May 4, 2004
By Linda Bloom*
(UMNS) — United Methodist and ecumenical representatives expressed
frustration over what they view as President Bush’s refusal to listen to
other religious voices regarding Iraq.
Their concerns surfaced during a May 4 press conference at the United Methodist General Conference.
McKinley Young, of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, referred to
the Iraq war as a “faith-based war” during his sermon in the morning
A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose
Bishop McKinley Young, of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, referred to the Iraq war as a “faith-based war."
made that reference, he said, because of the president’s comments to
journalist Bob Woodward about talking to “a higher Father” than his own
father for advice about going to war. The comments are found in Plan of
Attack, Woodward’s new book, with behind-the-scenes accounts of the
decision to go to war.
bishop noted that “he’s not the only one who hears from God” and
complained about using that as a sanction for war. “We did not elect him
as the priest of the nation,” Young said. “We elected him as
Melvin Talbert, ecumenical officer for the United Methodist Council of
Bishops, said he was disappointed by Bush’s snubbing of leaders of his
own denomination. “One of the pains on my heart has been his claim to be
ultra religious, yet he has not found the time to receive a delegation
of United Methodist bishops,” he explained.
Talbert added that every other U.S. president, with the exception of Ronald Reagan, has received such a delegation.
noted that a letter was sent to President Bush last spring on behalf of
bishops from the United Methodist Church and three historically black
Methodist denominations. A response was given, but Bush showed no
willingness to allow church leaders to meet with him to share their
concerns, he said.
who was an outspoken advocate of peaceful alternatives to war with
Iraq, pointed out that the United Methodist Church has a clear position
on war in its Social Principles. “War is, for us, not the first step you
take to get peace,” he explained. “It’s the last resort.
“It seems the commitment to the common good has dropped off the radar screen for this administration,” the bishop said.
|Bishop Melvin Talbert|
are continuing to speak out for peace in Iraq, according to Robina
Winbush, a representative of the Presbyterian Church (USA). The National
Council of Churches, for example, is promoting a “second season of
peacemaking” that will include a statement from religious leaders and
services over Memorial Day weekend to remember the dead on all sides of
the Iraqi conflict.
“We are continuing to look for ways the United Nations can have a key role (in Iraq),” she said.
a variety of settings, the churches also are interacting with Muslims
as a way to promote dialogue and educate members into a better
understanding of the Islamic faith.
Albert “Fritz” Mutti, president of the United Methodist Commission on
Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns, noted that his agency
reached out to the Islamic community shortly after the terrorist attacks
on Sept. 11, 2001, and has pledged to increase interaction with Muslims
during the next four years.
connections with Muslims are being made through groups like the
National and World Council of Churches. “The real tragedy is the whole
demonization of a religious community (because of terrorist actions),”
*Bloom 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.