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Outrage Accompanies Global Agencies Financial Support Of Clinton Lawyer And Communist Castro In Elian Case

From: Jeff Foster
To: ucmpage@ucmpage.org 
Sent: Friday, April 21, 2000 12:49 PM
Subject: Elian: PLEASE HELP

Dear Sirs:

I'm attaching a copy of the official GBCS response to the outrage over their involvement in the Elian Gonzalez issue. I'm also attaching a letter that I sent out to my bishop and all the ministers in my district. Please publish my letter on your web page. No one else seems to care about the truth.

In Christ:
Rev. Jeff Foster
Hohenwald Circuit UMC
Columbia District, TN Annual Conference

General Board of Church and Society

Subj: Re: Elian Gonzalez
Date: 4/18/00 2:02:47 PM Central Daylight Time
From: GHakola@UMC-GBCS.ORG  (Gretchen Hakola)
To: Bpgoffice@aol.com

Due to the overwhelming volume of email on the Elian Gonzalez case, we can no longer respond personally. If you have a question that this message does not address, please telephone GBCS at 202-488-5600.

Much misinformation has been disseminated about the relationship between the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church and the Humanitarian Advocacy Fund which is receiving voluntary contributions to support legal representation for Juan Miguel Gonzalez. Although GBCS is firm that as a legal and ethical matter Elian should be returned to his father, it has taken no position on whether the family should remain in the United States or return to Cuba. That is the decision of Juan Miguel Gonzalez.

GBCS is the international social justice and public policy agency of The United Methodist Church. We chose to help ameliorate an intense standoff by obtaining legal counsel for Juan Miguel Gonzalez to ensure that he was represented in the United States courts. The decision to aide Mr. Gonzalez was made apart from the politics of Cuba or the United States.

The United Methodist Church has a long tradition of caring for families, children, the poor and voiceless. Our agency is charged with interpreting the Christian gospel in the context of the moral and ethical imperatives articulated by our Church. We respond to cries for help even when they are unpopular. In our tradition, personal piety calls for prayer, worship and study, but social holiness equally compels us to be the hands and the voice of God in a broken world.

Some in the church have decried our involvement in this unfolding story. How can you help godless communists? But Cubans are not "them" in the eyes of the church; they are "us." Cuban Methodist Bishop Ricardo Pereira Diaz is among the members of the Cuban Council of Churches who requested our intervention. The Methodist Church is one of the fastest growing protestant denominations in Cuba.

The questions we are confronted with as people of faith must not be primarily political questions, but theological questions. What does justice require? How do we bring about reconciliation? What does it mean to be father, to be son? If justice is to prevail in any circumstance, all persons, regardless of their national origin or ideology, must be treated with equal respect under the law. The church does not see people according to their political stripes or their national allegiance but as human beings equally deserving of justice.

The GBCS executive committee agreed to establish a fund which, among other things, would accept voluntary contributions to pay the costs of ensuring that Juan Miguel Gonzalez is fairly represented in the U.S. Courts. This decision followed an overture by the Cuban Council of Churches. It is the mandate of GBCS to implement the Church Social Principles; this action is consistent with our Social Principles in every way.

GBCS General Secretary, the Rev. Thom White Wolf Fassett, and the Rev. Joan Brown Campbell, former General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, both traveled with Mr. Craig to Cuba several weeks ago for an initial meeting with Mr. Gonzalez to ensure that Mr. Gonzalez was making a free choice in retaining legal representation. All monies donated to the Humanitarian Advocacy Fund for Mr. Gonzalez are voluntary contributions from individuals or groups. No United Methodist Church apportioned monies have been promised to Mr. Craig for his services.


Erik J. Alsgaard
Assistant General Secretary, Communications
General Board of Church and Society

Jeff Foster Response Letter

Dear Brothers and Sisters on the Columbia District:

I have just finished reading the GBCS response concerning the Elian Gonzalez case, which was e-mailed to us by the district office. All I can say is that if you believe this liberal claptrap, I’d like to meet with you to discuss a little real estate deal I’m working up. If you haven’t deleted this e-mail by now, please allow me to expose some of the central flaws in the GBCS logic.

First of all, they say that the decision on whether to remain in the United States or return to Cuba is "the decision of Juan Miguel Gonzalez." That’s a lie and they know it (unless of course, the officials at GBCS have been living under a rock for the past 40 years). The fact is, Juan Miguel Gonzalez has absolutely no control over whether he stays here or goes back. We all know that his mother, his mother-in-law and his stepson are all being held in a "compound" back in Cuba. That’s a fact which is undisputed. For that matter, the house in Bethesda where Juan Miguel and family are staying is itself a type of compound where he is under the constant scrutiny of Castro’s goon squad. Anyone who thinks he has the freedom to speak his mind on the situation, let alone actually decide to stay in the U.S. is either ignorant, naive or worse, deliberately ignoring the facts in order to facilitate the aims of a communist despot. Unfortunately, I believe with all of my heart that Thom White Wolf Fassett and company fit squarely in the latter category.

Secondly, there is this question of "what does justice require?" Justice my eye. The liberals at GBCS love to trot out their justice language whenever they engage in socialist activism. They’re masters of red herring rhetoric. For example, they’ve tried to paint those of us who disagree with what they’re doing as bigots without coming out and using that word. In their response, they have us asking, "how can you help godless communists?" Then they go on to lovingly (and condescendingly I might add) explain to us how God requires justice for all people regardless of their ethnicity. Please. This has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with "us and them" and they know it.

Personally, my problem is not with the "godless communists" who make up the masses of the Cuban citizenry but with the godless communist who is in charge of the most repressive regime in the western hemisphere, namely Fidel Castro. This is not an us versus them issue but rather a question of whether God’s justice requires us to return a 6 year old refugee to a slave state where he will be forced to live under the thumb of communist thugs who will deprive him of the most basic liberties that the God of justice has decreed for all people everywhere. If this is not true then I’d like for someone to explain to me why Fidel Castro’s own daughter ran away from home and now resides in Madrid. What does justice require? I doubt if Fassett and his cronies at GBCS really care about that. They’re more interested in furthering the cause of socialism around the globe than in obtaining justice for Elian Gonzalez or any other child for that matter.

When they try to impress us with such flowery language as what it means "to be father, to be son" it’s nothing but a cheap attempt to tug at our heart strings in an effort to distract us from their primary agenda. After all, do they really think we’re naive enough to believe that this is about reuniting a father and his son? If it were that simple, I might be all for it. The truth is however, Juan Miguel Gonzalez has no parental rights, nor does any other Cuban father. The Cuban constitution states that Cuban children are in the custody of the state. If and when the day comes that Elian is returned to Cuba he will not be with his father. His first stop will be a compound in Havana, where he will be re-educated through God only knows what kind of torturous means. Castro has as much as admitted this already. After his re-education is complete he will no doubt be paraded all over the country as a trophy of Castro’s triumph over the evil American empire. Reconciliation indeed.

Finally, there is the financial angle to be considered. GBCS has assured us that the humanitarian advocacy fund is financed through voluntary contributions and not money from the pews. Excuse me, but just who is paying Thom White Wolf Fassett’s salary and travel expenses when he makes these little excursions to Havana to rub elbows and cut deals with the granddaddy of all dictators? Answer: you, me and the good people who sit in our pews, that’s who. While it may be true that Slick Willy’s favorite lawyer is being paid out of voluntary contributions, GBCS is still an official board of the United Methodist Church and its officials and operating funds are paid through apportionments. I for fly into a fit of rage every time I see my tithe and the tithes of my people being used to further the cause of oppression in the name of justice. The bottom line is this. The World Council of Churches, the National Council of Churches and the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society have never met a communist dictator they didn’t like. From facilitating the tyranny of racist goons like Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe to promoting the cause of communist murderers like Fidel Castro, these people have become experts at finding their way to the wrong side of just about every issue that comes down the pike. If the good and decent laypeople who comprise the sleeping silent majority within the UMC had any idea how GBCS is using their money there would be a clean sweep down fore and aft at the official boards and agencies so fast it would make us all swimmy headed. In fact, maybe the Elian Gonzalez episode isn’t such a bad thing after all. As for me, I’m praying that this will be the watershed event that finally awakens the sleeping giant. It’s high time somebody put a leash on Fassett and his crew. Maybe this event will be the catalyst for his demise.

Just my $.02, for what it’s worth,

Jeff Foster

Hohenwald Circuit UMC

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