May 6, 2004
By Linda Green*
(UMNS)—Delegates to the top legislative assembly of the United
Methodist Church voted to support a study of reparations for African
Americans and to petition the vice president and House of
Representatives to support the passage and signing of House Resolution
denomination’s 2004 General Conference approved a May 7 resolution
affirming a congressional committee studying reparations and slavery’s
effect on African Americans’ lives, economics and politics today.
approved resolution, a revision of 1996 General Conference action,
acknowledges the United Methodist Church’s profound regret for the
massive suffering and the tragic effect slavery and the transatlantic
slave trade had on millions of black men, women and children.
defined as making amends for a wrong or injury, is the payment numerous
African Americans and activists desire for the work black slaves did in
building up the United States and the abuses they suffered while
performing the task. They point to the government’s payout to Japanese
Americans who were held across America during World War II as one
example of other groups being paid for the wrongs the government imposed
resolution notes that the plan for the economic redistribution of land
and resources to former slaves after the Civil War was never enacted,
which made the “civil and political rights” of newly freed blacks “all
but meaningless.” It also says “conditions comparable to ‘economic
depression’ continue for millions of African Americans in communities
where unemployment often exceeds 50 percent.”
delegates voted to petition the president, vice president and the
United States House of Representatives to support the passage and
signing of H.R. 40. The delegates also mandated the United Methodist
Commission on Religion and Race and the churchwide Board of Church and
Society develop a strategy for interpretation and support of passage of
the delegates authorized the appropriate United Methodist boards and
agencies to develop and make available resources on slavery and the role
of theology in validating and supporting both the institution and the
abolition of the slave trade.
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer.
News media contact: (412) 325-6080 during General Conference, April 27-May 7. After May 10: (615) 742-5470.