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The UMC GBCS–The Third Political Party

by Michael L. Gonzalez

October 18, 2000

The UMC General Board of Church and Society has published a voter's guide on the presidential election, with the obvious objective of persuading people to vote for the candidate who is most in-line with the UMC Social Principles and myriad resolutions.

There are two major problems with this less-than-honest presentation of the election issues by the GBCS:

1.  The "platform" presented by the GBCS in this document is not even clear, and so evaluation of the various platforms of the political parties using the "GBCS platform" as a guide only complicates the analysis.

2.  The GBCS has published in this analysis only a minute portion of both the Social Principles and various resolutions, not to mention that the GBCS doesn't express a "platform" based on the publication that the UMC holds most dear--THE BIBLE!  There would be quite a different appearance of the various political parties as analyzed with respect to the UMC, if the UMC was presented in light of the basic tenets of Christianity and Biblical principles rather than simply the Social Principles and resolutions.

There's an obvious assumption made by the GBCS that UMC members' beliefs are in sync with the Social Principles.  First of all, the Social Principles are constructs by humans, NOT from God.  Therefore, the Social Principles are entirely fallible, and thus, there is no obligation for a UMC member to declare allegiance to the Social Principles.  Let's face it, the UMC General Conferences continue to modify the Social Principles over time--that's natural, as they are only opinion, and are based on human perceptions at certain times in history.

However, more significant is the fact that the Social Principles are not at all clear, and in many cases take stands on all sides of an issue, such that each reader can come away from the Social Principles with a different interpretation of what they mean.  For example, read the actual abortion language in the Social Principles under paragraph J,
and then I ask you to tell me just what the UMC position is on abortion:  Is it pro-choice or pro-life, or is it both!  And if it is both, then what does that mean?  (I'll give you a hint:  It means that there is no right and wrong, but only shades of gray).

What did I learn from reading the platform writings by the GBCS?  I learned that the various political party platforms can be written in fairly simple terms that most voters can understand, even though in a public debate, the actual candidates have a tendency to really muddy the waters, thus a voter can become confused when trying to understand their platform from listening to debates.

On the other hand, if the GBCS were running for office and using their "UMC platform" as written on this website, I believe that this GBCS platform would be far more nebulous and difficult to understand than the platform of any of the political parties.

The GBCS platform, the UMC Social Principles, and the UMC resolutions are human constructs that are fallible and finite.  Whereas the Word of God is infallible and infinite–isn't it obvious which one must be our guide?

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