Tuesday, April 22, 2003

The Broad Brush

Samizdata.net reports:

United Methodists take a moral Ba'ath

"The United Methodist Church are calling on Methodist George W. Bush to repent for overthrowing Saddam Hussain's regime in Iraq.
..and links to the following story: Liberal Methodist Leaders Call Bush to Repentance: Those Whose Stance Falls Outside Traditional Methodism Take President to Task

"Several officials of the United Methodist Church (UMC) are calling one of their fellow Methodists to repentance. While that, in and of itself, may not be unusual, it is noteworthy that the call appeared in a full-page magazine ad -- and the person called to repentance is President George W. Bush.

Among those signing the ad are UM Bishops Joseph Sprague and Melvin Talbert, and Board of Church and Society general secretary Jim Winkler."
Several things Samizdata forgot to mention or actually quote from this article:

"[Mark Tooley, head of the United Methodist committee of the Institute on Religion and Democracy] says that first of all, the signers of the ad 'are hardly symbols of strong, mainstream' United Methodist beliefs. He points out that Bishop Sprague denies that Jesus Christ is eternally divine, Bishop Talbert has endorsed same-sex 'marriage,' and Winkler is a pacifist.

According to Tooley, the UMC affirms Christ's full deity, opposes same-sex unions, and is not pacifist. "Yet these church officials claim it is President Bush who is violating his own church's teachings," he says.
Tooley does, however, go on to say:

"Bush is supposedly a bad Christian and a bad Methodist because, like most Methodists, he does not agree with these church officials in their equation of compassion with a large federal welfare state and in their opposition to a strong military defense for America."
...and he devolves into typical conservative anti-liberal rhetoric, but the crux of the matter is these ministers who placed the ad were not typical and not representative (nor did they officially represent) the United Methodist Church. Painting a denomination or religion with a broad brush based on the actions of a few of their members can be damaging in the long run.

And it's a trait I find I have to watch out for myself in considering the characteristics and motivations of Islamists. While extrememe fundamentalists cause most of the trouble, more traditional Muslims suffer by association. If I don't want people to believe that of my religion, I shouldn't believe it of theirs.

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