May 30, 2006
Shameful resolutionsBy Matt May
You've got to hand it to the anti—war zealots on the left: No matter the venue, no matter the inappropriateness of time and place, they manage to show up and bark at the moon or the sun or anyone who will listen.
The weekend before last, the Detroit Conference of the United Methodist Church held its Annual Conference at Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan. As the newly minted Historian/Archivist for the Conference, the gathering was a first for me and, as such, quite eye—opening.
One might think a gathering of Methodists would be safe from political protest. However, inevitably, elements of the left attempted to divert attention away from the real task of the Conference — the business of the church and perhaps discussions on how to revive its falling membership, a subject that was mentioned time and again during the weekend.
As the son of a United Methodist minister whose politics are slightly to the left of Bernie Sanders, it is not surprising to find anti—war, 'peace—at—any—cost' individuals within the clergy. But it was somewhat surprising to find that some of these clergy thought the Annual Conference was the best place to shout out their views and attempt to position the United Methodist Church as a vehicle of condemnation upon one of its own — President George W. Bush.
Prior to the opening worship service on Friday, May 19, a small band of anti—war protestors gathered outside the doors of the chapel. One man — an ordained minister serving within the Conference — held aloft a giant poster depicting, in part, a flag—draped casket to condemn the war. The same man was distributing yellow pieces of paper (no doubt the irony was lost on this guy) advertising the work of the Methodist Federation for Social Action. The paper invited everyone at Conference to join in a 'litany of thanksgiving.' Who was to be praised?
One of the privileges of voting members of the Conference is the ability to write resolutions that are submitted for approval of the entire Conference. To their credit, the activists had done their homework having introduced resolutions aimed at politicizing the Conference and the church. For instance:
Resolution 24, 'An Affirmation of Christian Values,' which the sponsors requested that each congregation publish and use in worship, reads in part:
Resolution 27 reads in part:
Had enough? Try Resolution on 30 for size, 'We Oppose War with Iran':
Got that? According to the author of the resolution, the aggressive, unpredictable party in the Iranian question is not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but George W. Bush and the United States of America. Resolution 30 passed, by the way.
Such accusations and reliance on debunked myths and legends have been countered effectively time and again — though they still resonate with the left. Leave it to the great Victor Davis Hanson to once again give the correct response to the sort of rhetoric certain activists wished to write into the Annual Conference policy:
One might ask: Who cares? So what if a minority of Bush Derangement Syndrome victims wish to introduce resolutions that sound like press releases from al—Qaeda? What's the harm? Here's the harm: From the pre—Annual Conference mailing:
As the current recorder of history for the Detroit Conference, it is my duty to note all of the resolutions in official capacities with neither prejudice nor malice. As a United Methodist, it is easy to see how certain anti—war and anti—violence stances are compatible with the Discipline of the church — to a point. As an American citizen living in reality, however, actions such as those described above are wrongheaded and offensive.
Such resolutions might be easier to take if these same people submitted resolutions celebrating the three free and fair elections held in Iraq in 2005 during our 'occupation.' They would be easier to swallow if there was a resolution celebrating the democratization of a nation that three years ago was under the iron boot of a murdering, raping madman. They would be easier to take if the assumptions of the resolution authors were not to first, last and always blame the United States of America for the ills of the world.
Unsurprisingly, the 1999 Annual Conference did not see a resolution condemning the air strikes against Iraq ordered by President Bill Clinton late in 1998. In addition, the 2002 Annual Conference had only this to say in its condemnation of the attacks of September 11, 2001:
It is tempting to ask exactly which group of the oppressed the 2002 Conference was referring: females and homosexuals in an Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban or women in Iraq who 'dated' the Hussein brothers, or those who had limbs and other body parts sliced off because they dare spoke against Saddam? Where was the outrage then? There was nothing but silence.
The final line of the 'litany of thanksgiving' reads as such: 'May we always turn the cheek and dialogue with those who call us unpatriotic.' Again, an assumption is proffered. Or is it perhaps a case of projection?
Nobody is calling you unpatriotic. But twisting history, logic and what has truly been accomplished in Iraq and Afghanistan does entitle people to rightly point out that, all too often, you are on the wrong side of history and it is embarrassing to the church in the eyes of this historian. It also entitles people to call your automatic assumptions of 'neoconservative' guilt and criminality in the face of true evil disingenuous to boot, especially when nothing of the kind apparently applied to the true terrorists of the world.
It is right to call you wrong and facile. Because that's exactly what you are.
Matt May is a freelance writer and the Historian/Archivist of the Detroit Conference of the United Methodist Church (for now). Contact Matt May.