My grandfather and great-grandfather were UMC ministers and many of my family members are still on its rolls. In fact, I've been thinking about returning to the UMC. I guess my roots are calling me.
I drifted away thinking I needed a denomination that embraced a pentecostal tradition more and had clearly defined guidelines for living. Ironically, many such churches ostracize members that don't get with their political agenda to force a conservative Christian doctrine onto the nation, and I don't think that's what the Apostles advocated.
HuffPo reports that Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation and someone who claims to be a former member of the UMC, calls the denomination the "religious arm of socialism" and "the first Church of Karl Marx."
TPM Muckraker says that after seeing a sign at a UMC building in Washington D.C. for the Dream Act (The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, which failed to pass in Congress), Phillips wrote at his blog that he said "I have a DREAM. That is, no more United Methodist Church."
It seems that he divined from this sign that the UMC is "pro-illegal immigration," but he also maligns the UMC because it supports health care reform and helping the poor. He probably holds similar animosities toward the Christians who support the views of Sojourner's Magazine. Apparently in Phillips's mind, Jesus of Nazareth would have objected to helping the poor or being willing to pay more in taxes so your fellow citizens could have access to health care. (Fox News pundit Bill O'Reilly also imagines that Jesus believed in locking people out rather than loving people in.) So, Phillips wants "no more" UMC.
Naturally, Phillips tosses around the word "freedom" a lot as though only he knows what the word means. I continue to be amazed at how often people who proclaim themselves "patriots" and "freedom-loving Americans" seek to diminish the rights of others. Speaking of the Methodist church, Phillips writes:
"They want amnesty, they want "economic justice", they opposed "global climate change" (earth to the Methodists, man isn't doing it), fighting global poverty (here is another hint, most poverty is caused by a lack of freedom and lack of a free enterprise system). Not shockingly, the Methodists side with the Islamists against Israel, and of course oppose America in Iraq."So, there you go. Another Tea Party leader is showing his true colors as anti-freedom of religion. So much for the Constitution of the United States of America they claim to love so much. Perhaps this tendency to want to control other people's religious beliefs is why so many Tea Party members love Sarah "Dominion Theologist" Palin.
You can read Phillips's blog to verify his statements; however, you will have to subscribe. Can you stomach that?
At LoveRadically, writing about Phillips's attack on the UMC after he supposedly saw a Dream Act sign , the blogger says:
I am not going engage Mr.Phillips on his ignorance of the United Methodist Church or his blatant over-generalization of all the members of the UMC as people who hate American. As an aside, I dare you sir to step into my church on Sunday morning and tell our veterans they hate America. Nor will I debate Mr. Phillips's stance on the DREAM Act or any other legislation. I will only ask Mr. Phillips why HE hates America and democracy? I only make that assumption because Mr. Phillips seems to dislike the way a democratic government works, that is debating and discussing the issues of the day instead of condemning an entire denomination because of one sign outside one building.Yep. But I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that Phillips knows the history of the church and its founders, Charles and John Wesley, and thinks that he, Phillips, a Tea Party leader, somehow has greater wisdom.
From what I've read of his rhetoric elsewhere, the man misunderstands "separation of church and state." He denounces the UMC for sending emails to its members about church leaders' positions on political issues. So, he doesn't seem to get that separation of church and state does not mean people of faith lose freedom of speech.
Earth to Mr. Phillips: The evangelical Christian right has been politically active for a long time! Maybe you should read some history books (not those from Texas, however). Also, again, see Sarah Palin.