Methodism=Socialism?

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.