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GBCS' Jim Winkler Breaks Rank

by Michael L. Gonzalez

July 24, 2001

During recent years, the public actions of the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) has caused it to resemble a political action committee more than a Board of a major Christian denomination.  Just like the myriad Washington D.C. lobby organizations, the GBCS makes public a political platform and then lobbies the politicians in an effort to have the federal government pass legislation per their platform.

You know that one of the first maneuvers for a political organization is to marry-up with some big political behemoth, and then wash his back in the hope that he might wash your back in the future.  The next, obvious rule, is to not ever take a public position which is contrary the position of your political spouse.  For example, if you're a feminist group who's been fighting male chauvinist pigs since the beginning, you don't criticize Bill Clinton when he's accused of raping or otherwise taking advantage of women because Billy Boy is your political spouse.

So what does Jim Winkler do in the first year at the helm of the GBCS?  Why, he launches a torpedo with dead aim on the pro-abortion crowd, which has certainly appeared to be the political spouse of the GBCS.  Has Winkler forgotten that the GBCS has for years walked lockstep with the liberal wing of the Democrat Party on virtually every issue (other than gambling)?  Doesn't Winkler realize that the GBCS has developed a pro-abortion constituency within the the leadership of the UMC (albeit certainly not among the rank-and-file membership)?

Read for yourself how Winkler has taken dead aim at the abortionists by taking a position against embryonic stem cell research in favor of the sanctity of life; even the United Methodist News Service is broadcasting this salvo.

There is no question that Winkler has taken a pro-life stance on this stem cell issue, and you know the next subject this raises--abortion.  In his letter to President Bush, Winkler even brings up the issue of abortion, but as you can read, his quote from the Social Principles isn't much that the abortionists can wave a flag over.

What choice did Winkler have on the issue of embryonic stem cell research?  It would appear that he had only two choices:  1) Do what he did (announce the official UMC position based on the General Conference), or 2) Remain silent and keep dodging the issue so as to try to ride the fence.  I must admit that I assumed that the GBCS (as well as all liberal leaders of the UMC) would take the second option, because the first option could lead to disarray amongst all the liberals in the UMC boards, agencies, and the Council of Bishops.

However, we must now recognize that Winkler did what a leader of integrity must do, and that raises this question: Could it be that Christianity is about to return to the GBCS (and potentially all leadership positions in the UMC)?

Obviously, we should all make every effort to "make hay while the sun shines."  And that means take this opportunity and assume that Winkler is interested in Christian beliefs.  And, that means that evangelicals should continue and/or renew all efforts to bring solid Christian positions into the GBCS, and then continue to make the same full-court press on all other boards, agencies and the Council of Bishops.

Here's one place to start with the GBCS:  For too many years, the GBCS (and other entities in the UMC) have backed too many pro-abortion organizations, and now it's time to break all UMC relationships with such organizations.  If Winkler wants to advocate positions of the Social Principles, then he should certainly cut the ties to these organizations which are completely contrary to the statement in the Social Principles which clearly respects the sanctity of life and paints abortion in the light of being a last resort, never to be used as a means of birth control, and certainly a rare procedure to be used only in "tragic conflicts of life with life."

The GBCS and other UMC entities have supported organizations which clearly advocate abortion to be mainstreamed as just another means for a woman to counteract any and every pregnancy, based on whim, convenience, or even without any reason at all.  These organizations fully support the RU-486 which can hardly be described as anything other than a death sentence for embryos that is warranted because a man and woman had so little concern for life that they decided to have sex, potentially create new life, and simply murder that new life in the event it comes to fruition.

One example of a pro-abortion organization that is backed by the GBCS and the GBGM Women's Division is the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), formerly known as the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights.  Just months ago, the RCRC issued a statement directed toward President Bush that this organization, backed by a minority of Christians in the United States, "affirmed the morality of using embryonic and fetal tissue . . ."  This statement by the RCRC is in direct opposition to the UMC General Conference resolution.

What the UMC needs to reinvigorate all the Christians in the denomination is a good old debate on the origin of life:  When does life begin?  There's no room in Christianity to remain silent on this issue--there needs to be a debate and the denomination needs to take a position.  One of the benefits of this debate would be that it would take the spotlight off the over-dialogued issue of homosexuality--GC2000 tried to put it to rest, but as much as the Christians in the denomination insist that the issue is over, the homosexual forces continue to beat the drum, and the Christians continue to hear the drum instead of ignoring it.

How can we start such a debate?  Now is the time for all UMC evangelicals to insist that the GBCS advocate an end to all UMC affiliation with the RCRC and ensure that no member of the UMC is forced to support the RCRC through apportionment dollars.

Besides being in favor of the destruction of embryonic human life, the RCRC advocates all types of abortion in conjunction with a myriad of pro-abortion organizations including Planned Parenthood, Abortion Access Project, Abortion Clinics Online, Abortion Rights Activist, Feminist Majority Foundation, Feminist Women's Health Center, National Abortion Federation, National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, National Coalition of Abortion Providers, National Organization for Women (NOW), and many more.

Click here for more detailed information on the horrors of the RCRC.

Evangelicals of the UMC, WAKE UP; the opportunity to bring the Word of God to seemingly godless UMC boards, agencies, etc. is at hand.  We can all pray that Jim Winkler has begun a fresh approach to the interpretation of the Social Principles and all UMC beliefs--that is, consistent interpretations with integrity and void of political motivations.

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