Social action agency speaks out on Iran, immigration reform
April 25, 2006
|A UMNS photo by Kathy Gilbert
Winkler, top executive of the Board of Church and Society, stresses the
importance of taking a stand on immigration reform and nuclear
A UMNS Report
By Kathy L. Gilbert
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Facing two of today’s most critical issues, the
United Methodist Board of Church and Society passed resolutions urging
the United States and Iran to stop their “dangerous rhetoric” and called
for Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
The resolution, “Iran: Diplomacy Over War,” begins by quoting Ecclesiastes 9:17-18 (The Message):
“The quiet words of the wise are more effective than the ranting of a
king of fools. Wisdom is better than warheads, but one hothead can ruin
the good earth.”
Recently the rhetoric between the two countries about Iran’s nuclear
energy program has reached “dangerous” levels, said members of the board
of directors at their April 20-23 spring meeting in Washington.
“We strongly urge the governments of the U.S. and Iran to moderate
their language and begin constructive conversation about a peaceable
future,” the resolution states. “We call upon Iran to work with the
International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations Security
Council to take confidence-building measures, including suspension of
uranium enrichment activities and the clarification of all outstanding
issues related to the verification of its nuclear program.”
The resolution goes on to urge all nations to work to strengthen the
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and lead the world to the elimination
of nuclear weapons.
In another resolution, the board made a strong statement in support of comprehensive immigration reform in the United States.
“I think it is important we go on record about these two critical
issues,” said Jim Winkler, top executive with the United Methodist Board
of Church and Society.
The board also took action on a wide range of issues, including child marriage and the death penalty.
“Open discussion continues in the United States regarding an attack
on Iran,” Winkler said in his opening address to the board. “Let me make
it clear that I consider the present government in Iran to be
reprehensible. I find a lot of governments to be reprehensible.”
However, he reminded board members that in 1953, the United States
overthrew the elected government of Iran to put Shah Mohammed Pahlavi,
“a dictatorial, murderous tyrant,” back in power.
“I suspect only a small percentage of Americans are aware of this
history,” he said. “I guarantee you the people of Iran remember this
“I pray that both the United States and Iran will tone down the
reckless rhetoric used in recent months. I pray the United States will
announce to the world that we yearn for a day when no nation or group on
the planet possesses weapons of mass destruction and that the United
States will turn over a new leaf and take the lead in dismantling them.”
The resolution on immigration reform celebrated the movement for
civil rights for people who are undocumented and expressed concern about
the level of anti-immigrant emotion the debate has created.
|A UMNS photo by Kathy Gilbert
Retiring Bishop Susan Morrison (second from left) receives fond farewells from members of the Board of Church and Society.
“We are deeply concerned with the anti-immigrant legislation that
passed the U.S. House of Representatives in December 2005,” the
“Because of the injustice of U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner’s bill, we
are compelled by our faith to publicly state that if such a bill is
passed into U.S. law, we will have no other choice than to follow the
commands of Jesus to minister to the stranger, and to obey our
conscience and our Scriptures, even if that leads us to commit acts of
The resolution calls for reform that will include earned pathways to
citizenship for all immigrants, protection of the rights of workers
through safe, orderly and legal avenues to enter the United States,
reuniting families separated by migration, and effective and
humanitarian border protection.
Resolutions and other items
In other action, the board:
- Passed a resolution calling upon the international community to work toward ending child marriage. (See related story.)
- Passed a resolution recognizing the 50th anniversary of the United
Methodist Church’s opposition to the death penalty. The board urged all
United Methodists to “practice transformative love, to comfort the
victims of crime, to humanize those convicted of crime and to advocate
for an end to the death penalty in our criminal justice system.”
- Joined the National Religious Campaign against Torture. Several
interfaith groups belong to the National Religious Campaign Against
Torture, which is rooted in different religions that stand in opposition
to “torture and cruel and inhumane practices by anyone for any
- Became a co-sponsor of “Lost Boys: Found!” at George Mason
University. “Lost Boys: Found! A Time for Reunion, Vision, Advocacy and
Hope with the Lost Boys of Sudan” is a reunion of the “Lost Boys” from
Sudan who have resettled in the United States. The gathering will be
July 7-8 at Crossroads United Methodist Church in Ashburn, Va. The “Lost
Boys” will speak on the humanitarian crisis in Sudan. The board
approved a $5,000 Peace with Justice grant for the event.
- Joined the Herndon Alliance coalition. The faith-based organization
works for comprehensive health care reform, with the goal of providing
quality affordable health care for everyone.
- Became a member of Informed Meeting Exchange. Member organizations
pledge to conduct meetings in environments free from the threat of labor
disputes. Anthony Dougdale with UniteHere presented information about
the struggle of hotel workers in the face of continuing mergers and
consolidation of hotels.
- Passed a resolution to establish the Social Justice Ministries
Endowment Fund through the United Methodist Foundation. The fund will
support the work of the Board of Church and Society.
- Adopted a proposed revision of the Social Creed, which will be
presented to the 2008 General Conference for action. (See related
- Awarded $138,600 in Ethnic Local Church grants and $49,500 in Peace with Justice grants.
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.