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Is the UMC Tent big enough for "W?"

by Michael L. Gonzalez

December 29, 2000

It's December 14, 2000 and the United Methodist News Service proudly announces that when "George W. Bush takes the oath of office as the 43rd president of the United States . . . he will be only the third Methodist to do so."

Isn't it a fine moment in history for UMC'ers?!  Well, perhaps not, according to the article:

During the campaign, several news reports noted that Bush's opinions more closely match those of the Southern Baptist Convention . . .
According to the following "official voice" of the UMC, Bush is the last person who Methodists would want to see in office:
Statement of Reverend Carlgon W. Veazey,
President of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice 

"The Deception is over."  Bush's Nomination of Religious Extremist Ashcroft Blatant move to Undermine Woman's Choice and Clinic Safety 

President-elect George W. Bush's nomination of Missouri Senator John Ashcroft to be U.S. attorney general aligns the new administration with Religious Right extremists intent on overturning a woman's right to choose, said Reverend Carlton W. Veazey, president of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. 
If you were to remove all of the emotionally-charged verbiage in the above statement, it would simply read "Bush's nomination of Ashcroft aligns the new administration with Bush's campaign promises to re-introduce historic morals and values into American culture, and to protect unborn life."  This statement is completely in sync with the Bush campaign, and it is exactly what half of the American electorate voted for.  Thank you, RCRC for pointing out the obvious (although, certainly in a manipulative manner).
After some moderate nominations, including the pro-choice General Colin Powell, "the deception about bipartisanship is over," Reverend Veazey said. "Nominating Ashcroft is a shrewd move to appeal to the Republican ultra-conservative wing by putting one of their own in a position to do the most harm to a woman's right to choose."
Call it ultra-conservative if you will, but I guess then that half of the American public would be counted as extremists by this definition according to the RCRC.
"This is a clear attack by Bush on safe, legal abortion services and an opening for a resurgence of abortion clinic violence," said Reverend Veazey. The attorney general is responsible for clinic safety under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.
This is clearly unsubstantiated, unfounded, inciteful, hateful rhetoric, on the order of Jesse Jackson, and should be denounced as such by every reputable journalist and talking head in America.
"The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice is watching every move of the Bush Administration," said Reverend Veazey. "As we've learned too many times, reproductive choice and religious freedom are always at stake."
Religious freedom is at stake under a Bush Administration!?!  Ha!  If this isn't ever "the pot calling the kettle black!"
The majority of Americans voted pro-choice," said Reverend Veazey. "But where women's health is concerned, Bush sides with a politician whose friends include Pat Robertson of the Christian Coalition, Jerry Falwell of the Moral Majority, Gary Bauer and the rest of the irreligious rightwing whose agenda is pro-fetus and anti-woman."
McCarthyism at its best!  By the way, aren't about half of all fetuses female?  And, doesn't every loving mother want the best for her unborn child?  How much more pro-woman can you get than teaching a mother the truth about her new life inside of her?
Ashcroft, a minister in the Assembly of God, has a l00 percent anti-choice voting record in the Senate and signed some of the most stringent abortion restrictions in the country as governor of Missouri. Under Ashcroft, the Missouri constitution was amended to include a "human life amendment" that even most social moderates oppose as religious.
Am I the only one who noticed that the RCRC's first name is religious?  So, why is the RCRC so anti-religion?  I'll give you a hint:  BECAUSE THE RCRC IS NOT AT ALL ABOUT RELIGION, IT'S ALL ABOUT ABORTION!!!  Click here to read the truth about the background of the RCRC.
The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, founded in 1973, is the national interfaith pro-choice coalition whose members include organizations from the Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Methodist Church, United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalist Association, the Reform and Conservative movements of Judaism. 
Yep, there it is at the end of the vitriolic article; it would appear to the average reader that the RCRC is an official voice of the UMC.

I don't understand why Bush is being criticized for beginning a process for which he was elected.  Bush ran a campaign which was clearly pro-life and anti-abortion, so why would it be a point of criticism when he appoints a cabinet member who is staunchly pro-life and anti-abortion?

Wouldn't it be a betrayal of half of the voting citizens of this nation if Bush ran a campaign claiming one platform, and then took office and executed a completely divergent platform?

The liberals in the U.S. keep making the point that Al Gore officially received a greater portion of the popular vote, and thus Bush's 49.9% of the popular vote demonstrates that he shouldn't hold to his campaign promises.  Can you remember the most recent U.S. president elected with less than a majority of the popular vote?  Think hard . . . it was in the 20th Century.  Oh, that's right, it was just eight years ago when Bill Clinton was elected with a sorry 43% of the popular vote.  Sort of makes Bush's 49.9% look like a mandate, doesn't it? 

I don't know about you, but I get a kick out of this statement from the UMNS article

Having a United Methodist in office does not mean the president's policies will reflect those of the church. Moreover, United Methodists often differ among themselves and from the official positions expressed by the church's highest legislative body, the General Conference. 
Hey, help me out!  Who would ever know what the policies of the UMC really are?  Do you use the Book of Discipline and/or the Book of Resolutions?  How about the Bible?  Well, these are not the prime sources of reference in the California-Nevada Conference of the UMC, and not in a growing number of other areas of the UMC as well.

When you read from so many people and organizations who lay claim to be speaking for the UMC, it's no wonder that the American public couldn't have any idea for what the UMC stands.  Oh sure, these people and organizations may not have the legitimate authority to speak for the UMC (only the General Conference can speak officially), but as far as public perception is concerned, every media outlet that mentions these renegade UMC spokespersons, lends credibility to their voices. 

In the case of the RCRC statement, which emphasizes their endorsement by the UMC, if the UMC Council of Bishops, or even one member thereof, fails to make a public statement to clarify the UMC position on abortion, then de facto, the RCRC is speaking for the UMC. 

Silence on the part of the UMC bishops would not be surprising, as there are two things we know about the UMC (through reading the Book of Discipline, the Book of Resolutions, and by observing General Conference):  1) The UMC shies away from taking positions on controversial topics so as not to offend any segment of the Big Tent, and 2) When stating a position on a controversial topic, the UMC generally adopts nebulous statements that can be interpreted by every segment of the Big Tent as supporting its own opinion.  Case in point are these excerpts from the UMNS article, whereby all sides of these issues are simultaneously supported and denounced by a variety of UMC actions by the General Conference over the past several quadrennia:

The denomination's statement on abortion expresses reluctant support for the availability of legal abortions for women who choose them on the basis of their situations, while Bush holds a pro-life stance with exceptions only for cases of rape or incest, or if the life of the mother is in danger. At the General Conference held in May, the church added a prohibition against "partial birth" abortion except to save the life of the mother or in cases where severe fetal anomalies exist that are incompatible with life. Bush supports banning the procedure.

In discussions about education, Bush has expressed support for giving parents vouchers that may be used to send their children to private and religious schools, and he proposes increased funding for charter schools. The United Methodist Church officially opposes the use of vouchers for sending children to private schools in the belief that vouchers take support away from public schools and could create possible entanglements between church and state. 

Bush has said he believes that younger workers should be allowed to divert money from the Social Security tax on their wages to private savings and market accounts. However, in a new resolution adopted last May on Social Security and women, the church rejected privatization of any part of the Social Security tax, observing that such changes endanger the system's ability to provide benefits, especially for elderly women who rely heavily on income from Social Security to meet their needs and who constitute the majority of recipients. This resolution also urged keeping the disability and survivor's benefits, inflation adjustments, and benefits for divorced and widowed spouses. 

Jesus Christ never hesitated to take a firm stand and state His clear position on controversial topics; wouldn't this same characteristic be exemplary of Christians?


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