News Release From
Religion and Democracy
April 15, 2003
Absurdity: Methodist Officials Demand President Bush "Repent" for his
Several United Methodist bishops and the head of the United Methodist
Church's Washington lobby office have fiercely denounced fellow United Methodist
George W. Bush for contributing to "spiritual forces of wickedness."
"These United Methodist officials are effectively telling the president he is
not a good Christian because his policies do not match their own left-wing
beliefs," commented Mark Tooley, who directs the IRD's United Methodist
The United Methodist officials signed a full-page ad in the April 5 edition of
Christian Century magazine. Entitled "A Prophetic Epistle from United
Methodists Calling Our Brother George W. Bush to Repent," the ad calls for Bush
to "repent from domestic and foreign policies that are incompatible with the
teaching and example of Christ."
These church officials accused Bush of "threatening the very earth and all of
its inhabitants with open discussion of the use of nuclear weapons." It also
accused him of promoting "redemptive violence" in his policy towards the
"sovereign nation of Iraq." Additionally, it claimed that Bush's domestic policy
is "incongruent with Jesus' teaching" and falls short of the compassion of which
Jesus spoke, despite Bush's claim to be a "compassionate conservative."
The officials asked Bush to meet with bishops of the United Methodist Church,
whom Bush has declined to see. "May our call to repentance speak to your
conscience," the ad concluded.
"Bush is supposedly a bad Christian and a bad Methodist because, like most
Methodists, he does not agree with these church officials in their equation of
compassion with a large federal welfare state and in their opposition to a
strong military defense for America," Tooley responded.
"More distressingly, these church officials equate their brand of politics with
Christianity, and assume that political disagreement is a sign of spiritual
apostasy. This is nonsense," Tooley remarked. "The signers of this ad are hardly
symbols of strong, mainstream United Methodist beliefs."
As examples, Tooley pointed out the ad signer Bishop Joe Sprague denies that
Jesus Christ is eternally divine, ad signer Bishop Melvin Talbert has endorsed
same-sex "marriage," and Board of Church and Society General Secretary Jim
Winkler is a pacifist.
The United Methodist Church affirms Christ's full deity, opposes same-sex
unions, and is not a pacifist. "Yet these church officials claim it is President
Bush who is violating his own church's teachings," Tooley observed.