Oct. 7, 2004
A UMNS Analysis
By Amy Green*
United Methodist Church has both Republican and Democratic candidates
in this presidential election, but their beliefs don’t always match the
President Bush has been most criticized by
church leaders for his invasion of Iraq. His “pre-emptive strike”
strategy prompted outcry from some bishops, who saw it as a violation of
the belief that war should be a last resort. The church’s Book of
Discipline calls on United Methodists to “reject war as a usual
instrument of national foreign policy and insist that the first moral
duty of all nations (be) to resolve by peaceful means every dispute that
Like Bush, both Vice President Dick Cheney and
U.S. Sen. John Edwards, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, are
United Methodist. The Democratic presidential nominee, U.S. Sen. John
Kerry, is Catholic.
the Bush and Kerry campaigns deviate from United Methodist beliefs on a
variety of issues. The denomination’s Board of Church and Society has
put together a guide to help voters compare the candidates’ beliefs to
the church’s. The resource, available at http://www.umc-gbcs.org/uploads/csa/2742004%20Election%20Platforms.pdf, is compiled from the church’s Social Principles and resolutions, campaign platforms and candidates’ statements.
Here are a few highlights:
United Methodist Church supports conflict resolution through the United
Nations and sees cooperation with the organization as an alternative to
war and terrorism. The church opposes indiscriminate military force to
fight terrorism. Bush supports the Patriot Act, which gives expanded
powers to law enforcement and intelligence agencies in fighting
terrorism, while Sen. John Kerry advocates letting it expire.
church has quarreled internally for years over homosexuality. Its top
legislative body, the General Conference, voted last spring to retain
its stance that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching
and that marriage is for a man and woman. The church supports the basic
rights of homosexuals to housing, education, employment and other
services. Bush supports a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
Kerry is against gay marriage but opposes a constitutional amendment
banning gay marriage. He supports civil rights for homosexuals.
denomination supports keeping abortion legal but opposes late-term or
partial-birth abortion except for when a mother’s life is in danger or
severe deformities make life impossible for a fetus. Bush supports a
constitutional amendment banning abortion and legislation granting 14th
Amendment protection to unborn children. Kerry supports keeping abortion
legal but opposes partial-birth abortion. Kerry has said he would
support a ban on partial-birth abortion if an exception were allowed for
cases when the life or the health of the mother was at risk.
United Methodist Church supports genetic research to meet fundamental
food supply and other needs, but the church is against human cloning and
genetic therapies that produce waste embryos. Bush is against federally
funded embryonic stem-cell research and human cloning, while Kerry
supports federally funded stem-cell research and cloning for therapeutic
The denomination opposes the death penalty. Bush supports it, while Kerry opposes it.
addition to the Board of Church and Society’s comparison guide, the
United Methodist Church is offering a prayer resource for the weeks
leading up to the election. The United Methodist Board of Discipleship
has released A Guide to Prayer for the 2004 National Election,
covering Oct. 10 through Election Day, Nov. 2. The personal prayer guide
is available as a downloadable PDF document at
www.upperroom.org/bookstore. Downloading it costs $2.50. (The prayer
guide will not be available after Jan. 1, 2005.)
National Council of Churches is also offering a session for group or
individual study at www.ncccusa.org/electionyearprinciplesguide.html.
*Green is a freelance journalist based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5473 or email@example.com.