guide (PDF) | Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
President Barack Obama’s pro-abortion record | Steven Ertelt, LifeNews.com (Oct. 21, 2012)
The campaign for immorality | John MacArthur, Grace to You (Oct. 1, 2012)
The Obama Democrats: This isn’t the party of FDR, Truman, JFK or Clinton | Daniel Henninger, The Wall Street Journal (Sept. 12, 2012)
Missed opportunity to vote for life | Rob Renfroe, Good News (September-October 2012)
United Methodist Bishop Scott Jones addresses pro-life event | Connor Ewing, IRD (Jan. 22, 2010)
United Methodists and abortion today | Bishop Timothy Whitaker (Feb. 9, 2009)
United Methodism on abortion | Paul T. Stallsworth, On the Square—First Things (May 29, 2008)
United Methodist Church continues decades-long crawl to pro-life direction | John Lomperis, LifeNews.com (May 23, 2008)
The sanctification of human life (a historical overview of the Christian church’s position on abortion and other issues related to the sanctity of human life) — Chapter 2 of How Christianity Changed the World | Alvin Schmidt (Zondervan, 2004 — via Google Books)

Read Full Post »

Ray Nothstine

The following review is by Ray Nothstine, managing editor of Religion & Liberty, a publication of the Acton Institute.

He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky., and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Mississippi in Oxford.

He also served on the staff of former Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss).

This review was originally published in a slightly longer form on the Acton Institute Power Blog.

Some links below have been added by MethodistThinker.com. — Ed.

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Methodism was once the largest denomination in America. The faith grew rapidly from America’s beginning and has traditionally been characterized by aggressive evangelism and revival.

It has carried a vibrant social witness, too. Methodist Church pronouncements once garnered front page headlines in The New York Times.

Its high water mark undoubtedly came during prohibition, the greatest modern political cause of the denomination. Methodists even built and staffed a lobbying building next to Capitol Hill believing a dry country could remake society.

In Methodism and Politics in the Twentieth Century (Bristol House, 2012), Mark Tooley has chronicled Methodism’s denominational political pronouncements from William McKinley, America’s first Methodist president, to 9-11. Tooley has unearthed a staggering amount of official and unofficial Methodist declarations and musings on everything from economics, war, civil rights, the Cold War, abortion, marriage, and politics.

Tooley, who is also the author of Taking Back the United Methodist Church (Bristol House, 2009), offers little of his own commentary on the issues in Methodism and Politics, instead allowing Methodism’s voice for over a century to speak for itself.

What emerges is a denomination that begins to recede in significance, perhaps because of the sheer saturation of its witness in the public square. But its leadership often trades in a prophetic voice for a partisan political one, and sadly at times, even a treasonous voice.

Methodists not only led on prohibition, but were out in front on issues such as women’s suffrage, the New Deal, and the Civil Rights Movement. While they did not always carry a unified voice on these issues, even many Southern annual conferences and bishops broke with the popular political position (in their home states) of defending segregation.

While support for the New Deal and greater federal intervention in the economy was not rubber stamped by all Methodists, an emerging and often biting anti-free market voice would dominate official pronouncements.

This continues to this day with declarations calling to support greater government regulations, single payer health care, and a host of measures calling for government wage and price controls.

Way back in 1936, one Oklahoma Methodist pastor offered his own advice to some of his brethren:

Why do [these Methodist Reds] not get passports, emigrate to Russia where they can prostrate themselves daily before the sacred mummy of Lenin and submit themselves to the commands of Joseph Stalin?

Soft on totalitarianism

Tooley chronicles the pacifist sentiment that began to overtake the denomination the 1920s. By the 1980s, a denomination that once was harsh in its critique of communism became one in which a committee of bishops would pronounce that “actions which are seen as ‘Marxist-Leninist’ by one group are seen as the core of the Christian message by others.”

President Eisenhower with Methodist bishops in 1959

Perhaps most shameful was the action of several bishops during the American hostage crisis in Tehran, Iran, from 1979-1981.

United Methodist Bishop Dale White said of the new Islamic fundamentalist regime, “I know there are individuals in the Iranian power structure who do trust The United Methodist Church.” White offered assessments of the new regime being “democratic.”

The United Methodist General Conference sent a message to Ayatollah Khomeni declaring that the UMC hears the “cries of freedom from foreign domination, from cultural imperialism, from economic exploitation.” Methodist officials even participated in pro-Khomeni student demonstrations in Washington D.C. and met with (and offered praise for) officials in the new Iranian government.

One former hostage recalled:

Some of the people who came over especially the clergy were hypocrites because they came to aid and comfort the hostages but ended up giving aid and comfort to the Iranians and actually making it worse for us.

Leftward on

The election of President Ronald Reagan naturally sent many United Methodist Church officials into a tizzy. “People voted their self interest instead of the Social Principles of the church,” Bishop James Armstrong concluded. “It looks like United Methodists with everybody else forsook their Christian idealism at the ballot box.”

Some United Methodist Bishops had already declared their denomination much more aligned with the Democratic Party. It was downhill from there for many Methodist leaders, as they coddled the Sandanistas and “Brother Ortega” in Nicaragua and dove head first into the nuclear freeze movement.

President Johnson addresses Methodists in 1966

In the 1990s, one official of the UMC’s General Board of Global Ministries bewailed the Republican Congress by saying, “White, male supremacists now wear suits. They talk states rights and anti-taxes. The climate of hate and violence is a challenge to us.”

Not to be outdone, General Board of Church and Society official Robert McLean declared that the GOP Contract with America effectively “cancels” the Sermon on the Mount. Most recently, some UM officials have joined forces with the left-leaning “What Would Jesus Cut?” campaign.

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Waning influence

Because The United Methodist Church is a connectional denomination, today the growing influence of theologically conservative African is counter balancing what Methodist progressives and political liberals can accomplish. Indeed, the liberal influence has been shrinking for decades. And because progressives have made so many predictable pronouncements, they no longer speak with the weighty spiritual authority The Methodist Church once held.

Dedication of the Francis Asbury statue in D.C. in 1924

American Methodism in 1900 was growing, confident, largely unified, and politically formidable.

One hundred years later, it looks back over decades of steep membership decline and political marginalization, as church officials were no longer presumed to speak for most church members.

In the 1920s, President Calvin Coolidge said of Francis Asbury, one of the first two Methodist Bishops in early America, that “he did not come [to America] for political motives,” but came to bear “the testimony of truth.”

One wishes Methodist denominational officials would not only follow more of Asbury’s doctrine, but his praxis as well.


Related posts
MLK’s address to the Methodist Student Movement
Podcast: Mark Tooley, author of ‘Taking Back the United Methodist Church’
UMW leaders, UM bishops disparage Arizona immigration law, rally for ‘comprehensive immigration reform’
United Methodist Church facing health bill fallout
House Speaker thanks UMC for help in passing health bill
Mark Tooley profiled in WORLD magazine

Related articles and information
The rise and fall of American Methodism | Thomas S. Kidd, Patheos.com (Feb. 22, 2012)
Methodists and politics: A conversation with author Mark Tooley | The World and Everything in It (radio – interview is in second half of the segment) (Jan. 28, 2012)
Same-sex marriage for United Methodists? | Mark Tooley, The American Spectator (June 27, 2011)
Mere-O Interview: Mark Tooley | Mere Orthodoxy (March 14, 2011)
Religious Left despised Ronald Reagan | Mark Tooley, The American Spectator (Feb. 4, 2011)
Wesleyan surge: A review of Taking Back the United Methodist Church | William Murchison, Touchstone (May/June, 2010)
A conversation with Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy | The King’s College (New York City) Distinguished Visitor Series (Sept. 9, 2009)
Review: Taking Back The United Methodist Church (2008 ed.) | Ray Nothstine, Acton Institute Power Blog (April 10, 2008)
Public Pulpits: Methodists and Mainline Churches in the Moral Argument of Public Life by Steven M. Tipton (University of Chicago Press, 2008 — via Google Books)
Turning Around the Mainline: How Renewal Movements Are Changing the Church (ordering info) | Thomas C. Oden, Baker Books (2006)

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Jan. 22 marked the 39th anniversary of the United States Supreme Court’s decisions in the cases of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. Taken together, the two rulings (authored by Justice Harry Blackmun, a United Methodist) effectively voided dozens of state laws aimed at protecting unborn children from abortion.

Sign outside a UM Church in North Georgia

Since then, abortion doctors have performed more than 50 million abortions in the U.S. — primarily for purposes of birth control rather than for medical reasons. On average, more than 3,000 abortions occur in America every day.

In 2005, on the 32nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 abortion decisions, United Methodist Bishop Timothy Whitaker of the Florida Conference addressed the topic of how faithfulness to the gospel and to the Wesleyan tradition demands a pro-life position on abortion.

Speaking to the annual gathering of Lifewatch, the UM pro-life caucus, he called on United Methodists to stand against “the violence of abortion in the name of the God of peace.”

Below are excerpts from Bishop Whitaker’s address, followed by audio of his remarks.

When John Wesley gave the General Rules to the people called Methodists the first thing he told them was, “Do no harm.” In order to show evidence that we are a people who are being saved by God, we should do no harm.

The rule to do no harm directs those of us who are Christians to practice non-violence. A Christian is someone who is horrified by violence, refrains from violence in her or his life, and seeks to restrain violence in the world insofar as possible….

When Jesus was born, all of the angels in heaven praised God and promised peace on earth.

When he grew up he inaugurated his ministry by being baptized by John in the Jordan River, and the Spirit of God confirmed that he was the Son of God by descending upon him not as an eagle but as a dove, the bird of peace.

Bishop Timothy Whitaker

Bishop Timothy Whitaker

He taught the people, saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God.”

As one would expect in a world of violence the Prince of Peace suffered a violent death…. By his violent death he overcame violence. Then God vindicated him by raising him from the dead; and when he appeared to his disciples he announced, “Peace be with you.”

On the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit descended upon his disciples, and the church was born. The church is a community from all of the nations called to be a peaceable people who follow Jesus until he comes again at the end of history and establishes that kingdom where “death will be no more: mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4 NRSV).

We who are the church are called to be a peaceable people. In our practices and in our public witness we are called to make peace in the world. We acknowledge that the ultimate kingdom of peace has not yet been established by God.

We ourselves cannot build the kingdom, but we can build for the kingdom. We can live and witness in ways that can lead to a more tangible peace here and now that points to the coming kingdom of God….

Pope John Paul II made a powerful Christian witness to God’s peaceable purposes in his 1995 encyclical called The Gospel of Life. He warned the world about creating “a culture of death” that is rebellion against “the Gospel of life.”

He showed us that a culture of death is one that endorses abortion, euthanasia, and capital punishment.* He asserted that the commandment, “You shall not kill,” is integral to the revelation of God….

In the United Methodist Church we ought to apply our theological reflection, our pastoral guidance and our public witness against the violence of abortion in the name of the God of peace…

I think that our silence and passivity about abortion comes from the difficulty of being a Christian in America.

The logo of Lifewatch,
the pro-life UM caucus

I used to think that being a Christian in America is easy. I thought it would be hard to be a Christian in a country dominated by other religions, or in a Communist country where atheism was avowed by the state, but I thought it was easy to be a Christian here.

Now I realize that practicing the Christian life in America has its own difficulties. The seductions of American life may seem more subtle, but they are real and dangerous.

In America both the culture and the state view persons as autonomous individuals who have private rights to live as they choose.

But we who are Christians have a different anthropology: we view persons as members of a community who are made in the image of the Triune God and who have both rights and responsibilities.

Therefore, we cannot endorse a woman’s right to abort an unborn child as a morally neutral decision because we understand that the child also has a right to live and the community has a responsibility to care for this child if the mother is unable to rear it….

Can there be any doubt that there is silence and passivity about abortion in our Church?

How often is a sermon about abortion or an educational forum on abortion offered in our congregations? How many congregations are involved in supporting crisis pregnancy centers in their communities or offering tangible support to women with unwanted pregnancies? What kind of pastoral counsel is being offered behind the closed doors of the pastor’s office?….

(UMNS photo)

We who are United Methodist Christians should continue to seek to embody in our teaching, pastoral guidance, congregational care and public witness the preservation of human life, and a protest against the killing of human life, in the name of the God of peace….

It is often said that there is no clear prescription against abortion in the Bible. That is because such a horror is unthinkable and unspeakable to the people of Israel and to the people called the church….

From the very beginning Christians everywhere have felt this revulsion against the killing of human life. As Christians moved into the wider world where abortion was not unthinkable or unspeakable they had to apply the divine commandment against murder to the horrible practice of abortion….

In our time and place, in our own Christian communion, we who are United Methodists also have a responsibility to live according to our first rule, which is to do no harm. Do no harm to the unborn! Do no harm to the witness of the Church as a peaceable people! Do no harm to the Gospel of peace!

Use the audio player below to listen to a portion of Bishop Whitaker’s 2005 address, Do No Harm!, delivered in the Simpson Chapel at the United Methodist Building in Washington, D.C. (8.5 minutes).

The full text of Bishop Whitaker’s 2005 address is included in the March 2005 Lifewatch newsletter (PDF).

The speaker at this year’s Lifewatch service is the Rev. Jim Heidinger, former president of the UM renewal ministry Good News. The service will be held today (Monday) at the United Methodist Building (PDF) on Capitol Hill.

Use of the facility is not donated by the UMC’s General Board of Church and Society, which is a member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) a group that supports legalized abortion. Rather, Lifewatch rents space in the UM Building for its annual service and board meeting.

In a recent press release, RCRC accused pro-life “zealots” of waging a “war on women.”

In conjunction with MoveOn.org, RCRC is currently sponsoring a “Virtual March for Women’s Lives” as part of a promotion called “Trust Women Week.”

Other groups co-sponsoring the “Virtual March” include the Center for Reproductive Rights, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the National Organization for Women, the Feminist Majority Foundation, Fund Abortion Now, and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

In addition the annual Lifewatch service, the March for Life to the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to take place Monday, preceded by a rally on the National Mall. The rally and march draw tens of thousands of pro-lifers each year.

The March of Life events (i.e., pre-rally activity, the rally, and the march itself) will air live on EWTN, the Roman Catholic cable/satellite channel, beginning at 11 a.m. ET. Live online audio and video will be available here.

The March for Life rally will also air live on C-SPAN 2 (live online video here starting at Noon ET).

EWTN will re-broadcast the March for Life events tonight (Monday) at 11 o’clock ET and again on Saturday, Jan. 28, at 2 p.m. ET.

The March for Life has been held annually since 1974.

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*Editor’s note: In The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae), Pope John Paul wrote that punishment of a murderer “ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”

This blog post is adapted from a post first published in 2009.


Related posts
The Manhattan Declaration: In defense of human life
United Methodists praying, speaking, and marching for life
Why aren’t UM leaders supporting the Manhattan Declaration?
Party platforms and the UMC
UM pro-life group urges Sen. Ben Nelson: ‘Do no harm’
UM Board of Church and Society withdraws support for Freedom of Choice Act
Bill Bouknight: The good news from General Conference ’08

Related articles
How a pastor might first broach the abortion issue with his congregation | Paul T. Stallsworth, Remarks at the 2010 Convention of National Right to Life, Pittsburgh, Pa. (June 2010)
NOTE: The Rev. Mr. Stallsworth is president of the Taskforce of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality and editor of the Lifewatch newsletter.
United Methodist Bishop Scott Jones addresses pro-life event | Connor Ewing, IRD (Jan. 22, 2010)
Presentation to the Study Committee on the Worldwide Nature of The United Methodist Church | Paul Stallsworth, Lifewatch (November 2009)
United Methodists and abortion today | Bishop Timothy Whitaker (Feb. 9, 2009)
United Methodism on abortion | Paul T. Stallsworth, On the Square—First Things (May 29, 2008)
The pro-life pulpit | Lynne M. Thompson, At The Center (Winter 2005)
Roe ruling: More than its author intended | David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times—via HispanicPundit.com (Sept. 14, 2005)
Diversity of life: Opposition to abortion spans ideologies and ethnic groups | Gene Edward Veith, WORLD—via National Pro-Life Religious Council (Nov. 6, 2004)
The sanctification of human life (a historical overview of the Christian church’s position on abortion and other issues related to the sanctity of human life) — Chapter 2 of How Christianity Changed the World | Alvin Schmidt (Zondervan, 2004 — via Google Books)
Why is the New Testament silent about abortion? | Michael J. Gorman, Good News (May/June 1993)
‘Durham Declaration’ asks for ‘Scriptural approach’ to abortion in the UMC; Signatories include Bishops Ole E. Borgen and William R. Cannon | United Methodist News Service (March 12, 1991)
Text of the Durham Declaration (January 1991)

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In December 1964, Southern Christian Leadership Conference president Martin Luther King Jr. addressed a gathering of the Methodist Student Movement in Lincoln, Neb.

Speaking about the “Christian responsibility” to affirm that racial segregation “is morally wrong and sinful,” King described nonviolence as “the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom and human dignity.”

The SCLC president also declared that the “God that we worship is not some Aristotelian ‘unmoved mover’ [but] an other-loving God working through history for the salvation of his children.”

Excerpts from King’s address are below, followed by a portion of the audio.

It is always a rich and rewarding experience for me to take a brief break from the day-to-day demands of our struggle for freedom and human dignity and discuss the issues involved in that struggle with college and university students and concerned people of goodwill….

Martin Luther King Jr. ini 1964

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1964

And by and through the grace of God and continued work we will be able, I’m sure, to solve this great problem which is the chief moral dilemma of our nation….

[W]e have a Christian responsibility — in this racial crisis, in this revolution — to reaffirm the essential immorality of racial segregation….

[W]e, as Christians, must come to see not only the unconstitutionality of segregation, but we must reaffirm over and over again that racial segregation is sinful and immoral, whether it’s in the public schools, whether it’s in housing, whether it is in the Christian church, or any other area of life. Segregation is morally wrong and sinful….

Christian responsibility means that it is necessary to engage in creative and massive action programs to get rid of segregation and discrimination in our nation, and racial injustice wherever it exists in the world…..

[C]ertainly some strides have been made that make us all very happy — you’ve done things in the Methodist church that are most significant in this area, and we’re all inspired by it.

I just talked with my good friend Bishop [James] Thomas, who has just been appointed to serve in an area where a Negro Bishop has never served, and most of the congregations that fall under his jurisdiction happen to be white congregations. This happens to be a marvelous step forward, and it is always great to see the Church moving on to remove the shackles of segregation from its own body….

[I]t is my hope that we will move on to get rid of segregation in all of its dimensions within the Church. That not only means the Church itself, but church institutions such as hospitals, such as colleges and universities….

♦ ♦ ♦

I would like to say just a few words about the philosophy and the method of nonviolence, since it has been so basic in our struggle across these years….

I’m still convinced that nonviolence is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom and human dignity…. This way of nonviolence has a way of disarming the opponent. It exposes his moral defenses. It weakens his morale and at the same time it works on his conscience and he does not know how to handle it….

[I]f he puts you in jail, you go in that jail and transform it from a dungeon of shame to a haven of freedom and human dignity. Even if he tries to kill you, you develop the inner conviction that there are some things so dear, some things so precious, some things so eternally true, that they’re worth dying for; and if a man has not discovered something that he would die for, he isn’t fit to live. And this is what the nonviolent movement does.

So, there is power in this way because it has a way of disarming the opponent. But not only this: It gives individuals engaged in a struggle a way of seeking to secure moral ends through moral means….

mlk_smileAnother thing about this philosophy is that it insists that it is possible to struggle against an unjust and evil system and yet maintain an attitude of active goodwill for the perpetrators of that unjust system.

In points, this is the most misunderstood aspect of nonviolence when one seeks to live it as a creed and not merely use it as a strategy. It says that you somehow place the love ethic at the center of your struggle.

People begin to say what do you mean? How can you love those who are oppressing you? How can you love those who are using violence to destroy ever move you make?…

Fortunately, the Greek language comes to our aid in trying to determine the meaning of love at this point…. [It speaks of agape love.] Agape is understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill for all men. It is an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return.

Theologians would say that it is the love of God operating in the human heart. And so when one rises to love on this level, he loves every man, not because he likes him, not because his ways appeal to him, but he loves every man because God loves him, and he rises to the level of loving the person who does an evil deed while hating the deed that the person does….

And I believe that it is this kind of love that can take us through this period of transition and we can come to that brighter day….

The thing that must always console us is that as we struggle, we do not struggle alone. And there is something in our Christian faith to remind us of this: The God that we worship is not some Aristotelian “unmoved mover” who merely contemplates upon Himself. He’s not merely a self-knowing God, but He’s an other-loving God working through history for the salvation of His children.

And there is an event at the center of our faith which reminds us that Good Friday may occupy the throne for a day, but ultimately it must give way to the triumphant beat of the drums of Easter. There is something in our faith which reminds us that evil may so shape events that Caesar will occupy the palace and Christ the cross, but one day that same Christ will rise up and split history into A.D. and B.C., so that even the life of Caesar must be dated by His name.

There is something in this universe which justifies [Thomas] Carlyle in saying, “no lie can live forever.” There is something in this universe which justifies William Cullen Bryant in saying, “Truth, crushed to earth, [will] rise again.”

There is something in the very structure of the cosmos which justifies James Russell Lowell in saying,

Truth forever on the scaffold,
Wrong forever on the throne,—
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
and, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow,
keeping watch above his own.

This is our faith, and this is what will carry us through.

Use the audio player below (or click here) to listen to excerpts from Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1964 address to the Methodist Student Movement (9 minutes).


umsm

The entire text and full audio of King’s address can be found at AmericanRhetoric.com.

According to an article in the Fall 1995 Journal of Ecumenical Studies, the Methodist Student Movement was organized in 1937 and continued until 1965.

The organization was reconstituted — as the United Methodist Student Movement — in 1996.

This post was first published in January 2009.

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On this edition of the MethodistThinker Mini-Podcast, Dr. George Hunter of Asbury Seminary details how Methodism, at least in its institutional United Methodist form, has become what it was once a reaction against.

Dr. George Hunter

In his remarks, recorded earlier this year at United Methodist Congress on Evangelism, Dr. Hunter asks if “a once great movement” — now greatly deficient in New Testament Christianity — “can become a contagious apostolic movement once again?”

To listen to a five-minute excerpt from his January 2011 address, use the audio player below — or download an mp3 file (5MB). (Audio of Dr. Hunter courtesy of GNTV Media Ministry.)

Dr. George G. Hunter III holds the Ralph W. Beeson Chair of Christian Evangelism at Asbury Theological Seminary, where he serves as Distinguished Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth. He the founding dean of the E. Stanley Jones School of World Mission and Evangelism at Asbury.

Dr. Hunter is a graduate of Florida Southern College, the Candler School of Theology (Emory University), Princeton Seminary, and Northwestern University.

He is the author of a dozen books, including The Apostolic Congregation: Church Growth Reconceived for a New Generation (Abingdon, 2009) and The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach the West…Again (Tenth Anniversary Edition) (Abingdon, 2010).

To subscribe to the biweekly MethodistThinker Mini-Podcast, use the “Subscribe to Podcasts” link near the top of the right column.


Related posts
Billy Abraham on United Methodism: ‘There is no common faith among us’
Podcast — Eddie Fox: ‘That the World May Know Jesus’
Podcast — Sir Alan Walker: ‘Christianity at the Crossroads’
Podcast — Harry Denman: ‘Are We Making Christ Known?’
Podcast — Bishop William R. Cannon: ‘The Whole Gospel for the Whole World’
Randy Maddox: ‘Methodist Doctrine, Spirit, and Discipline’
Billy Graham at the 1980 UM Congress on Evangelism

Related articles and information
The Call to Action: A serious conversation | George G. Hunter III, Good News magazine (March-April 2011)
Barbarians in our midst: How the Irish spread the gospel | A conversation with George G. Hunter III, Good News magazine (March-April 2000 — via Thunderstruck)

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This post is by the Rev. Paul T. Stallsworth, president of the Taskforce of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality and editor of the Lifewatch newsletter.

The Rev. Paul Stallsworth

Mr. Stallsworth has served as the editor of three books: The Church and Abortion: In Search of New Ground for Response (Abingdon, 1993), The Right Choice: Pro-Life Sermons (Abingdon, 1997), and Thinking Theologically About Abortion (Bristol House, 2000).

This post is adapted from Mr. Stallsworth’s remarks at a May 2010 public forum on The Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience, a manifesto issued by Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic leaders in November 2009.

The forum, held at North Carolina’s Carteret Community College, was sponsored by the Carteret County Ministerial Association.

Links in the text below have been added by MethodistThinker.com — Ed.

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The first contemporary matter addressed at length by The Manhattan Declaration is human life and abortion. The Declaration puts this issue in historical, political, and legal context.

In the years leading up to 1973, American society had reached a basic consensus on abortion: state laws, more or less, restricted abortion. The states, just before 1973, were routinely turning back legislative attempts to legalize abortion; so the consensus held.

But on Jan. 22, 1973, this national consensus on abortion was shattered. On that day, the United States Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision knocked down all state abortion laws and made abortion available on demand throughout all 50 states of the union.

In 1973, one institution in American public life that stood against Roe v. Wade and against abortion on demand: the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All the other major institutions in our society — public education, colleges and universities, the movie and music industries, prestige journalism, the mainline Protestant denominations — favored Roe. Even the Southern Baptist Convention backed abortion rights.

But since 1973, the abortion debate has continued. And over the years, the American people have become increasingly pro-life. Just over a year ago, a Gallup Poll found that more Americans now identify themselves as “pro-life” than as “pro-choice.”

Today in American society the greatest ally and advocate of the pro-choice position is the United States government:

  • The U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, in their final version of the health-care overhaul bill, refused to include legislative provisions that would protect unborn children from federally funded abortion;

Those supporting the pro-choice position have helped to create what John Paul II called the “culture of death.” The culture of death renders some human beings, especially the weak, “imperfect, immature or inconvenient” — as the Manhattan Declaration puts it — to be “discardable.”

Abortion is ground zero in the culture of death — but that culture now extends far beyond abortion. The “slippery slope,” which some feared would be created by abortion, has become a reality. The Manhattan Declaration speaks to the fact that many human lives are now at risk.

  • “[H]uman embryo-destructive research and its public funding are promoted in the name of science” and compassion.
  • There is “an increasingly powerful movement to promote assisted suicide and ‘voluntary’ euthanasia.”
  • Eugenics, advanced in Europe last century under the doctrine of lebensunwertes leben (“life unworthy of life”), is now advanced in America under the doctrines of “‘liberty,’ ‘autonomy,’… ‘choice’” and compassion.

In frontally challenging the moral truth of the dignity of the human person, abortion has opened wider the door to massive human indignities around the world.

As the Manhattan Declaration declares, “Genocide,” “ethnic cleansing,” “the neglect and abuse of children, the exploitation of vulnerable laborers, the sexual trafficking of girls and young women, the abandonment of the aged, racial oppression and discrimination, the persecution of believers of all faiths, and the failure to take steps necessary to halt the spread of preventable diseases like AIDS” are made possible by a diminished sense of the dignity of the human person.

This diminishment begins with abortion.

So what are we to do about this culture of death — at home and abroad? We begin, at ground zero, with abortion. In the words of The Manhattan Declaration:

We will be united and untiring in our efforts to roll back the license to kill that began with the abandonment of the unborn to abortion. We will work…to bring assistance, comfort, and care to pregnant women in need and to those who have been victimized by abortion….

Our message is, and ever shall be, that the just, human, and truly Christian answer to problem pregnancies is for all of us to love and care for mother and child alike.

At the same time, the Declaration calls on the government to exercise its first duty: “to protect the weak and the vulnerable.”

The Bible, reinforced by reason, demands that the people of God defend those who have no defense, to speak for those who have no voice. So we must defend and speak for the unborn child, the disabled girl, the elderly man.

The Manhattan Declaration boldly challenges: “We must be willing to defend, even at risk and cost to ourselves and our institutions, the lives of” the vulnerable — no matter their ages, no matter their circumstances.
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Read and sign the Manhattan Declaration here.

The Rev. Paul T. Stallsworth helped Richard John Neuhaus launch the Center on Religion and Society in 1984 and the Institute on Religion and Public Life in 1989.

Mr. Stallsworth, a clergy member of the UMC’s North Carolina Conference, founded Taskforce of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality/Lifewatch in 1987.

In addition to his work with TUMAS/Lifewatch, Paul Stallsworth is a member of the National Pro-life Religious Council and serves as the pastor of St. Peter’s United Methodist Church in Morehead City, N.C.

Lifewatch holds its annual worship service and board meeting today at the United Methodist Building in Washington, D.C.

The group rents the space used for the service and the meeting. Use of the facility is not donated by the UMC’s General Board of Church and Society, which is a member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, a group that supports legalized abortion.


Related posts
United Methodists praying, speaking, and marching for life
Why aren’t UM leaders supporting the Manhattan Declaration?
UM pro-life group urges Sen. Ben Nelson: ‘Do no harm’
Bishop Timothy Whitaker: Abortion and the gospel of peace
Party platforms and the UMC

Related articles
How a pastor might first broach the abortion issue with his congregation | Paul T. Stallsworth, Remarks at the 2010 Convention of National Right to Life, Pittsburgh, Pa. (June 2010)
United Methodist Bishop Scott Jones addresses pro-life event | Connor Ewing, IRD (Jan. 22, 2010)
Presentation to the Study Committee on the Worldwide Nature of The United Methodist Church | Paul Stallsworth, Lifewatch (November 2009)
United Methodists and abortion today | Bishop Timothy Whitaker (Feb. 9, 2009)
United Methodism on abortion | Paul T. Stallsworth, On the Square—First Things (May 29, 2008)
The pro-life pulpit | Lynne M. Thompson, At The Center (Winter 2005)
Roe ruling: More than its author intended | David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times—via HispanicPundit.com (Sept. 14, 2005)
Diversity of life: Opposition to abortion spans ideologies and ethnic groups | Gene Edward Veith, WORLD—via National Pro-Life Religious Council (Nov. 6, 2004)
The sanctification of human life (a historical overview of the Christian church’s position on abortion and other issues related to the sanctity of human life) — Chapter 2 of How Christianity Changed the World | Alvin Schmidt (Zondervan, 2004 — via Google Books)
Why is the New Testament silent about abortion? | Michael J. Gorman, Good News (May/June 1993)
‘Durham Declaration’ asks for ‘Scriptural approach’ to abortion in the UMC; Signatories include Bishops Ole E. Borgen and William R. Cannon | United Methodist News Service (March 12, 1991)
Text of the Durham Declaration (January 1991)

Read Full Post »

This Saturday (Jan. 22) marks the 38th anniversary of the United States Supreme Court’s decisions in the cases of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. Taken together, the two rulings (authored by Justice Harry Blackmun, a United Methodist) effectively voided dozens of state laws aimed at protecting unborn children from abortion.

Since then, abortion providers have performed 50 million abortions in the U.S. — primarily for purposes of birth control rather than for medical reasons. On average, five abortions occur in America every minute of every hour of every day.

Many churches will observe this Sunday as Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.

The pro-life prayer guide below, designed for use as a church-bulletin insert, is adapted from material prepared by Lifewatch, also known as the Taskforce of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality. A PDF copy of the prayer guide is here. (UM pastor Chris Roberts has prepared additional material that can be used as bulletin insert.)


On Monday (Jan. 24), Lifewatch will host its annual worship service at the United Methodist Building, next door to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Rev. Dr. Edwin King, a Methodist clergyman instrumental in the civil rights movement in Mississippi, is scheduled to deliver the message.

Ed King in 2009

In the early 1960s, King — then a chaplain at Tougaloo College near Jackson, Miss. — worked (unsuccessfully) to convince white pastors in the area to issue a statement against racial segregation.

He then helped students to stage a series of sit-ins and other protests in Jackson, according to the 1998 book, Lift Up Your Voice Like a Trumpet: White Clergy and the Civil Rights and Antiwar Movements, 1954-1973 (UNC Press).

Denied membership in the white Mississippi Methodist Conference because of his racial views and civil rights activism, King joined the conference of black Mississippi Methodists, part of The Methodist Church’s Central Jurisdiction.

In a 2002 address (PDF) in Charlottesville, Va., King — now a professor of Sociology and Medical Ethics at the University of Mississippi Medical Center — spoke about legalized abortion’s negative impact on black Americans.

Today in Mississippi, two-thirds to 75 percent of the abortions are done for black children in the womb…. [Across America,] the majority of the children whose [lives are] snuffed out in the womb [are] black or Hispanic…. Is that freedom for somebody — or is something else going on?

Fannie Lou Hamer was the first person to talk to me after Roe vs. Wade came down and she said, “Rev. King, this is another racial thing — this is the answer to the civil rights movement, they are going to get rid of black babies.”

Previous speakers at the annual Lifewatch gathering have included Bishop Scott Jones (Kansas Area), Bishop Will Willimon (North Alabama), and Bishop Timothy Whitaker (Florida).

At the 2004 service, Bishop Whitaker said a church that supports abortion undermines its proclamation of the gospel.

“[W]e who are United Methodists…have a responsibility to live according to our first rule [of the Methodist General Rules], which is to do no harm,” he declared. “Do no harm to the unborn! Do no harm to the witness of the Church as a peaceable people! Do no harm to the Gospel of peace!”

(UMNS photo)

Shortly after Monday’s Lifewatch service, the annual March for Life begins on the Mall in Washington, D.C. (map showing route).

The event, which draws tens of thousands of pro-lifers each year, will be aired live (beginning at 11 a.m. ET) on EWTN, the Roman Catholic cable/satellite TV channel. (EWTN’s coverage will be repeated at 11 p.m. ET.)

Go here for live audio and video online.

The March for Life has been held annually since 1974.

In 2008, the United Methodist General Conference passed legislation acknowledging “the sanctity of unborn human life” and noting that United Methodists are bound to “respect the sacredness of life and well-being of [both] the mother and the unborn child.”

The United Methodist Book of Discipline also states that the UMC “cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control” (¶161J).


Related posts
Bishop Timothy Whitaker: Abortion and the gospel of peace
‘Church and Society’ decries pro-life amendment to health bill
Party platforms and the UMC
Bishop Mike Watson: ‘The Methodist Christian Way’

Related articles
How a pastor might first broach the abortion issue with his congregation | UM pastor Paul T. Stallsworth, Remarks at the 2010 Convention of National Right to Life, Pittsburgh, Pa. (June 2010)
United Methodist Bishop Scott Jones addresses pro-life event | Connor Ewing, IRD (Jan. 22, 2010)
United Methodists and abortion today | Bishop Timothy Whitaker (Feb. 9, 2009)
United Methodism on abortion | Paul T. Stallsworth, On the Square—First Things (May 29, 2008)
United Methodist Church continues decades-long crawl to pro-life direction | John Lomperis, LifeNews.com (May 23, 2008)
Abortion opponents speak out during national rally | United Methodist News Service (Jan. 24, 2008)
Pro-choice? Pro-life? | A sermon (text and audio) by UM Lay Speaker Joseph Slife, Gateway Church (UMC), Athens, Ga. (Jan. 22, 2006)
Dr. Billy Abraham tells abortion opponents not to give up | Mark Schoeff Jr., United Methodist News Service (Jan. 24, 2007)
Mainline churches participate in abortion rights march | John Lomperis, Good News (July/August 2004)
UMC holds ambiguous stand on abortion, speakers say | Melissa Lauber, United Methodist News Service (Jan. 24, 2002)
Roe ruling: More than its author intended | David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times—via HispanicPundit.com (Sept. 14, 2005)
Justice Harry Blackmun was active United Methodist | United Methodist News Service (March 4, 1999)
Justice Blackmun and the little people | Mary Meehan (originally published in Human Life Review, Summer 2004)
The sanctification of human life (a historical overview of the Christian church’s position on abortion and other issues related to the sanctity of human life) — Chapter 2 of How Christianity Changed the World | Alvin Schmidt (Zondervan, 2004 — via Google Books)
Why is the New Testament silent about abortion? | Michael J. Gorman, Good News (May/June 1993)
‘Durham Declaration’ asks for ‘Scriptural approach’ to abortion in the UMC; Signatories include Bishops Ole E. Borgen and William R. Cannon | United Methodist News Service (March 12, 1991)
Text of the Durham Declaration (January 1991)
42 years later, clergy who fought racism to reunite | Associated Press (June 6, 2005) — Related: The “Born of Conviction” statement, published in the Mississippi Methodist Advocate, Jan. 2, 1963 (PDF)
Religion and the Civil Rights Movement (PDF) | An address by the Rev. Edwin King (Feb. 22, 2002)

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This post is by the Rev. David Fischler, a church planter in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and the founder of The Reformed Pastor blog.

David Fischler

A New Jersey native, David was born of Jewish parents and became a Christian in college after reading the Bible for the first time.

He holds degrees from Rutgers University and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (Wake Forest, N.C.), and he is currently a Doctor of Ministry student at Trinity School for Ministry near Pittsburgh.

This post appeared in a longer form at The Reformed Pastor and is used here by permission. — Ed.

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The first to present his case seems right,
till another comes forward and questions him.
                                                                 (Proverbs 18:17)

An article in Faith in Action, an online publication of the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Church and Society, highlights the recent release of a study guide on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict prepared by the “Palestine-Israel Justice Project” of the Minnesota Annual Conference.

The guide is one of the most appalling things on the subject I’ve ever seen come out of a mainline church.

In the foreword, Bishop Sally Dyck offers this justification for her annual conference developing such a guide:

The curriculum raises the voices and concerns of Palestinian Christians. Why wouldn’t we listen to the voices of our own Christian brothers and sisters, even if their perspectives might be different from ours or challenge us to see this part of the world from their eyes?

It is true that among the materials used is Kairos Palestine (PDF), which was written by Palestinian Christians. But the primary voices heard in this guide aren’t those of Palestinian Christians, but of radical, far left-wing American Christians, anti-Israeli Muslims, and even known anti-Semites.

The introductory session (of eight) demonstrates where the authors are headed.

It is an introduction to the Kairos Palestine document, itself a theologically flawed, historically obtuse, and morally one-sided statement that offers no recognition of either the legitimacy of Israeli self-defense or the reality of terrorism.

Session 2 has to do with United Methodist responses to the conflict (resolutions, agency statement, the Social Principles, etc.), so I’ll let Methodists deal with them.

Session 3 has to do with the “application” of Scripture to the conflict. It lists a slew of verses, broken out into six groups, without offering any context or explanations as to what the connections are.

It is Session 4 and Session 5 that have me really shaking my head. These two are on the “history” of the conflict, and they are extraordinarily bad.

The first problem is a timeline put together by Churches for Middle East Peace (created by the National Council of Churches). This timeline contains several inaccuracies and demonstrates a pronounced bias, both by what is included and what isn’t. For example:

  • 1929: “Arab-Jewish riots in Hebron and elsewhere left nearly 250 Arabs and Jews dead and the Jewish community of Hebron ceased to exist.” Actually, the riots were by Arabs against Jews. A total of 133 Jews were killed in Hebron, Safed, and elsewhere — almost all by Arabs — while 116 Arabs were killed, most by British security forces trying to restore order.
  • 1949-1950: “Jews from Arab countries begin migration into Israel.” Why this happened is left mysterious. The majority of Jewish migration to Israel from Arab nations was the result of forced expulsions — what today would be called “ethnic cleansing.”
  • 1973: “Yom Kippur War — Egypt and Syria attack Israel. No territorial change.” No mention is made of the aim of the Arab nations: to destroy Israel.
  • 2002: “Reoccupation of Palestinian areas begins. Arafat placed under house arrest. Occupation of Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.” This makes it sound as if it was the Israelis who “occupied” the Church of the Nativity. In fact, it was members of Hamas, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, and the Tanzim (PLO militia) who held priests and nuns hostage and trashed the church before their evacuation was negotiated.

The timeline is flawed, to be sure, but is hardly the worst thing about these sessions. The worst thing is use of the heavily biased film, Occupation 101, as the primary source of information regarding the history.

Among those who appear in the film:

  • Noam Chomsky, MIT linguist and far left ideologue who for years has been an apologist for some of the world’s most thuggish regimes.
  • Ilan Pappe, Israeli revisionist historian who accuses Israel of “ethnic cleansing” (despite Israel’s population being 20 percent Arab).
  • Rashid Khalidi, Columbia University professor who advocates replacing Israel with a single Palestinian state and claims that Israel is a “racist” state.
  • Richard Falk, former Princeton University professor who has likened Israel to Nazi Germany and Israeli treatment of the Palestinians to the Holocaust.
  • Alison Weir, founder of If Americans Knew, narrates the film; she has denied that Israel has a right to exist and suggested that Jews control the American media.

The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) has reviewed this film and summarizes its flaws this way:

Occupation 101‘s worst offense is its twisting of the history and facts of the conflict in order to equate the Palestinian cause with celebrated civil rights struggles around the world. Viewers are led to see the situation of the Palestinians as parallel to black South Africans under apartheid or southern blacks [in the U.S.] during the civil rights era.

To pull this off, a decade of unprecedented terrorism directed at Israelis in their homes, cafes, vehicles and religious festivals is made nearly invisible, severing the connection between Israeli measures — like house demolitions and sweeps through Palestinian villages — and the Palestinian attacks that precipitated them. This is essential to the film’s portrayal of Israeli actions as colonialist aggression rather than as a response to terrorism.

The hate indoctrination that permeates Arab society and produces cadres of young Palestinian suicide bombers groomed in hatred, intolerance and rejection of peaceful coexistence is swept under the carpet.

CAMERA’s review mentions some of the egregious falsehoods of the film:

William Baker, head of Christians and Muslims for Peace, asserts the “first converts to the teachings of Jesus were Palestinians.” The first converts to Christianity were, of course, Jews, just as Jesus himself was Jewish, along with most of his close associates and early followers.

Richard Falk…bizarrely contends that Israel “receives as much foreign economic assistance [from the U.S.] as all the countries combined in the world.”

[Episcopal] Bishop [Allen] Bartlett implies that Israel flattens Palestinian towns to establish settlements on top of them, claiming that settlements are built on “whatever is there, whether it’s roads, whether it’s villages or homes — they’re bulldozed and new town is built.” This is complete invention; Israeli settlements have never been built on top of Palestinian homes and villages.

Jeff Halper, a fringe detractor of Israel, contends that Israeli policy is meant to ensure “most of the land is free for Israeli settlement” and “to make the Palestinians leave the territories… it’s a kind of ethnic cleansing.” In reality, Israeli communities comprise only a small percentage of West Bank land and the supposedly “ethnically cleansed” Palestinian population has increased from 947,000 in June, 1967 to over four million today.

Session 6 and Session 7 in the United Methodist study guide focus on a selective reading of international law, including documents such as the Fourth Geneva Convention (only excerpts of which are included).

Finally, in Session 8, participants are encouraged to join activist groups. All of the groups listed, not surprisingly, come from the same perspective.

It is regrettable that the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church has produced a study guide on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems to be little more than a propaganda piece that attempts to indoctrinate participants in a leftist, anti-Zionist view of Middle East politics.

Any United Methodist who cares about Israel — as well as about equity, justice, and truth — should speak up about this resource. Let the Minnesota Conference (and the General Board of Church and Society) know what you think of their efforts.


Related articles and information
Targeting Israel | Mark Tooley, Front Page Magazine (via IRD) (Oct. 29, 2010)
Christians bankroll Palestinian liberation | Mark Tooley, Front Page Magazine (Dec. 3, 2008)
Religious Left did not always despise Israel | Mark Tooley, Christian Post (July 29, 2008)
United Methodist church groups targeting Israel | Institute on Religion and Democracy (March 4, 2008)
Film Review: Occupation 101 | Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (Jan. 5, 2008)

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The latest election-related polling data from the non-partisan Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life suggests that a majority of voters who can be classified as “white Mainline Protestants” will support Republican Party congressional candidates in today’s elections.

Although the margin of GOP-over-Democrat preference has tightened slightly in recent days, the latest Pew survey of likely voters (PDF) shows white mainliners choosing Republican congressional candidates over Democrats by a nearly 20 percent margin (55%-36%).

The Pew data also show that Republican candidates are getting their strongest support among voters who attend religious services weekly. More than half of these voters (55 percent) either stated their intention to vote Republican or said they were “leaning” toward voting Republican.

In contrast, Democrat voter strength is highest among those who “seldom or never” attend religious services, with 54 percent of such voters expressing an intent to vote for Democratic candidates or at least “leaning” toward Democrats.

The Pew poll also found that black Protestants, a reliable Democratic constituency since the 1960s, are likely to vote overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates.

Because of the rather limited sample size of white Mainline Protestants (approximately 400 respondents), Pew researchers say the findings related to the voting patterns of white mainliners have a margin of error of ±6 percent.

Given the racial make-up of the United Methodist Church, the latest Pew polling data on the voting intentions of white Mainline Protestants seem likely to represent today’s general voting patterns among United Methodists.

According to the denomination’s General Council on Finance and Administration, the UMC’s U.S. membership (Excel file) was 90 percent white and 5.8 percent black as of 2008 (the most recent data available).

The remaining UMC members were classified as Asian (1.1 percent), Hispanic (less than 1 percent) and either Native American, Pacific Islander or multiracial (less than one-half percent for each group).

In the 2008 presidential election, white Mainline Protestants were evenly split — 44% to 44% — between Republican candidate Sen. John McCain and Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama.

Voters who attended weekly religious services, however, went for Sen. McCain by a 55%-to-43% margin, according to Pew data.


Related posts
Party platforms and the United Methodist Church, part one
Party platforms and the United Methodist Church, part two
United Methodist Church facing health bill fallout
House Speaker thanks UMC for help in passing health bill
How did the UMC come to define health care as a ‘right’?
Why the United Methodist Church cannot condone homosexuality
Why aren’t UM leaders supporting the Manhattan Declaration?

Related information
Comparing the platforms | Christianity Today (August 2008)
Democrat and Republican platform comparison (bulletin insert) (PDF) | Christian Action Commission (2008)
Party platform comparison resource | Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention (2008)
Comparison of political party platforms and The United Methodist Church (includes UM Social Principles from the Book of Discipline and selections from the Book of Resolutions) (PDF) | General Board of Church and Society (2008)
Addressing political resolutions by the church (PDF) | UMAction (April 2008)
The 2008 Book of Resolutions: The voice of the United Methodist Church? | Liza Kittle, RENEW Network
Which candidates most closely align with your views? Find out with VoteEasy | Project Vote Smart

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The following commentary is by Riley B. Case, associate executive director of the Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church.

Dr. Riley B. Case

Dr. Case served many years as a pastor and district superintendent in the UMC’s North Indiana Conference (now the Indiana Conference). He has been a delegate to five UM General Conferences. (Links below have been added by MethodistThinker.com.) — Ed.


I was speaking with a fellow pastor several years ago and inquired whether he and his church might be interested in Good News magazine. He replied “no” because people in his congregation were upset enough with the denomination as it was without hearing more stuff.

He went on to explain that the denominational papers were bad enough even with their institutional spin. If his people got the real news they would be tempted to “jump ship.”

In this pastor’s mind it was better to keep the people in the dark than that they should be informed about what the church was really doing. I thought of that conversation several weeks ago when the following stories broke:

1) Southern California’s Claremont School of Theology.

This UM seminary is now “multi-faith” — meaning they are bringing on board Muslim professors to train Muslim imams (clergy) and Jewish professors to train rabbis. Soon they will train Hindus and Buddhists.

Claremont president Jerry D. Campbell

United Methodist apportionment monies support this endeavor to the tune of about $1 million a year.

In a world of great poverty, in a world crying out for preachers to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ, in a denomination short of funds, our tithes and offerings are being used to promote the idea that all religions are various roads to the same god.

The president of the Claremont School of Theology, Dr. Jerry D. Campbell, told the United Methodist Reporter that Christians who seek to evangelize persons of other faiths to accept Jesus Christ have “an incorrect perception of what it means to follow Jesus.”

2) ‘Sex and the Church: An Ordained Single Woman and the [Book of] Discipline.’

This article, part of a series on human sexuality appearing in the Faith in Action electronic newsletter sponsored by the UM General Board of Church and Society (GBCS), essentially argues that the church’s standard on sexuality — “celibacy in singleness and faithfulness in marriage” — needs to be changed.

Sexual intercourse outside of marriage can be loving and fulfilling and should not be considered sinful, even for clergy. (In August, 2009, a Unitarian minister was given space by GBCS to make a somewhat similar argument.)

Other articles in the series have argued that abstinence programs don’t work, abortion is OK, and teenagers need to be instructed in maturity for the timing of sexual encounters.

Missing are any articles written from the perspective of the traditional and Biblical view of marriage and human sexuality.

Missing too for the last 38 years (since 1972 when the board was founded) are any articles or statements in defense of the Biblical (and United Methodist) stance that “the practice of homosexuality [is] incompatible with Christian teaching” (¶161F, The Book of Discipline—2008).

3) The church’s support and lobbying for a partisan health-care plan that narrowly passed the U.S. Congress.

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi publicly thanked the UMC for advocating for a plan that had only one-party support, it took many United Methodists by surprise. How did we get lined up on only one side of a partisan issue? Those who have been around the inside workings of the church were not so surprised.

Spkr. Pelosi at Glide UMC—San Francisco

It used to be different. Many years ago the church’s moral and social stances came from the people. There were no general agencies to pontificate that the use of alcohol was sin or the slavery was against the will of God. These views grew out of the convictions of the people responding to Biblical preaching.

Today social stances are decreed from the top down. General agencies, such as the General Board of Church and Society, are staffed by some of the most liberal persons in the denomination. These persons write General Conference legislation out of their own biases. This legislation is pushed through the General Conference, often without debate, and placed in the 1084-page Book of Resolutions.

Then the same staff members who wrote the legislation quote the Book of Resolutions, “represent” the “church’s stand” on numbers of controversial issues, and argue before lawmakers that this is the considered United Methodist position. Obviously, the system is flawed.

Perhaps as never before there is a fundamental divide between the corporate leadership of the United Methodist Church and its people. In addition, the corporate leadership is either unwilling or unable to recognize the seriousness of this problem and relate it to the membership and financial crisis presently facing the church.

The Claremont situation should be considered as exhibit #1 illustrating our problems.

That a denomination that claims to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Book of Discipline ¶121), that speaks of its mission as “making disciples of Jesus Christ” (¶120), that operates with doctrinal standards in the Wesleyan tradition, that historically has been in large part responsible for defining the word “evangelical” in American church life — that such a denomination should continue to pour money into an institution that operates with a philosophy that undermines all that United Methodism has been about is indefensible.

Claremont-provided photo (via UMNS)

Claremont operates without regard to United Methodist history and doctrine. It has declared itself to be going in a different direction from the church. This is fine, but this means there should be disaffiliation.

Let the school raise money from sources in the Middle East (as it has spoken of doing). But why should bishops urge local churches to cut back staff and program to “pay apportionments” when those apportionments are used as “bail out” money to prop up sick seminaries.

Furthermore, MEF (Ministerial Education Fund) monies should support students (who now graduate with huge debts), not institutions. If the fund supports seminaries, it should support seminaries overseas where the UMC is growing and not be restricted only to seminaries in the U.S.

Are these matters even being debated? The Council of Bishops is quiet; the General Board of Higher Education and the Ministry is quiet; the other UM seminaries are hesitant to criticize another seminary lest they too should come under criticism.

Is there hope? At the moment the only hope seems to be the Call to Action Steering Team, which will be making recommendations with the goal of reforming and renewing the UMC.

The church is investing a great deal of energy and trust in this committee. Will the committee rise to the challenge? Will the Connectional Table and the Council of Bishops be willing to support any of the controversial recommendations? Or will the corporate culture, which is invested in institutions and in a defective church structure that simply is not working, be too much to overcome?

The future of the United Methodist Church is at stake.

evangelical-and-methodistIn addition to his role as associate executive director of the Confessing Movement, Riley B. Case serves as a member of the Good News board of directors and as president of the board of the Kokomo (Ind.) Rescue Mission.

Dr. Case is a graduate of Taylor University and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. He earned a graduate degree from Northwestern University and holds an honorary degree from Taylor University.

His books include Evangelical and Methodist: A Popular History (Abingdon) and Understanding Our United Methodist Hymnal (Wipf and Stock).


Related posts
Claremont president: Christians shouldn’t evangelize people of other faiths
UM seminary embraces non-Christian faiths, will train Muslim imams, Jewish rabbis
In GBCS article, UM elder argues against celibacy for single clergy
Board of Church and Society sex-ed writer: Sex outside of marriage can be ‘moral, ethical’
Why the United Methodist Church cannot condone homosexuality
United Methodist Church facing health bill fallout
House Speaker thanks UMC for help in passing health bill
How did the UMC come to define health care as a ‘right’?

Related articles and information
United Methodist money to train Muslim clerics? | Riley B. Case, Good News (July 6, 2010)
Another PR release for Claremont | Terry Mattingly, GetReligion.org (July 6, 2010)
Claremont’s religious diversity: Church affirms multi-faith project | Robin Russell, United Methodist Reporter (July 2, 2010)
University Senate rescinds public warning (PDF) | news release, University Senate of the United Methodist Church (June 25, 2010)
University Senate organization, policies, and guidelines — 2009-2012 (PDF) | United Methodist University Senate
Claremont seminary reaches beyond Christianity | Mitchell Landsberg, Los Angeles Times (June 9, 2010)
Theology school becomes 1st accredited U.S. seminary to train Muslim & Jewish theologians | Islam Today (June 9, 2010)
Why Methodist seminaries are becoming irrelevant and dying | Riley B. Case, Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church (July 2009 — via Methodist Examiner)
The 2008 Book of Resolutions: The voice of the United Methodist Church? (PDF) | Liza Kittle, RENEW

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