Methodism=Socialism?

December 21, 2010


Today, while I was looking for some muck to rake, I saw Kimberly Knight posted an interesting link.  Before I get to that, I want to tell you a little about Kimberly.  I met her a the Big Tent Xtianity conference here in Raleigh, where she spoke about sexuality and Christianity.  Actually, she spoke about homosexuality and Christianity, something she’s intimately familiar with, since she herself is gay and works in the UCC with the LGBT community.  She’s smart, funny, compelling and while I don’t know her well enough to call her “friend”, I’m certainly glad to know her.  That said, the link she posted was from TPMmuckraker about a blog post from Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation.  From there, I went to the Phillips’ blog post that the TPM article was based on.  I thought the stuff from TPM was bad, but Phillips own blog was really something.  Phillips said he recently walked past a Methodist Church whose sign read “Pass the DREAM Act”.  Then, he said “I have a DREAM.  That is, no more United Methodist Church.”  Phillips went on to say he grew up in the UMC, but left as a teen “because the Methodist Church is little more than the first Church of Karl Marx”.  I, too, grew up in the UMC and even at my most hardcore, conservative, cold-warrior days, I never saw any church as  being related to anything Marxist.  Mostly, because I took the time to learn a bit about communism; something Phillips should’ve done before making such an asinine statement.  Here are a few of Mr. Phillips criticisms of the UMC:

  • It’s pro-illegal immigration.  I suppose that’s because the church is in favor of the DREAM Act, as stated above.  In case you don’t know the DREAM Act allows illegal alien students (who meet certain requirements) to earn citizenship if they complete 2 years in the military or 4 years at an institute of higher learning.  Heaven forbid a church be in favor of treating people decently.
  • It’s “in the bag for socialist health care”.  Evidently, Mr. Phillips hasn’t been the recipient of our wonderful health care system’s largesse (said with a heavy dose of sarcasm).  If he had, he might feel differently about the situation.  But, again, he seems to think it’s a bad thing for a church to be concerned about the welfare of others.  He’s also upset that the UMC sent out “emails to their membership ‘debunking’ the myths of Obamacare.”  Guess he’s not a fan of folks getting enough information to make an informed decision.
  • “The Methodists joined the Socialists, Communists and Marxists for the “One Nation” March”.  Uh, no they didn’t.  They were going to, but the General Board on Church and Society backed out saying “The ‘One Nation Working Together’ rally began with a clean, clear message consistent with the social teachings of The United Methodist Church”, then  “devolved into nothing more than a gathering organized in opposition to the Restoring Honor rally. It also denounced the “un-Christ-like tone” of discourse in the country, including within the church itself.” (latter quote from Wikipedia) 
  • “Say, where are the liberal complaints on the separation of church and state?  I guess their outrage is selective.”  No, it’s not.  The subjects listed above are basic social justice issues and social justice has always been a major part of Methodist theology.  We’re merely carrying on a tradition set by our founding fathers (of Methodism) of working to improve the lives of all God’s children.  That, to me, seems to be a laudable goal for any church.

Personally, I don’t think the UMC goes far enough.  I’ve made no secret of my disdain for their policy on homosexuality .  If I had my way, sexual preference would play no part in anything the UMC did.  Of course, Phillips would say we’ve strayed even further from American values and patriotism.  Funny thing, though.  I don’t recall Jesus mentioning either one of those.  What I do recall is the injunction to love God and love my neighbor as myself.  If that makes me a socialist, color me red.

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4 Responses to “Methodism=Socialism?”

  1. Kimberly said

    First of all let me say thank you my friend (we will have to deepen that eh?) for your kind word and generous heart. You honor me beyond my measure. I am grateful to be on this journey with you as we seek Sophia amidst the cacophony.

    Thank you too for taking the time to thoughtfully and faithfully read and respond to Judson Phillips incomprehensible rant. I am deeply troubled by the volume and pervasiveness of these types of ignorant, xenophobic, bigoted spew fests. I am more than a little frightened for the health of our nation when such voices are in positions of power and influence. Ignorance in power scares the hell out of me.

    It is only with the consistent raising of reasonable, intelligent, faithful voices like yours – a voice crying out in the wilderness – to counter such dangerous absurdity that I am able to maintain anything like hope in a just, compassionate and peaceful society – the Kingdom.

    Grace and peace,
    Kimberly Knight
    Circuit Rider
    The Beatitudes Society

    • fireboy48 said

      No problem, Kimberly. I believe that what people like you and Hugh Hollowell are doing is following directly in the footsteps of Jesus. His time on Earth was spent ministering to those on the margins and, right now, who is more marginal than the homeless and LGBT communities?

      I will admit that the only time I can be thoughtful, faithful or respectful on this subject is in writing. Even then, it takes a concerted effort. I find myself hoping that these kind of statements are hyperbole and are rendered to get attention, not a true expression of how people really feel. Sometimes, I think that hope is in vain.
      We do what we can and try to show the rest of the world that all Christians aren’t wild-eyed fanatics, praying for an Old-Testament based theocracy in this country.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Beatitudes Society, Beatitudes Society. Beatitudes Society said: Methodism=Socialism? « But Not Yet http://bit.ly/hqj05b […]

  3. Nancy said

    Thank you for this article. As a lifelong United Methodist I have been deeply disturbed over the last 20 years by the “conservative” turn the church has taken. Most importantly the continued denial of basic respect for the GBLT community. Sitting through Annual conference had become a migrant inducing experience of despair as I listened to person after person seek to limit the gift of God’s FREE grace according to their definitions of who was Christian. So my feeling I guess is that if we are socialist to support social justice issues, that we should become more so in light of the condition of this county and the world.

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