The Monthly Update

April 2003 Update


Bits and Pieces from across the United Methodist Church


The right is more precious than peace.  - Woodrow Wilson

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Of Interest.

+ The text of President Bush's remarks speaking to the public about the Iraqi War.

                                                                                                                                    Wednesday, March 20, 2003.

My fellow citizens, at this hour American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger. On my orders, coalition forces have begun striking selected targets of military importance to undermine Saddam Hussein's ability to wage war. These are opening stages of what will be a broad and concerted campaign. More than 35 countries are giving crucial support, from the use of naval and air bases, to help with intelligence and logistics, to the deployment of combat units. Every nation in this coalition has chosen to bear the duty and share the honor of serving in our common defense.

To all of the men and women of the United States armed forces now in the Middle East, the peace of a troubled world and the hopes of an oppressed people now depend on you. That trust is well placed.

The enemies you confront will come to know your skill and bravery. The people you liberate will witness the honorable and decent spirit of the American military.

In this conflict, America faces an enemy who has no regard for conventions of war or rules of morality. Saddam Hussein has placed Iraqi troops and equipment in civilian areas, attempting to use innocent men, women and children as shields for his own military - a final atrocity against his people.

I want Americans and all the world to know that coalition forces will make every effort to spare innocent civilians from harm. A campaign on the harsh terrain of a nation as large as California could be longer and more difficult than some predict. And helping Iraqis achieve a united, stable and free country will require our sustained commitment.

We come to Iraq with respect for its citizens, for their great civilization and for the religious faiths they practice. We have no ambition in Iraq, except to remove a threat and restore control of that country to its own people.

I know that the families of our military are praying that all those who serve will return safely and soon.

Millions of Americans are praying with you for the safety of your loved ones and for the protection of the innocent. For your sacrifice, you have the gratitude and respect of the American people and you can know that our forces will be coming home as soon as their work is done.

Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly, yet our purpose is sure. The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder. We will meet that threat now with our Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines, so that we do not have to meet it later with armies of firefighters and police and doctors on the streets of our cities.

Now that conflict has come, the only way to limit its duration is to apply decisive force. And I assure you, this will not be a campaign of half measures and we will accept no outcome but victory.

My fellow citizens, the dangers to our country and the world will be overcome. We will pass through this time of peril and carry on the work of peace. We will defend our freedom. We will bring freedom to others. And we will prevail.

May God bless our country and all who defend her.


+ Now more than ever men and women in harm’s way in the Persian Gulf. 80,000 have asked us to “adopt” them in prayer. Now, as we may be only hours away from the beginning of the war, will you “adopt” a military member in prayer? Please do so online right now. You’ll receive a handsome free certificate to download which will remind you to pray.                                                         - Source: Presidential Prayer Team.


+ Methodist Bishops' Anti-War Stance Inappropriate, Tooley Says A conservative protestant leader says United Methodist bishops have got it all wrong when it comes to their stance on Iraq -- and that he is disgusted with them for gathering in Washington to protest possible military action against the Middle Eastern nation.The group of United Methodist bishops met recently in the nation's capital to protest possible military action to remove Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein from power. Bishop Sharon A. Brown Christopher <>, the president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, has even gone so far as to say war against Iraq would be "going against the very grain of our understanding of the gospel" and that a pre-emptive strike "does not reflect restraint."

     Mark Tooley with the Institute on Religion and Democracy <> says such rhetoric -- like that from Bishop Christopher -- does not reflect the views of local, mainstream Methodists. "People of good will can disagree or agree whether or not the U.S. should take military action to depose Saddam Hussein," Tooley says, "but I think that the vast majority of Methodists would think it's inappropriate that these bishops, purporting to speak for our church, were protesting to the president, then against his policies." Tooley says for the past 40 years, Methodist bishops have been making far-left political statements that are completely out of step with true Christianity. The anti-war bishops, he says, could find better ways to spend their time."Perhaps these bishops, rather than critiquing President Bush's policies, ought to look to one of their own and make some attempt to enforce or uphold Christian doctrine within the Methodist Council of Bishops," he says. Tooley says the bishops opposing military action against Iraq have little expertise on war and the Middle East, and therefore have no mandate to make such statements. Among the protesters was Joseph Sprague, a controversial bishop from Chicago who has openly rejected the virgin birth and physical resurrection of Jesus Christ.[Note: We agree with Mr. Tooley. We have no confidence in these political perspectives of UM officials. This is being presented since it is timely.]  - Oct. 22, 2002; from Mark Tooley of the Institute on Religion and Democracy


(UM) General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM). 

* Special Report from the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD):

[Note: This is included to show 1) how some of your apportionment dollars are spent; 2) a trend in our general boards and agencies and denominational leadership toward anti-Americanism; and 3) the depth of problems at the GBGM. Note the similarity to the Marxist rhetoric in these statements to that of similar issues in the 1960s - 1980s. In reading these statements, do not confuse this rhetoric with reality. These comments reflect the speakers' biases and not the truth.]

     A conference that sharply condemned the U.S. role in the world was convened at the United Methodist-owned United Nations Church Center in New York, with funding from the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries. Speakers at the conference, called The Impact of War on Children, accused the U.S. of intentionally slaughtering civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and elsewhere in order to create an American empire in the Middle East. The January 26 conference was organized by the International Action Center, founded by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, and by Women for Mutual Security. Other sponsors included Al Awada Palestine Right of Return Coalition, Pastors for Peace, Congress for Korean Reunification, and the Committee to Stop U.S. War in Colombia, among others.

     According to conference organizer Lenora Foerstel of Women for Mutual Security, the Board of Global Ministries provided $5,000 in funding for the conference. The United Nations Church Center is owned by the United Methodist Women's Division. Foerstel said she was warned in the course of her fundraising for the conference that, "people would"  never give you a penny after September 11! But the Board of Global Ministries came to her rescue. "I never could have organized it without them!," she exclaimed. Foerstel specifically thanked Elizabeth Calvin, executive secretary for women and children at the board, for helping with the conference.

     Foerstel's group, Women for Mutual Security, is a pro-disarmament group affiliated with Margarita Papandreou, the ex-wife of a former Greek prime minister. According to Foerstel, the U.S. has dropped bombs on or been involved in wars in 29 countries since World War II, which she finds "The U.S. has no passion or feeling for what's going on in the world," she complained. "They bring nations to rubble. Wars waged by the U.S. have racist underpinning," she alleged. Meanwhile, political leaders and the media remain silent.Foerstel urged her audience of activists to take action. "I haven't paid a dime in taxes to the U.S. Government since 1980," boasted Kathy Kelly of Voices in the Wildness, another sponsor of the conference. "It would be like giving to gangs. The people of Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq have had the same kind of fear as the people of New York,"  Kelly said, comparing the U.S. wars in those countries to the events of September 11. She recalled that after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait she went to Iraq as part of a "peace" delegation to



"prevent" war by the U.S., but she failed. "I didn't care if the U.S. slipped off the planet!" she remembered. "The same people who bombed Hiroshima are still in charge!" Kelly warned."The same people who started the Cold War and the

Vietnam War are still in charge! The same people who caused deaths in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua are still in charge! The same people who allow Israel to be an occupying power are still in charge! The same people who allow families to die in the snows of Afghanistan are still in power! Kelly recalled hearing a Palestinian school child exclaim after September 11, "Allah wanted to punish the U.S. for what they've done." Kelly said the U.S. needs to "see ourselves as others see us" and abandon its policies of "child sacrifice." Askah Samad Matias, a professor from the City College of New York, called the U.S. wars against innocent civilians around the world a result of "economic greed and an attempt to establish a world dictatorship of capitalism." These wars also are "cheap population control" and are designed to "force poor countries to borrow money from the West." "They had to create wars against crime, drugs and terrorism to keep the defense budget high," Matias explained.They want to wipe out people so they can get to oil." Matias warned that Somalia is next on the list of nations to be invaded by the U.S. because it has oil and natural gas.She described the new movie "Black Hawk Down" about the U.S. military involvement in Somalia a decade ago as a "propaganda film" to prepare the U.S. people for another invasion of Somalia." "Fortunately after ten months they were forced out," Matias gratefully recalled of the last U.S. military intervention in Somalia, whose humanitarian goals to feed starving Somalis Matias dismissed scornfully.

     Nadia Ahmed of Students for International Peace and Justice, another conference sponsor, recalled that Allied bombers "incinerated innocent people in Iraq" during the Persian Gulf War. "The holocaust there continues because of United Nations sanctions against Iraq, thanks to U.S. insistence. This is not surprising, in light of U.S. perpetrated genocide" over the years against not only Iraq but also Vietnam and Latin America. "We are determined to destroy people's homes, hospitals and orphanages," Ahmed claimed of the U.S. "But we can't even find three Bedouins," she said of the hunt for al Qaeda leaders such as Osama bin Laden. "Aggressors on both sides of the Atlantic will destroy each other," she warned of both the U.S. and al Qaeda terrorists. " We need to uphold the teachings of our prophets.We can and must stop this war."

     Both Ahmed and Matias are Muslim and made religious references during their remarks. Oddly, although the conference was United Methodist-sponsored and hosted, there were no Christian references during the five hour conference

     Sara Flounders of the International Action Center asked if civilian casualties by the U.S. military were "an accident or the intent." Specifically she alleged that the U.S. had destroyed water treatment facilities in Iraq with "malice aforethought" as part of a "conspiracy to destroy the civilian infrastructure."

     "You'd think you were reading a Nazi document," Flounders said of Pentagon documents about U.S. policy in Iraq. "The government knows what it is doing," she concluded, calling U.S. policy against Iraq a "war crime." U.S. policy in Iraq, along with U.S. destruction of a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, were "calculated to do the most damage to the most defenseless," Flounders said. All of it's part of a U.S. plan for "colonization in the Middle East," she believes. Flounders alleged that in Bosnia the U.S. also deliberately targeted schools, hospitals and especially maternity wards. "Thanks to U.S. actions there and in Afghanistan, the U.S. now has permanent military bases in Bosnia and in Central Asia." "U.S. wars are for conquest and control in the entire region," she insisted.

     There's been the sharpest decline in human history in terms of living standards," Flounders said of countries victimized by the U.S. "This is not a mistake, she declared, but part of a deliberate strategy of regional conquest for the U.S. Children are specifically targeted by the U.S., Flounders said, because when they become educated they are a "threat to the corporate powers that want to control the world." Flounders optimistically speculated that the Pentagon has "far over reached itself" because its big spending has created poverty at home and living standards in the U.S. are, she claimed, "below what they were in 1980."

     "Stop U.S. Government aggression!" was the message of Yoomi Jeong of the Korea Truth Commission/Congress for Korean Reunification. Jeong has worked for years to get the U.S. indicted for "war crimes" committed during the Korean War. "We have been subject to the longest occupation and sanctions by the U.S.," Jeong complained, referring to the presence of U.S. troops in South Korea and U.S. sanctions against the communist regime of North Korea. Jeong tried to explain the "ugly truth" of the U.S. "occupation and suppression of the Korean people." She accused the U.S. of fomenting the Korean War and of perpetrating numerous civilian "massacres." "There is growing resistance in Korea to U.S. "imperialism," she celebrated. "More and more Koreans are realizing that the U.S. is a "stumbling block to reunification."

     The "corporate and banking elites" have the "fists of the Pentagon standing behind them," discerned Sarah Sloan of



the International ANSWER Coalition, which is affiliated with the International Action Center, another conference sponsor.

     Gail Walker of Pastors for Peace, another conference sponsor, recalled surviving an attack upon U.S.-sponsored Contra fighters in Nicaragua when she visited there in the 1980s. "The U.S. has perpetrated acts of aggression forever," Walker said. It's said the U.S. was founded on genocide," she added, citing millions of Indians and blacks who have died over the centuries since America's discovery by Europeans."The U.S. [was] bombing the hell out of Afghanistan," Walker said. "Afghanis will starve to death as a result of the U.S. campaign." She also complained about the U.S. "war" against Cuba. Walker concluded, urging activism against U.S. hegemony around the world.

            "It's our responsibility to push the Navy out," Gloria Quionones said of her campaign to shut down U.S. Navy targeting ranges in Vieques, Puerto Rico."

[Note: A shortage of space prevents our printing more of the report, but one can realize that this is problematic. One can discern from this extreme rhetoric and the perspective from which they come that their view is biased in the extreme. The problem arises when United Methodist money supports this type of activity and when these people purport to represent the people of the church]

- The Institute on Religion and Democracy;

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The less there is of fear, the less there is of danger.  - Livy


Global Outlook


What can alone ennoble fight?  A noble cause!  - Thomas Campbell

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Iraq. Information that is coming out of Iraq to us:

+ Group Says Church Leaders do Not Represent People in the Pews on Iraq War delegations

 Fairfax, VA - According to leaders of the Association of Church Renewal (ACR), church statements opposing war with Iraq do not represent the views of most members of those churches. The ACR is an ecumenical association of mainline church organizations committed to advocating orthodox Christian teaching and practice in their respective denominations.  "This is not a new phenomenon," said James Heidinger of Good News, a magazine dedicated to renewal in the United Methodist Church. "Most church elites do not consult the members of the church before issuing such statements, largely because elites know that their opinions are not representative."  A recent Gallup poll confirmed this observation, noting that opinion among Christians about possible war with Iraq tracks closely with national opinion. In fact, 60% of those who found religion to be "very important" in their lives supported military action against Iraq. Only 49% of those who found religion to be "not very important" in their lives supported war with Iraq. Of all Americans, 59% support military action.  Parker Williamson, editor of the Presbyterian Layman, said, "The simple fact is that in this issue - as is the case with many others wherein denominational officials purport to speak for their constituencies - ecclesiastical bureaucrats are making statements that most of their members would disavow. Reverends Clifton Kirkpatrick (Presbyterian), Frank Griswold (Episcopal), Melvin Talbert (United Methodist) and their associates are not leaders. They are moving in lockstep, marching to the cadence of the National Council of Churches, an organization that has scant credibility among Protestant Christians in the United States." Heidinger had strong words for the National Council of Churches (NCC), which has sent anti-war delegations to France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Great Britain. A spokesperson for the NCC delegation to France said his group represented "the official position of the National Council of Churches--with 50 million members in 36 denominations--and the Roman Catholic Church, with nearly 64 million U.S. members," implying that they spoke for over 110 million American churchgoers. "It's ludicrous for the NCC to claim such a thing," Heidinger said. "It is simply untrue. American Christians, while certainly not eager for war, are still largely in support of the President's policy."  Williamson commented that this was a particularly egregious example of misrepresentation by the NCC. "The NCC claim is false. They know that there is a variety of opinions on this issue. Lying to the people of France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Britain about the opinion of Christians in the United States misleads the European public, undermines honest debate and, in the end, discredits the ecumenical movement which these fraudulently purport to represent.

[Note: This is what we have been saying and has been published in two previously Monthly Updates.]

- Source:



+ Many of the people of Iraq see the coming invasion of American troops as a liberation. They are asking anxiously, "Are you coming soon?" "Are you coming soon?"   - Information received on March 17, 2003.


+ Over 5,000 children die each month due to starvation and disease as a result of diversion of the "Oil for Peace" revenues away from the people of Iraq.            - U.N. information as reported on the Sean Hannity Show


National Council of Churches (NCC). NCC's Edgar holds to belief that war can be averted

     Even as a U.S.-led military action against Iraq appear[ed] imminent to most Americans, the Rev. Bob Edgar holds steadfast to his belief that war can be averted. As late as March 16, he was among those rallying Americans in Washington with a candlelight vigil and concert against war, as part of a simultaneous rolling vigil across the world. "We have to find a way to shape arguments (about war) using the lens of the religious community," says Edgar, a United Methodist clergyman. A former Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania, Edgar served six terms in the 1970s and '80s, he has reshaped the NCC's mission and vision. Edgar took a delegation of religious leaders to Iraq last fall. "We've been on the 'Today Show,' 'Nightline,' the Fox News 'Point-Counterpoint' on Friday night and with Chris Matthews on 'Hardball,'" he says. "We have done some things to get the media's attention." Part of the campaign to raise awareness has included placing a full-page ad in the New York Times, which in his words "caused a stir." "It cost $90,000 to do that," he says. "The ad said, 'Mr. President: you tell us Jesus has changed your heart. We pray that he will change your mind.' And then we listed quotes from Bishop Melvin Talbert and a quote from Jim Winkler (head of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society)."

     Edgar says he is troubled by "George Bush's arrogance." The president, he says, seems to believe that "God is not only on his side, but God is not on anyone else's side. I am frustrated with Bush's rhetoric, when it's so clear that he is blinded by the complexity (of the issues) and captured by the simplicity of his own arguments. Edgar also suspects the president's advisers are helping shape his religious rhetoric for their own purposes.

[Note: It is interesting that Edgar imputes characteristics onto President Bush that we have often seen among the leadership of the NCC and the United Methodist Church.]

- Ann Whiting; Nashville, Tenn.; 10-71BP{142}; March 17, 2003.


The United Kingdom.  Message from England
No matter what your views on President Bush's statement of upcoming war, this, from an English journalist, is very interesting. Just a word of background for those of you who aren't familiar with the UK's Daily Mirror.This is a notoriously left-wing daily that is normally not supportive of the "Colonials" across the Atlantic.

Tony Parsons ... Daily Mirror ... September 11, 2002

     One year ago, the world witnessed a unique kind of broadcasting -- the mass murder of thousands, live on television. As a lesson in the pitiless cruelty of the human race, September 11 was up there with Pol Pot's Mountain of Skulls in Cambodia, or the skeletal bodies stacked like garbage in the Nazi concentration camps. An unspeakable act so cruel, so calculated and so utterly merciless that surely the world could agree on one thing - nobody deserves this fate. Surely there could be consensus: The victims were truly innocent, the perpetrators truly evil.
     But to the world's eternal shame, 9/11 is increasingly seen as America's comeuppance.
     Incredibly, anti-Americanism has increased over the last year. There has always been a simmering resentment to the USA in this country; too loud, too rich, too full of themselves, and so much happier than Europeans -- but it has become an epidemic. And it seems incredible to me. More than that, it turns my stomach.
     America is this country's greatest friend and our staunchest ally. We are bonded to the US by culture, language and blood. A little over half a century ago, around half a million Americans died for our freedoms, as well as their own.
Have we forgotten so soon? And exactly a year ago, thousands of  ordinary men, women and children -- not just Americans, but from dozens of countries were butchered by a small group of religious fanatics. Are we so quick to betray them? What touched the heart about those who died in the Twin Towers and on the planes, was that we recognized them. Young fathers and mothers, somebody's son and somebody's daughter, husbands, wives, and children, some unborn.
     And these people brought it on themselves? Their nation is to blame for their meticulously planned slaughter? These days you don't have to be some dust-encrusted nut job in Kabul or Karachi or Finsbury Park to see America as the Great Satan.


     The anti-American alliance is made up of self-loathing liberals who blame the Americans for every ill in the Third World, and conservatives suffering from power-envy, bitter that the world's only superpower can do what it likes without having to ask permission.
     The truth is that America has behaved with enormous restraint since September 11.
     Remember ... remember.... remember ... the gut-wrenching tapes of weeping men phoning their wives to say, "I love you," before they were burned alive.
     Remember those people leaping to their deaths from the top of burning skyscrapers. Remember the hundreds of firemen buried alive.
     Remember the smiling face of that beautiful little girl who was on one of the planes with her mum.
     Remember .... remember ... And realize that America has never retaliated for 9/11 in anything like the way it could have.
     So a few al-Qaeda tourists got locked up without a trial in Camp X-ray?
     Pass the Kleenex ....
     So some Afghan wedding receptions were shot up after they merrily fired their semi-automatics in a sky full of American planes? A shame, but maybe next time they should stick to confetti.
     AMERICA could have turned a large chunk of the world into a parking lot. That it didn't is a sign of strength. American voices are already being raised against attacking Iraq -- that's what a democracy is for. How many in the Islamic world will have a minute's silence for the slaughtered innocents of 9/11? How many Islamic leaders will have the guts to say that the mass murder of 9/11 was an abomination?
     When the news of 9/11 broke on the West Bank, those freedom-loving Palestinians were dancing in the street. America watched all of that -- and didn't push the button.
     We should thank the stars that America is the most powerful nation in the world. I still find it incredible that 9/11 did not provoke all-out war. Not a "war on terrorism." A real war. The fundamentalist dudes are talking about "opening the gates of hell" if America attacks Iraq.
     Well, America could have opened the gates of hell like you wouldn't believe. The US is the most militarily powerful nation that ever strode the face of the earth.The campaign in Afghanistan may have been less than perfect and the planned war on Iraq may be misconceived.
     But don't blame America for not bringing peace and light to these wretched countries. How many democracies are there in the Middle East,or in the Muslim world? You can count them on the fingers of one hand -- assuming you
haven't had any chopped off for minor shoplifting.
     I love America, yet America is hated. I guess that makes me Bush's poodle... But I would rather be a dog in New York City than a Prince in Riyadh.
     Above all, America is hated because it is what every country wants to be rich, free, strong, open, optimistic. Not ground down by the past, or religion, or some caste system. America is the best friend this country ever had and we should start remembering that.
     Or do you really think the USA is the root of all evil? Tell it to the loved ones of the men and women who leaped to their death from the burning towers. Tell it to the nursing mothers whose husbands died on one of the hijacked planes, or were ripped apart in a collapsing skyscraper. And tell it to the hundreds of young widows whose husbands worked for the New York Fire Department.
     To our shame, George Bush gets a worse press than Saddam Hussein. Once we were told that Saddam gassed the Kurds, tortured his own people and set up rape-camps in Kuwait. Now we are told he likes Quality Street. Save me the orange center, Oh Mighty One!
     Remember .... remember ... September 11. One of the greatest atrocities in human history was committed against America. No, do more than remember. Never forget.
                                                                                                                                                - Source: E-mail

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And though hard be the task,

Keep a stiff upper lip.

                                     - Phoebe Cary