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Curbing the Hate Speech

by Good News Focus

"There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive." — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

While we are quite aware of the overwhelming temptation to utilize colorful rhetoric in the heat of the moment, especially when caricaturing those with different views, it seems as if the Rev. James Lawson recently ventured off into the feverswamp of verbal vindictiveness. Although not a General Conference delegate this year, he was in town to pick up an award from the Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA).

"The church is under assault by Good News, the IRD [the Institute on Religion and Democracy], the Confessing Movement, and the Mission Society [for United Methodists]," Lawson declared. "They are not interested in serving Jesus Christ. They are interested in the management and control of the United Methodist Church."

The Saturday evening acceptance speech turned into a stem-winder of accusation and hyperbole. Lawson disingenuously attempted to cloak the renewal movements amidst white hoods and burning crosses.

"They are more interested in preserving white supremacy and male domination," he stated. "I am ashamed that the national leadership of the United Methodist Church doesn’t understand the church is under assault. And that assault will continue!"

Many of Lawson’s comments about the renewal groups received enthusiastic applause. "They are not voices of God but voices of white privilege, greed, capitalism, racism,…and American domination of the rest of the world," he insisted.

Lawson further alleged that Good News and the IRD, with "their counterparts in other denominations and in the political world," are responsible for imprisoning two million Americans, in an apparent reference to the total prison population of the United States. "It’s our own version of the holocaust. And it’s not going to get any better." He stated that these groups will cause "men and children and young people to suffer unnecessarily" and warned, "We cannot win unless we see the enemy for who he is."

One is hard pressed to remember when so much vitriol has been jammed into such a brief speech. According to Lawson, the church is "under assault"; renewal groups are not interested "in serving Jesus Christ"; we’re preserving "white supremacy and male domination"; we’re the voices of "greed, capitalism, racism,…and American domination"; we’re causing others to "suffer unnecessarily"; and we must be seen as "the enemy." (As Focus went to press, Lawson had not yet accused the renewal groups of the Love-Bug virus or rainforest deforestation.)

So much for the "ties that bind."

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