Membership of President (81380-JA-NonDis)
America was born in and of empire. Our history has been a long struggle to keep our democratic ideals alive and our democratic institutions strong while pursuing “the course of empire” (Bernard DeVoto). At the beginning of the 21st century the balance has tipped toward empire to such a degree that the future of American democracy is in peril.
The church universal stands in the tradition of the Hebrew prophets and of the Christian martyrs who risked their lives to oppose the unjust actions and the false theological claims of empire. The “church” is the earthly body of Christ who, in Jesus of Nazareth, lived and ministered under empire’s occupation, was tortured by and died at the hands of empire, and rose, a sign that life, peace, justice and love cannot be destroyed – even by the power of empire.
President George W. Bush has taught the church, if we had forgotten, that false doctrine matters – that idolatry, blasphemy and heresy have real and disastrous consequences, not just for individuals or for the church, but for our civic life and for the welfare of the peoples of the world. President Bush is not an anomaly, but the president our history has prepared for us. What has been taken to a new level, and which calls for the response of the church, are his theological claims for empire and his theological justifications for the actions of empire in war and in occupation. Because President Bush is a member of the United Methodist Church, in faithfulness to its Lord, the United Methodist Church is called to an explicit rejection of those claims and justifications.
Whereas idolatry is prohibited by the First Commandment (You shall have no other gods before me), and by the first Article of Religion of the Methodist Church (There is but one living and true God), yet President George W. Bush has made the idolatrous claim that the United States is God’s instrument in the world; and
Whereas the Church Universal, from the New Testament witness to the current witness of the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church, has long struggled against the heresy of Manichaeanism, yet President George W. Bush has claimed the mantle of goodness for our nation and labeled other nations as evil, and has identified individuals as evil without recognition that good and evil runs through every human heart; and
Whereas taking the name of God in vain is blasphemous (the Third Commandment), yet President George W. Bush has said that this war is God’s will and that he was instructed in answer to prayer to initiate it; and
Whereas President George W. Bush, for more than four years, refused the counsel of the Council of Bishops and has ignored the calls of the Council of Bishops and of Annual Conferences for a cessation of the current war in Iraq;
Therefore, be it resolved that the General Conference of the United Methodist Church expresses dismay and chagrin that these statements have been made in God’s name, under Christ’s banner, and with the apparent ecclesiastical cover of the United Methodist Church.
Be it further resolved that the General Conference calls upon President George W. Bush to publicly repent, and to accept a program of restoration and reconciliation involving a year of counseling and prayer with a team of United Methodists - including a member of the Council of Bishops, an ordained elder, and a pastoral counselor. Failing that, we call upon President Bush to resign his membership in the Park Hill UMC in Dallas, Texas.
Be it further resolved that the Secretary of the General Conference send a copy of this resolution to the office of the President of the United States so President Bush can give it due and prayerful consideration.
Be it also resolved that the delegates to the General Conference and members of the United Methodist Church hold President Bush up in prayer as he discharges the duties of his office in difficult and tumultuous times.