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UM Bishop White Profiles "Fundamentalist Christians" to Warn Liberals of those who "Let Loose More Evil in the Name of Religion"

from newsletter The Columns, November 19, 2004

Bering Memorial United Methodist Church
"A Reconciling Congregation"
1440 Harold Street
Houston, TX  77006-3730
(713) 526-1017

A Report on "The Threat of Fundamentalism to the UMC"

By Henry Chiu

Bishop Dale C. White conducted a retreat at Lakeview Conference Center on October 29 and 30, 2004.  The subject of the retreat is "The Threat of Fundamentalism to the UMC."  Four people from Bering attended the retreat:  Constance Gray, Randy Scott, and Henry Chiu.

Bishop White said deeply religious people have performed "noble acts of compassion, self-sacrifice, and service to others throughout history."  However, when religious people slip into oppressive attitudes and actions, they have waged more wars, killed more people, and "let loose more evil in the name of religion than almost any other institutional force in history."

Bishop White said there are several signs that indicate good religious people have gone "bad":  (1) they claim they have the absolute truth. Humans are limited in their ability to search for truth; no human or human institution can claim to hold the absolute truth of God.  (2) They demand blind obedience.  In our search for religious truth, it is inevitable that questions will be raised.  When religious authority discourages or disallows honest questions, truth is suppressed.  (3) They establish the "Ideal" time. Religious people all hope for a better future: here on earth or afterlife in heaven.  Some look back to a period in the past as the ideal time and long to bring it back.  When the hoped-for ideal is tied to a religious leader who claims to have the absolute truth and who demands complete obedience, oppression and trouble looms.  (4) They claim the end justifies any means.  (5) They declare Holy War.

Bishop White said the United Methodist Church is one of the target Protestant denominations that two secular groups have been scheming to turn upside down and create schism to break up the Church.  They use different tactics to carry out their schemes.  (1) They use polarizing rhetoric to spread suspicion and fear among church members.  They selectively distort church events to discredit event sponsors and participants.  (2) They single out certain groups of the Church that are charged to lead the Church in study, witness, and social justice action to attempt to eliminate them.  (3) They are against women in leadership, ministries, and want women out of decision- making arenas.  (4) They file charges against leaders with whom they disagree: heresy trials in the Church and civil trials in the secular courts.  (5) They petition the Church to issue and adopt doctrines that must be enforced by all bishops and the Church.  Leaders who do not enforce these doctrines will be expulsed and congregations that do not adhere to the doctrines would have the property removed from them.

Bishop White recommends that we carry out "carefrontation" (that is Christian confrontation), with the military fundamentalists.  He introduced the retreat attendants to "Engage Conflict Well," a process of conflict transformation.  The steps are (1) Create a well instead of a wall.  (2) Allow the well to fill.  (3) Be well prepared.  (4) Be well.  (5) Create a common well.  (6) Share the well.  (7) Drink deeply together.  (8) Let it flow.  (9) Be well together.

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