The United Methodist Church And My Loss Of Faith In Its Mission

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

It comes with much personal reflection that after the United Methodist Church’s Annual Conference for the Pacific Northwest Conference area, encompassing where I live in Washington State, I decided to leave the church after seeing what I believe to be the church leadership moving away from spirituality and Christian teachings to a place where members of the hierarchy in our conference use the Church as a platform to pontificate a particular flavor of politics, aligning itself with an American political party, promoting organizations that provide legal advice to those who evade the law, and worst of all having members that promote an organization that advocates the killing of law enforcement officers. This is a sad outcome, but it represents an evolution of thinking becoming endemic to particular districts. I do not believe that most of the districts approve generally of these changes but unfortunately for me they encompass the area I reside. The best choice for me was to end my relationship.

I joined with the faith when I was twelve years old, being introduced to the United Methodist Church by two close friends. My parents were married at the same church my wife and I were thirty-seven years later.

Now the Church I attended as a teenager or a young adult in the area I reside is not as it was before. For this I will no longer attend. After attending an annual conference meeting, I penned a letter to my church’s laity and pastor which describes my observations and sums the decision I had to leave.

I faced three choices. Either accept the changes and go about as before, constantly at odds with myself as to why I must endure what I cannot accept; contest the actions of the church administration at a time in my life when I have grown weary of continually having to fight such battles; or attending to my own conscience and pursuing the faith of my choosing. For me the last choice is the best choice.

Here is the letter:

I attended the conference held in Portland as a lay member in representation of our church. Last year, I attended the conference in Puyallup.

One of the first differences between the two years is that both Washington and the Oregon-Idaho conference attended and were represented equally. I will defer to Pastor Sandy to elaborate on more of the particulars and structure. What I present now represents my overall impression of the event and some of my observations—which are my own.

For a brief background of the previous year’s event I participated in several work forums held between members of the laity discussing a wide range of topics pertinent to our annual conference. The participation among the audience showed how our church involves its members in a consensus minded, laity centered conference where members provided a foundation for our church and set policy accordingly. It moreover provided us to witness worthy causes such as disaster relief, bible education, spreading the world of Jesus, and helping vulnerable people to find comfort and meaning in their lives. Of course there were administrative matters requiring the vote of the membership.

In last year’s event for me and undoubtedly many others, there existed to my belief only one outstanding topic related to the church offering a more inclusive approach to clergy having alternative family arrangements that is in conflict with the book of discipline. We had a healthy debate in that fashion, which was good to voice these matters. In the end, the conference voted to not allocate funds toward prosecuting individuals based on these alternative lifestyles. For me this was a middle ground for this decade’s long controversy.

That aside, I came from last year’s event invigorated and very pleased with the experience. So when I had the opportunity for this year I had many hopes that I could further experience the renewal of faith in our church and reflect on the conference for direction on how we can grow our church accordingly and to the teachings of Jesus.

Unfortunately that was not the case this year.

Having attended our annual meeting in Portland, I came from the experience dissuaded and profoundly concerned at the misdirection the leadership and many influential members are steering the Pacific Northwest Conference.

From the start of the event my concerns came into play. One of the first acts of the leadership was to bring forth a group of probably a dozen or more individuals who were assigned roles to act in a manner of safety monitors for the conference. Not that these were individuals solely tasked with providing safety of the conference, such as medical professionals or maintenance of fire watch or similar duties but rather these were a light form of security officials who could be summoned whenever there was a disagreement between individuals. They were brought before the audience and introduced. The speaker declared that this group avails itself to involve itself whenever there is a situation where two or more people discussing a matter which “makes them feel uncomfortable”. The speaker further elaborated that the meeting would not be a place that is “unsafe for people” and there was an implied warning that vigorous dissent could warrant the imposition of the safety officers into the discussion.

Why was this of such concern to me? Because I have seen over the past five years in my writing and study of social censorship shows great numbers of examples where one particular party suppresses contrary views under the rubric of “safety” or “safe zones”, both of which were expressed by the speaker in a manner that is consistent with the types of censorship of speech when groups such as safety committees find certain speech objectionable.

Had this safety announcement been the limit of what I experienced, I propose it might have been benign. Coupled with other problems over several days it proved to be a prelude of more to come.

At these events, one can find booths featuring a great number of programs, crafts, books and displays introducing to participants some of the efforts our church brings to the many, with at least one goal being to provide members with additional resources and ways to participate. Yet, I discovered in hearing from others that several of the displays were not featured due to “lack of room” and were cancelled. Suspiciously, some of the displays were prominent and being placed next to the auditorium, while others were in the lower level where some of the classes were held.

Of those that received the preferential display site next to the main auditorium most carried political undertones.

I recall one booth showing a legal defense fund and advocacy group formed within the church administration addressed toward law breaking individuals in our society. This was not a jail ministry of sorts but almost went as far as being an analog of the ACLU but one centered on criminal defense. There were pamphlets proffered to be handed out to illegal immigrant groups advising them how to evade immigration officials and to not trust certain law enforcement officers. There was a political side of this that encouraged members of the church to lobby to end enforcement of immigration law.

Next to this booth was a display showing a police officer purportedly attacking a person who was down on a sidewalk, claiming that police brutality was involved and the take away from this booth was that law enforcement officers were essentially untrustworthy villains who victimize others. Compounding the message, was the introduction of groups that confront police in disturbing manners, groups that openly call during rallies for the death and murder of police officers. But the promotion of this group was not limited to one booth.

During one of the full membership events in the main auditorium, one of the speakers praised this group as being somehow beneficial to the community and that they were welcome with open arms into one of the churches to participate in volunteer services. It was not just that participants in this organization wanted to receive church services, but they were collectively identified and praised by the speaker collectively identified with this movement.

For me and undeniably many others in attendance I found the promotion of that organization as deeply insulting to those who served in the police profession. I retired from a sheriff’s department as a deputy. No other officer or deputy I have known over the years has done anything to justify being murdered yet the PNW conference leadership actively promotes a group who advocates the killing of persons such as my friends, family members, and coworkers who actually protect the community. I attended over the years probably fifteen officer funerals, the majority of which were officers who were murdered in the line of duty. I also had the unfortunate experience of two of my coworkers dying at work, one when I was a cadet back in 1984 and another in 2010, the latter person I found dead in a field after he suffered a horrific car crash. Yet, again, the UMC church officials promoted an organization having many of its membership who would rejoice in such tragedies.

If that was not enough of a concern, the leadership of the event made much work of introducing secular politics into the church. In my view this is both outside of what should be the scope our discipline and from a financial perspective could jeopardize our church’s tax-exempt status.

During a film presentation to the membership, it was greatly apparent that the conference was made to endorse a particular political view that is held by a faction of one of the main political parties in the U.S. Several politicians, one being a socialist city councilwoman in Seattle, are promoted as having virtues that somehow align with church teachings. The film also showed political movements at the exclusion of other political causes that were in conflict with the official political position presented, and presumably assented to by church leadership. None of these politics, or other politics for that matter, should have a place in our church as they are not the word of God or Christ.

It was readily apparent that the leadership and speakers’ goal was to foster a change in the UMC to align with these political goals. I had to wonder what they were managing, was it a church or a political movement disguising itself as a church. It seemed to me that there is an attempt to use the church as merely a vehicle to promote a particular politic, of course using funds from the membership to accomplish this effort.

To promote financial income of a politician, numerous persons at the conference wore decals and pins advertising a book that was offered by a political candidate for the presidency. Cokesbury, the Christian Bookstore aligned in some fashion with the Church, provided a shelf at the conference for this candidate along with free pins/decals for to be worn by members to help sell these books. Aside from the political endorsement, which walks the line of being in violation of IRS regulations of promoting political candidates, this particular candidate was the person who eagerly assisted the prosecution of elective wars that cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians, a person who during an interview visibly rejoiced and expressed a disturbing glee in how the leader of a particular nation was ultimately assassinated as a direct result of this military expedition. I cannot help but see the irony of this when coupled with our church’s century’s long goal to rid the world of the sufferings brought on by war and needless conflict. But apparently, this former candidate’s professed political position somehow aligns itself with the same political goals fostered by the conference’s leadership.

Toward the end of the semi-week’s schedule, the speakers presented a workshop encouraging members to write letters and make phone calls to politicians to encourage certain policy making.

Moving on from the political concern, the leadership swore in new ministers and others appointed to positions. While I laud each of these persons for their accomplishments and wish them the best, the official reciting to them their oaths of office when dictating that the appointees should Uphold the Book of Discipline, there was very obviously a dismissive attitude toward affirming this element of the oath. In fact, laughter was expressed, as if the book of discipline was to be ignored whenever it suited them or was inconvenient. Coupled with some of the political ideals promoted, led me to believe we were witnessing the cusp of the transformation of our conference into one that chooses to deviate from the will of the church generally.

The political correctness did not end there but the most striking example was some of the disrespect shown at one time toward our Indian members in the Southwest of our region.

My table was situated adjacent to an exit door leading outside. An Indian woman standing at the door lit a smudge pot containing herbs and sweet grasses and waiving the wafts of a light smoke outside. Later, she was introduced to the membership in front of the platform. She recited a tradition they had: a century’s long tradition that they incorporated into their later worship in our church. The practice where the laity would pray to God and the smoke from the smudge pot rose to carry their prayers to the heavens, a beautiful allegory and praise thought I. But apparently this was not permitted.

Sometime before her presentation, someone told her that she would not be permitted to present her prayer with us in the traditional manner. She had to extinguish the smudge pot before the prayer because “someone complained” about how the smoke would affect the health of people in the audience. The conference room was very expansive and provided a high ceiling. The argument was baseless. Somehow Catholics manage with having a censer but we could not pray this way. Once again we subjugate our Indian friends by denying them the right to pray in a manner of their own choosing. And if the insult was not enough, she asked that we refer to her people as not Native Americans but Indians or as their tribe such as the Chehalis, or such. In the end, however, the speaker at the podium somehow could not respect this and called her instead a Native American.

On the notion of church attrition we in the membership learned of more church closings. It seemed this time there were many more than last year. I foresee that if the leadership of this conference continues its political and social engineering goals the number of these churches leaving will increase. I did not see as much affordance to discussion as last year, and I had the impression that the leadership was uninterested in what the laity might have thought about the politics and instead is going to press on with its own agenda.

Several weeks ago, and I apologize for not having the source immediately available to me, I read that most of the church closings are in conferences where the approaches similar or identical to the policies set by the leadership of our area are much higher compared with areas that are not. The UMC is declining in the United States generally but is flourishing in Africa and South Korea, among other nations. The politics in our area are also not in alignment with that of Eastern Washington, most of Idaho, most geographical areas of Western Washington, and most of Oregon except for the Willamette Valley and possibly Salem. If the administration of these conferences keeps to themselves and practices whatever politics they wish they might also be benign. But, if instead it forces the matter onto each of the members in these more conservative areas, that’s going to be off putting to most of the laity of those named locations.

While I believe that our church should be more inclusive as previously aforementioned, my opinions are that the leadership is going too greater lengths to foster a political agenda.

The claim is that we need to fundamentally change the church to be more in political alignment with the Millennial Generation in order to stave off the attrition of the church membership. To some degree this is helpful but in the long term it is a recipe for failure.

The Millennial Generation is the least pious generation seen so far. I don’t believe we will gain more of these cohorts than we will lose by stepping over ourselves to attract them. If instead we ditched the politics and political correctness and focused on our worship and time honored traditions of promoting care and good toward others we actually will appeal more to the Generation Z cohort that is just coming of adult age.

This generation is as evidenced by research to be the most pious generation since the Greatest Generation. It is estimated that 40% of this cohort is open to religion and is interested in exploring membership. They are also not in direct ideological alignment with some of the identity politics and policies that the conference leadership is promoting. If we evangelize and bring to our church this generation we are all but certain to reverse the decade’s long trend of membership attrition plaguing mainline protestant churches. If continue with alienating our more conservative older members and ignore the wants and needs of Generation Z, we might make a strategic mistake that will be greatly damaging.

I hope for the sake of our church generally that the leadership of the PNW changes its approach and policy and not be so willing to be rogue in its approach toward the United Methodist Church General Conference.

In all, for the past thirty or so years, the possibility of a schism occurring in the church between two factions in the church and its damage being debilitating, I have since this conference event reversed my beliefs in part.

If we are to experience minor but vocal leadership factions of the PNW annual conference act with dismissiveness toward church policy, to use the church as a platform to promote a brand of politics, and exclude others who might have a difference of opinion in how the region is governed it might be better to allow this split and release these factions to go their own way. In the long term it might be the better solution.
~+~

From the above letter the objection came down to the fact that I could not attend and provide donations to a church that allows itself to promote an organization or an idea that calls for the murder of those such as myself, family members, and coworkers simply for the uniforms and jobs we performed. It is abhorrent. When I asked our bishop for clarification of this position, she stated that the United Methodist Church has no official position on this organization but does support the ideas for which it stands. Both the bishop and the pastor of my local Church were asked to comment about the fact that a booth, prominently displayed at the front of the conference entrance, or that during an all member meeting one of the presenter advocated this hate group both of them expressed they had no knowledge of these matters and claimed that they did not see and did not hear this.

For the embracement of politics, again I believe the conference’s leadership uses its position to further a political agenda. This is not a matter in my view for the Church which should be a refuge from politics and a place where doing good should be paramount. Unfortunately, to an unacceptable degree this is not the direction the Church is taking in this conference.

It is time to move on.

By Darren Smith

161 thoughts on “The United Methodist Church And My Loss Of Faith In Its Mission”

  1. All organizations need to constantly be reminded of their mission statement. Unfortunately, those in power are too frequently biased donors that stretch the mission statement to meet their own needs rather than the needs of the organization’s mission. I find that particularly disheartening where religious organizations are concerned because for many they act as a refuge and a place for peaceful reflection.

    You chose to leave which is probably the best personal move because alternatives exist and you are there for religious reasons and not to fight. Unfortunately, that leaves the wrong people in charge and as we have seen many religious organizations have enterred the world of politics blurring the lines between church and state.

  2. Methodists should not “unite”. They have no “method”. The best one can say is that they are “ists”.

  3. I used to meet people here in my predominantly Republican area through soccer and school/our son relationships and marvel at the information they typically relayed that originated in their churches. 40,000 workers laid off at Home Depot because of Obamacare. Oracle laying off 10,000 workers because of Obamacare. When I looked into these statements often times the opposite was true or companies were downsizing; as well as adding. Most of what they offered up as signs of the failures of liberals or progressives was total nonsense. The ‘actual’ numbers for unemployment were closer to 45% than 5%. Conveniently they included those incarcerated, in school, retired, dead, etc. The churches are social entities first and spiritual entities second, now that religion no longer directly runs things. Communitas has always been a pivotal reason for religion. People also go where they find those with similar points of view or lack thereof. People who reign at these communities also have points of view and egos. To one degree or another, religion will offer and provide a vehicle for someone(s) to exert influence and indeed power sourced from the ego. This is the nature of mankind. If your church does not provide a place that parallels your perspectives then find another one that does, or start your own. Back in the turbulent 60s and 70s there was a lot of that going on.

    Ultimately, spirituality is a church with one member. When one needs reinforcement from those that think alike or need counseling then you have clubs and therapy. Join the Elks or the Moose Club and get a therapist.

    1. Darren bared his kind soul to us all and your response is sanctimonious dribble. You a a heartless, uncaring, b@stard.

    2. Issacbasonkavich, I disagree. A church serves more than just a community or social purpose and all the churches that I have attended in the past have not been partisan and don’t promote one political viewpoint over another. I have observ d a similar trend in churches of late and I don’t agree with it. The function of a church is to bring people together in worship, not promote one political agenda. If you have not ever experienced the benefit of church life fine, but don’t suppose that you’re experience goes for everyone. Separation of church and state should go both ways.

      1. Kathy

        My experiences with religion range from participation in my youth, debate, questioning, research scholastic as well as random, and above all a private yearning for enlightenment. I do get involved in various church communities as a guest of family and/or friends. For the most part, I am envious of that life of which I am missing. It is what it is. Darren’s complaint should stand as an argument for his personal, shared with many others, perspective. Most of what he finds fault with is that with which he doesn’t agree, in that if he did agree with it, it wouldn’t be a problem. Most ‘big box’ churches that I have experienced are rabidly Republican and anything but progressive in any way. It seems that the religious force in America is slanted toward the regressive. Perhaps Darren’s church is a natural response to the cathedrals lorded over by those in mega mansions and bouffant hair. One thing I have never found a lack of is opportunities to help others, regardless of the foundation of the place.

        These are divisive times, not unlike the Vietnam, Black liberation, and other liberations era of a generation or two ago. The excesses performed by those responding to the evils they saw were nothing compared to the evils they saw. The complaints of which Darren writes seem to be more personal than of a community. It would seem to me that his church might be the best place to stay, take a stand, and temper this reaction. From his illustrations it appears that what sticks in his spiritual craw are more or less minor trends that seem to have been threaded throughout the society as a whole. I seriously doubt that anyone is calling for the slaughter of police officers. They may simply be appalled at the actions of some and are reacting. Typically in life, these reactions come with a long pause following where they are scrutinized and adjusted; if those that scrutinize stick around. What to call someone is nothing new. Maybe he should call a spade a spade. Or, he could seek out others who are of his sort, think like him, and create the environment that he remembers so fondly.

  4. Kim Jong-un of North Korea won’t fall into the church shepherd-sheep trap. Kim declares himself as a miracle angel of divine leader. A man-god. Something like Japan’s Emperor Hirohito.

    Even Satan the devil said in Isaiah 14:13-14:

    13 And thou saidst in thy heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; and I will sit upon the mount of congregation, in the uttermost parts of the north;
    14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.

    Here’s Kim’s real official facebook site. Kim will actually respond to comments:

    https://www.facebook.com/OfficialKJU/

  5. I feel bad, Darren, that the UMC has gone in the direction it has, putting earthly politics ahead of scripture. But it doesn’t surprise me; the leaders of the Episcopal Church have created a similar rift to the point that the church is most likely going to be split in two, with the more traditional members aligning with the original Anglican world-wide church and the American Episcopal Church remaining a leftist political activist group. I left the Episcoplal Church due to its radical leftist views, and joined the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. A co-worker, who is a native of the Ukraine, told me that a surprising number of Americans are joining the Eastern Orthodox Church due to the politicization of mainstream American congregations. I’m not familiar with the theology of the Eastern Church. I know that they are generally organized around national identity and language (Russian, Greek, Serbian, Finnish, etc.) but in larger communities such as Washington D.C., services are in English and people of all ethnic and national backgrounds attend. Best wishes, Darren, in finding a bible-based Church where you can grow in your spirituality.

  6. While violence against anyone – including police officers – is never justified, Jesus embraced the outcasts, leppers and even prostitutes.

    Some of the greatest villains in the Bible weren’t immigrants, outcasts, leppers or prostitutes but those in positions of government authority.

    Good police officers are sometimes in a no-win situation. Although they take a supreme loyalty oath to follow the U.S. Constitution – which includes following the Bill of Rights – many police chiefs, mayors and police unions give illegal orders to their officers that violate their supreme loyalty oath. There is no legally binding oath to “protect & serve”, that us their mission within constitutional boundaries.

    It is curious why mayors, governors and legislatures don’t invest taxpayer dollars in rebuilding high crime neighborhoods and have more officers walking (not driving) the beat instead of supplying them with taxpayer owned tanks and grenade launchers. This burden unfairly falls on the rank & file police officers taking orders from those above.

    The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department, led by Vanita Gupta, did an excellent report on this cause & effect in places like Ferguson, Missouri. Trump fired Gupta.

    1. You said, “It is curious why mayors, governors and legislatures don’t invest taxpayer dollars in rebuilding high crime neighborhoods and have more officers walking (not driving) the beat instead of supplying them with taxpayer owned tanks and grenade launchers.”

      What does “rebuild” even mean??? Are you going to take a run-down house, and put siding on it, and repaint the walls, and pick up all the trash in the yard? If so, how does that change the person inside the house? Does the occupant then magically quit using drugs, or selling drugs, or shoplifting and prostituting themselves to make ends meet? Does it magically somehow create a newfound desire to take birth control pills? Does painting the house and “rebuilding” it overcome 10-12 years of schooling that the occupant half-a$$ed participated in, to the point where they are functionally illiterate? Does “rebuilding” somehow help the 4 little illegitimate kids in the house get a better mother, or more money in the bank, or does it make the lazy a$$ excuse for a mother get up early enough to fix her kids a breakfast? Or does it give her the sudden quantum of education that she needs to help them with their homework, assuming she even gives a rat’s a$$ about their schoolwork? Does some new lighting fixtures change the attitude of the person in the house, or are you simply left with a bunch of expenditures and what will turn into a wreck of house again within 15 years, maybe sooner?

      Have you ever really thought out what it is that you think you believe vis a vis reality and practicality? I mean “rebuilding the neighborhood” sounds like a really nice thing, but I am not sure at all what it is that you expect it to accomplish, or the means by which your goals are met.

      Squeeky Fromm
      Girl Reporter

      1. What does “rebuild” even mean???

        See what’s been done in New York City since 1990 and use that as a point of departure. Here’s the program.

        1. A police force of generous size. New York City’s police forces have a total census of 60,000. Baltimore would benefit from about 12,000.

        2. Satisfactory training, optimal deployment, and use of best practices. Chicago has a force that’s generously staffed, but they are not optimally deployed and the homicide rate in Chicago was at it’s best 3x that of New York City’s (though better than Chicago’s rate in 1990). The very worst neighborhoods in NYC have in recent years had homicide rates which are average in Rochester and Buffalo (and half the mean homicide rate in Baltimore).

        3. Restructuring of the school system.

        a. Schooling should be in the hands of philanthropic agencies and individual households, by and large. The local sheriff’s department and the state prison system could operate detention centers with some remedial education for incorrigibles no one else will take.

        b. Educational finance should be as follows: county governments allocate a pool of funds for voucher redemptions. About 85% of the pool is allocated to general vouchers issued to any custodial parent in the county and 15% to supplementary vouchers issued to parents’ whose children might benefit from intensive instruction (e.g. the preternaturally unintelligent, youths requiring intensive language immersion, autistic youngsters). The size of the appropriation divided by the number of vouchers issued is the redemption value of the voucher.

        c. Parents register their children for school at the municipal clerk’s office.

        i. Those wishing to homeschool or enroll their child in a tuition-funded school can cash out their voucher for a sum about equal to a % of their documented direct tax payments divided by the number of vouchers issued him (but not exceeding the redemption value); a parent so doing would receive a mean of about 1/3 of the redemption value (the point being to return to the parent roughly what he contributed to financing the voucher).

        ii. Those satisfied with a voucher funded school turn in their vouchers to the school. The school then redeems the received vouchers at face value with the county government.

        iii. Those relegated to the sheriff or the state prisons turn in their voucher to these agencies. The agencies turn in the vouchers to the county government in return for a capitation that pays for teachers and educational materials.

        d. Schools subsist within a regulatory architecture which has many facets. That having been said, schools and homeschooling parents shall have plenary discretion over disciplinary matters (within the limits of the penal code and contractual obligations), plenary discretion over admissions and expulsions (subject to penal code provision which prohibits voucher-funded schools from conditioning either on donations on pain of criminal penalties on the corporation and its officials alike), plenary discretion over its instructional program, and plenary discretion over hiring and firing.

        e. However, truancy laws shall require students to attend regents’ examinations once or twice a year. There will be a basic education series with 5 or 6 paces, a set of secondary academic series with two paces, and a set of secondary vocational examinations with one pace. Every incorporated school and homeschooling parent has a discrete franchise delineated by the examination series for which their enrolled students are registered. The board of regents shall produce league tables of incorporated schools, rank ordering them regarding each series they prepare for according to the rapidity of their students’ progress controlling for the psychometric profile of the school.

        f. Schools which score in the bottom 1.5% of a given series shall lose that particular franchise consequent to a petition of the state attorney-general. A school which has lost all it’s franchises shall be dissolved by the probate court and its assets distributed to successor schools named in its original charter. Homeschooling parents whose youngsters manifest slow progress in their examinations will lose their franchise and be compelled to register their youth in an incorporated school.

        4. Restructuring local government:

        a. Decennially survey the state, adjusting boundaries

        b. Discrete dense settlements of 50,000 or more will be deemed ‘cities’. Cities shall be subdivided into boroughs with conventional boundaries; any borough would have to be contiguous and have a baseline population (say, 2,400). Subdivision of any borough would require a city–wide referendum and concurrent majorities in the city as a whole and at least one of the proposed successor boroughs.

        c. Discrete dense settlements of 2,400 or more shall be deemed ‘towns’ and each shall have its own government. Discrete dense settlements of more than 200 persons and containing retail trade shall be deemed ‘service villages’. That landscape outside the towns shall be sorted into rural municipalities organized round the service villages. Towns and rural municipalities shall be assembled into counties.

        d. Leave local government functions by default in the hands of municipalities, but allocate a baseline to cities and counties which can be supplemented according to enabling legislation enacted by assemblies of municipal counselors proceeding by weighted voting. The baseline for cities and counties should include the police department, the child protective apparat, and the school fund.

        5. Restructure local revenue systems:

        a. Discontinue dedicated state funding to local government. Instead, make use of unrestricted revenue sharing. The state legislature appropriates a sum and checks are cut to city and county governments making use of a formula which has population and per capita income as arguments, with the most affluent counties / cities on their own. County and city governments would have a franchise to do likewise with their own municipalities. The global amount distributed would be at the discretion of the conciliar body in question, but the formula would be embedded in the state constitution.

        b. Have fines and Pigou levies sluiced to a fund which is emptied at the end of the year by per capita or per household distributions to direct-tax payers. Do not use these measures as revenue generators.

        c. Finance services analogous to those you’d buy on the market by tolls and fares. That maintains the water authority, municipal gas and electric, the municipal parking authority, etc. Finance registries and tribunals through filing fees set at a level to meet their administrative costs. Finance other public functions through taxation.

        d. Grant to counties and municipalities a qualified franchise to lay and collect property taxes. The assessments would be undertaken by a professional assessorate incorporated within city and county governments and follow principles delineated in state law. All property owners would be liable except the federal government. General services authorities in all governments would maintain budget lines for the payment of property taxes to local governments. Philanthropic agencies would owe property taxes to local governments, but would be due 100% re-imbursement from the state treasury.

        e. Grant to cities and counties a franchise to collect general sales taxes. These would be flat, no-exceptions levies on all final sales.

        f. Making use of census data, rank order all bloc groups in every city according to per capita or per household income. Identify the set who are the most impecunious among them and encompass 15% of the cities population. Identify also the set who are the most impecunious outside this first set and encompass 5% of the population. The first set is Zone A, the second Zone B, and the rest of the city (80% of the total) Zone C. All properties in every zone are assessed at least once every 6 years. The Zones are re-drawn decennially and their residents allowed a two year notice before the legal implications of the new delineation kick in. Property taxes will be assessed at a rate of X% in Zone C, at a rate of 0.5X% in Zone B, and at a rate of 0% in Zone A.

        g. Allow municipalities who lose revenue from property tax abatements to assess an income tax. The tax would be a flat no-exceptions levy with a rate cap. The rate cap would be calculated according to ratio of the sum of assessed value in Zone A and one-half the assessed value in Zone B to total assessed value.

        6. Amend building codes and local housing policy.

        a. Public housing should simply not be constructed. Any extant public housing should be auctioned off to developers.

        b. Rent controls should never be enacted. Any extant rent controls should be subject to phased abolition as follows:

        i. Permissible rent increases shall be equal to the annual change in nominal income per capita in the metropolis.

        ii. Units in buildings constructed after a certain date shall be exempted entirely.

        iii. Right of succession to leases shall be limited to spouses and disabled children under your guardianship.

        iv. A tenant’s rent control rights shall be made salable at the tenant’s discretion, with purchase rights limited to landlords.

        v. Eviction procedures shall be fairly streamlined.

        vi. The state and localities shall set priorities with building codes in Zones B and C. Addressing fire hazards, rodent infestations, dysfunctional plumbing, boarded up windows, and graffiti shall be the order of the day. See Mark Hinshaw’s True Urbanism for guidance.

        vii. Municipal governments shall send supplementary trash patrols into slum neighborhoods. One activity these patrols will engage in is sandblasting the graffiti off the sides of buildings, with the bill sent to property owners.

    2. Old “Crazy Abe” Lincoln had a solution you may consider:

      “If all earthly power were given me,” said Lincoln in a speech delivered in Peoria, Illinois, on October 16, 1854, “I should not know what to do, as to the existing institution [of slavery]. My first impulse would be to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia, to their own native land.” After acknowledging that this plan’s “sudden execution is impossible,” he asked whether freed blacks should be made “politically and socially our equals?” “My own feelings will not admit of this,” he said, “and [even] if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of white people will not … We can not, then, make them equals.”5

      Duhhh!

      Who’d a thunk it?

  7. A lot of religions start out with good intentions, then people get a hold of them and twist and contort them for their own wants and desires.

  8. Squeeky, many scientists are atheistis, and one thing that isn’t hard to do is get them to change their mind when evidence contradicts their hypothesis. You may be thinking of Upton Sinclair’s famous quote regarding money, but I submit that is true of believers and non-believers alike.

    1. Well, the thing about Religions, like Christianity for example, is that any conclusive evidence is only provided when a person either wakes up dead, and finds themself in a a different place; or if the religious belief is incorrect, then they don’t wake up at all, and are therefore incapable of knowing that they had believed untrue things during their life.

      Sooo, that leaves scientists unable to prove one way or the other whether there is an afterlife, and atheism fills in that empty spot with, “Since I can’t find any evidence of it, I won’t believe it.” Which I think for many atheists is simply a way not to have to contend with those messy doubts about a thing for which there is no physical evidence.

      Myself, I think that humans tend to sense that there something beyond the physical existence that is going on, and we can’t quite put our fingers on it, but we sense that there is something out there, something that we can’t see or touch, but something that put all this creation into existence for some totally unknown reason. Or maybe what the physicists call spooky action at a distance.

      Squeeky Fromm
      Girl Reporter

      1. Squeeks:

        Well, the thing about Religions, like Christianity for example, is that any conclusive evidence is only provided when a person either wakes up dead, and finds themself in a a different place; or if the religious belief is incorrect, then they don’t wake up at all, and are therefore incapable of knowing that they had believed untrue things during their life.

        Sooo, that leaves scientists unable to prove one way or the other whether there is an afterlife, and atheism fills in that empty spot with, “Since I can’t find any evidence of it, I won’t believe it.”

        Louise–No one but the person(s) making the claim that there is an afterlife is required to “prove it one way or another”. Neither scientists nor non scientists are required to prove anyone’s claim is false. The person making the claim is the only one required to provide evidence supporting the claim and they can’t. But you will apparentky be,ieve claims for no reason but your “intuition”. Good luck with that.

        Squeeks: Which I think for many atheists is simply a way not to have to contend with those messy doubts about a thing for which there is no physical evidence.

        Louise–what do you use to decide what is logicslly valid claim? Are you using your “intuition” ? That’s a pretty dicey thing to use. If that’s what you use, I have a nice bridge I can sell you.

        Squeeks:–Myself, I think that humans tend to sense that there something beyond the physical existence that is going on, and we can’t quite put our fingers on it, but we sense that there is something out there, something that we can’t see or touch, but something that put all this creation into existence for some totally unknown reason. Or maybe what the physicists call spooky action at a distance.

        Louise–You’re entitled to your intuition. Not everyone has the same faith in their own ideas, including scientists, who know how humans can fool themselves into believing anything. People relied on intiition when they declared that the sun revolves around the earth.

    2. Overall, I agree, Cape Cod. I would add one caveat to ” one thing that isn’t hard to do is get them to change their mind when evidence contradicts their hypothesis”–so long as the scientist does not have an agenda.

      The fat/cholesterol cause heart disease hypothesis is a good example. Influential people refused to consider compelling evidence that contradicted their hypothesis.

      1. Prairie Rose, I am in complete agreement. Research has been so commodified, that if you don’t have something to sell at the end of it all, funding sources dry up. WRT cholesterol, statin makers have control of the FDA and the medical community. I have been trying to get my dad off of statins for years because he is at low risk for heart disease and has never had an event; he is now starting to listen to me. Climate science is the same, no crisis, no $.

  9. I, too, had similar experiences in my former parish. In particular, there was one deacon whose homilies hijacked Church teachings for what appeared to me to be political ends. The sermons were especially invidious because the deacon was a religion professor at a Catholic university. With the Presidential election approaching, I knew things would only get worse. The option of switching parishes was available, so I elected to do so. It has been quite satisfactory. I was able to maintain my adherence to Church teachings and values and yet make a protest, albeit a minor one, to the encroaching use of religion to obtain votes.

  10. Darren:
    A very cathartic article. Bravo. I see you’ve discovered that if you rely on any religion for spirituality, you’re bound to be disappointed. Like every man-made institution, it’s inherently susceptible to corruption. I prefer the religion of Thomas Paine. “My own mind is my own church,” he is reported to have said. After all, our ability to reason abstractly is our only true connection with the divine. Sometimes the truth is a gentle breeze on your cheek; sometimes it’s a slap across your face. Sorry you got the latter this time.

  11. Very apropos quotes that ring echoes to me. (I apologize for length)

    “…the speakers presented a workshop encouraging members to write letters and make phone calls to politicians to encourage certain policy making.”

    Last year a secretary of the national conference had done a similar thing, though her own political opinions were presented as that of the church. (no one demurred) In fact, Nancy Pelosi gave her opinion mention as the UMC position. But the secretary also told fellow members to call their reps. So she used her position as platform for political purposes.(to lobby members of Congress) I was offended. Too bad.

    A letter circulated and was signed by higher clergy of UMC to protest Israel. They also called on Congress to audit the aid to Israel in favor of more aid to Palestine. The UMC also collaborates with the BDS movement. (with et al mainline denominations.)

    Other quote:
    “…I had the impression that the leadership was uninterested in what the laity might have thought about the politics and instead is going to press on with its own agenda.”

    Basically this is the case. With aforementioned issues they do speak for the church but I know don’t necessarily represent the views of common members. Yet when asked, they shrug or ignore concerns.

    Letters and suggestions come from leaders (Bishops or others) to convince local churches to become sanctuary churches that they will gladly help them expense it. This includes building safe rooms and accommodations, and they compare it to the Underground Railroad. They also encourage members to build safe rooms or apartments into their homes. And they encourage participation in BLM marches etc, calling it righteous civil rights activism. They encourage civil disobedience as the way to help causes. Indeed, the focus is more on this political activism than it is in the church’s mission, the ‘great commission.’ Everything and activity is seen only through the prism of politics.

    Why do I know? A rev told me several years ago that there was no way he could be compliant with the book of discipline. (a man from Iowa) Yet he soldiered on in different churches, telling the Bishops of his conflicts.. Ignored and dismissed? (don’t start me on reading material promoted by many Bishops)

    To what do I personally attribute much of this Leftist (lets face it) politicization? I blame the liberation theology movement now in many denominations, even in seminaries. Yes, those vaunted institutions of scholars and wisdom.

    I presume what is going on there is an incubator to what is going on, subtly or not, in other regions. Midwest being an exception. No doubt wanting to duplicate these ‘policies other areas and writers will promote it as an extension of Social Justice. I’d call it a laity – hierarchy gap,(split) seemingly growing. But you know what they will be worried about? Not that.

    1. Thank you for your refreshing reply. I enjoyed reading this and I agree with your assertions.

      One of the problems is the growth of the administrative faction of the PNW conference’s general leadership. There has been for many years much for lack of better words “empire building” by officials where the bureaucracy has grown beyond its utility. I commented last year to my fellow lay members that this is become outside the wishes of what I believe the Wesley’s have envisioned. In fact I doubt very much they would have approved a system where some smaller local churches are being squeezed by increasing demands to fork over debilitating appointments of cash to feed this bureaucratic machine. The local church I was formerly a member was pushed the brink of insolvency due to the tens of thousands of dollars demanded. Ours was a local church that had been in existence since the 1850s, an extraordinarily long time for Washington State. Yet the conference leadership demands “charity” donations to benefit others despite the damage it caused ours.

      You are also correct about the Safety Representatives (or whatever they are called) who the conference leadership encouraged to be established at the local level. For me this was profoundly concerning. There was to be a seminar required of these safety members as to what was expected of them. It was proffered as being the person who would coordinate and facilitate fire safety, disaster preparedness etc. But I know with complete certainty the true intention of these was transition from this notion to one where they would serve as a surrogate for the conference leadership to monitor what occurs in the local churches and to become the safe space and dissent monitoring service. Safe Spaces is too often a euphemism for stifling unacceptable ideas or positions.

      1. You surely have done your due diligence. I wish more would. True, and many Wesleyans would be aghast, as you say. This is also out of touch (most of it) with the national conference. That administrative bureaucracy, yes, seems to dictate a contrary message.

  12. Seventeen years ago, students of the United Methodist Church offered (in First Things) that it’s institutions of government were so structured that the liberal faction would gradually lose influence to the evangelical faction. It appears that hasn’t happened (at least in select conferences). There have been scandals in the denomination for a generation or more (see the 60 Minutes expose broadcast in 1983, which provoked the resignation of the presiding bishop of the body).

    I suspect your real problem is tri-fold, and works about as follows. Seminary faculty consist of people who like to play with language and otherwise have the common-and-garden caste attitude of salaried employees in the non-profit sector. It would not be a problem if they were English professors. As for the clergy, it’s indubitably the policy of the apparat to exclude anyone with an authentic vocation (of whom few apply anyway). The clergy have decayed into a collecting pool of people who want to be den mothers on salary (or, like the protagonist in V.S. Naipaul’s Guerrillas, men who have “no important skills…an organizer of boys clubs”). Doctrinal and moral teachings get in the way. As for the laity, the one’s influential in parish life are the usual joiners and the worst of them are given to the sort of deceitful and manipulative babble you report.

    Robert Stacy McCain offered recently a rough-and-ready diagnosis of the problems from which religious congregations suffer: mediocrity. He suggests the megachurch phenomenon results from the decline in the prevalence of capable preaching: in 1955, you might have had a dozen capable preachers in a small city; now you have one. The mediocrity is causing a generational falling away because the young cannot see the point of it all. It’s dreary singalongs, vague lectures which consist of clerical navel-gazing, minor social services, and general busywork.

    The Catholic Church has been a study in self-immolation since 1962. It’s a reasonable inference that the most destructive generative factor has been the injury done to the liturgy by a raft of stakeholders. (Francis is promising yet more vulgarity). It has been beset with a bad episcopacy in occidental countries for a couple of generation and has been under the boot the last four years of one of the worst popes in centuries.

    The segments of Christendom which seem the least injured as we speak would be the Eastern Churches (Catholic, Orthodox, and non-Chalcedonian), the rigorist oldline protestant bodies (eg the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod and the Presbyterian Church in America), and the Mennonite and Amish bodies. The Mormon Church is not (strictly speaking) Christian, but remains organizationally healthy.

    1. Lastly, you made the astute observation that you can be organizationally healthy but a failing Christ-centered church. Food for thought.

    2. I thank you also for your comments. I had not thought of what you referred to as the mediocrity that leads to the mega-churches attracting members away from the mainline churches, and the promotion of those who tend to want a salary to be den mothers of sorts.

      I knew of one particular lay clergywoman who in my view epitomized traits of what I would consider to encompass a successful minister. Yet, unfortunately, the structure of the Church would make her appointment to that of a full time pastor greatly difficult. Instead all that could be hoped for was forestalled by a glass ceiling. It was very unfortunate because our latest pastor assigned much of the workload onto her shoulders, yet she could only expect to be a subordinate. In a remote or frontier congregation, her full appointment would be almost a formality. She would be a full time pastor based solely on her merits. I truly believe she would be welcomed had this been a 1850’s Wesleyan discipleship.

    3. Mega church phenomenon and capable preaching…….interesting theory.

      I have another one, based on a textbook I read which was developed to teach the Book of Romans at evangelical churches in CA. I think the advent of mega churches corresponds to the increasing narcissism and consumerism of American society. Churchgoers are not persuaded by the teachings of Christ anymore unless there is an inducement. What do I get for all my sacrifice in both money and time? There have to be rewards on Earth, not just the rewards of an afterlife. Hence the success of prosperity Gospel. And everyone wants to belong to the “it” group.

      As an aside, I found in the South that there were many “preachers” with great talent for captivating an audience, but having the equivalent of an associates degree in religious studies from a diploma mill. These men could lead a flock, but where were they going?

      1. You bring up a topic which I took years before as an interest–Prosperity Gospel.

        While it surely has many definitions, one that I found applicable came in watching late at night TV. I happened along a religious broadcasting network. Ordinarily I do not watch this network since some of the minsters on that network are run of the mill charlatans. But one in particular was truly repugnant.

        The show featured a fiery minister cavorting about, declaring that for every good deed you made, you would receive twice as much in payment from God. I had my suspicions obviously that this might be introductory to something truly misconstruing of Gospel. I was correct.

        The camera panned to him standing before a bank of telephone agents in a sort of telethon one could find by watching a PBS station during pledge week. Succinctly, he then began promoting the idea that giving money to his organization (read: his bank account) would in essence give the donor at least twice the money returned to them in the form of success at a later time. The telephones were ringing and he announced how named individuals just contributed $100, $200 and in several instances over a grand.

        A raptor or a vulture? It was difficult to decide exactly what he was. He prayed on the unfortunate who believed his line of nonsense. How many lonely old ladies had he fleeced? Not enough for him it would seem. Nothing in return, not fellowship or charity. Only a phone number to extract more money at a later time under the empty promise of salvation. The only prosperity in his brand of Prosperity Gospel was his own profiteering.

          1. That’s exactly who I’m talking about. He makes my skin crawl. His congregation is blind, addled, or they aspire to be him and his wife. Jim and Tammy Faye in prettier packages.

        1. Darren, thanks for sharing. What a shame to see such a display of greed, and as you say, it is the vulnerable among us who will end up getting preyed upon. One hopes that eventually these people get their just desserts. What they are preaching is so orthogonal to the historic teachings of pastors who focus on lives of service. BTW, sorry for not saying so much earlier, but thank you for sharing your experiences and recent struggles with your church. Although I am not a believer, I know full well
          the benefits of community to those who are, and I wish you the best of luck in your journey to find a place that is consistent with your beliefs and conscience.

      2. Prosperity Gospel is a feature of charismatic and pentacostal bodies, not evangelical bodies generally.

        I see vices among churchgoers, but ‘consumerism’ and ‘narcissism’ are not among them. I see narcissism among homosexuals and a certain type of neuralgic bourgeois (black or female), and really much more in the newspapers than in mundane life.

        1. Well, we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this.
          Clearly, we’re observing different churches and different populations of churchgoers.

  13. In essence your church decided on recruitment and money over spirituality. So sad. Sounds like a lesson from the Bible. I was once introduced to the Methodist Church as a teen and I was overwhelmed by the welcoming attitude of the group, without the heavy-handedness of Catholic teachings (my upbringing). I actually enjoyed going to evening meetings. I cannot believe what I just read. Terrible.

    1. No. The church apparat decided to do what it felt like, which has little relation to the historic mission of the Church or the protestant congregations. It won’t lead to more revenue or more recruitment. Liberal churches implode demographically. Their apparatchiks have a number of lies they tell themselves and others about why that’s happening.

    2. Not all Methodist churches have these troubles. I am in a much more conservative area, apparently, than where Darren lives (and I am in a different state no less). Politics in church is frowned upon. Too needlessly divisive. We stick to serving others and trying to live faithfully.

  14. Thank you, Darren, so much for doing what you did. (from a member) Hard as it is/was. We need to take a stand. Maybe you will help shed a light on this.

    I have the deepest respect for what you did. I only pray that the “itchy ears” might at least hear some of that and take pause. Maybe reevaluate this new direction. Normally, when one person says it a whole lot of others are seeing and thinking that way. In this case I know they do.

    As for me and mine, I am in the same situation and not in NW coast. We are to be an influence in a fallen world not be influenced in lockstep with it. They needed to hear it, but now we shall see what arrogance looks like. That reaction is almost as bad,

  15. Apparently younwere ok with “moving away from spirituality and Christian teachings to a place where members of the hierarchy in our conference use the Church as a platform to pontificate a particular flavor of politics, aligning itself with an American political party, promoting organizations that provide legal advice to those who evade the law, and worst of all having members that promotes and organization that advocates the killing of law enforcement officers” as long as it tracked,with your opinions, but as soon as it went in another direction,you dexided to cut and run. I’m not sure about advocating the killing of law endorcement officers, though. Can you provide a citation for that? It doesn’t sound like any Methodists I know.

    1. Are you attending services on the west coast? If not, I find it unlikely you would have encountered any of this. That entire region has been poisoned. The media would have you believe it’s the entire nation, but it simply isn’t true. Oregon, Washington, and California are a sort of unholy trinity these days (which I say with no religious connotations). I resided in CA myself for years, and hear story after story about the entire coast from trusted friends since my departure. This part of the country really has become a stronghold for liberal fascism.

      1. I have news for you, it is not just the west coast. (east coast is not immune) I could go on but indeed there is a problem. I watched it for decades. And beyond the pale.

      2. James, Louise is a liberal fascist who was brought up in a strict religious home and has severe daddy issues. So any substantive discussion w/ her on virtually any topic is futile.

        1. Wel look at the pot calling the kettle black. I have never seen such a sterling example of outright hypocrisy as you display here every time you post, and in your case I wouldn’t blame it on “daddy issues”. I blame it on truly bad character thatbyou have developed yourself. You’d do well to take a look at yourself instead of engaging in ugly armchair psychology–about which you couldn’t be more wrong. I suggest professional help.

  16. Ouch! Not something to lightly decide, Darren Smith.

    You might consider the Religious Society of Friends, Quakers. There are two branches. One is the Quaker Church with ministers and similar to the Methodists in the old days. The original branch consists of the unprogrammed meetings, where everyone is a minister. Neither branch ever supports violence in any form.

    1. Crazy part is that Chuck Smith started a Christian church movement in the 60′ from CA and west coast. It is thriving even with Chuck gone now.(in hippy days mind you) This is exactly the opposite.

      1. “Herbert Hoover and Nixon were Quakers”

        Wow, what sterling examples! I can see people rushing right out to join two such sterling examples of Quakeri values!

        1. Just giving a little historical fact, crazy lady. I have forgotten more history than you know. The truth and facts seem to worsen your psychosis. I hated Nixon BTW. Giving FACTS does not constitute an endorsement or denouncement. Get some help ASAP. And stop stalking me. It’s creepy.

            1. Here’s where you employ your “I know you are but what am I” like in the many blogs you troll.

            2. Then stop reading them, for crying out loud! I have received plenty of crazy and vapid comments on this blog from you and others. I don’t call them stalking. It’s common on blogs. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!

          1. I was, nor am I not now making “a point.” I am merely giving historical facts, being a former history teacher. And, adding to your prez Methodist list are Grant, Polk, McKinley and W!

  17. Congratulations. Religion like Politics are branches of Philosophy. The major organized secular churches of the USA Republicans and Democrats are much like their religious cousins in many ways.Starting half Church of England and half Baptist I was sent to a variety of churches as young boy but always for political reasons. School teachers back then had to toe some fairly strict lines within the population.

    One could however always find the secular versions but one had to choose carefully of the religions factions. Such was the life of a school teacher but my parents begged off citing the immense of work that had to be done on the weekends to satisfy the school district (partly true) so sent their children in their place and thus we bounced from one version to the other and one of them was Methodist.

    In the end what did I learn a lot of different versions of the same strories but one rang true each time. You were welcome as long as the money hit the collection plate. Didn’t matter if it was a church or a political faction.

    The military was even more hyipocritical. If one doen’t satisfy the current crop of stars you will earn no stripes. to badly coin a phrase. Same collection plate different excuse but much more an open protection racket in the military. Probably still the same.

    In the end I put both non denominational and independent on my dog tags – having learned through the study of philosophy to use one of the branches against the other. In the end I ended up with two belief systems that covered both areas. So don’t violate my First Amendment Rights by asking what religion ….Just asking is a violation of the Constitution I am sworn to uphold and maintain. . And don’t ask my political affiliation as our founders taught us I am an independent thinking, reasoning, rational and above all self governing citizen of our Constitutional Republic.

    Armed with that and the philosophy of objectivism instead of the fantasy of subjectivism I can examine, test, validate or invalidate any of the belief or control systems.

    Thus the freedoms guaranteed by our founders work for me. As for the rest of you.

    You made the right choice and did not choose the greater or lesser of evils but chose not to embrace evil. By the only standard that truly matters. Your own. All the rest is still available but not to everyone. Some need shelter from the fear of the dark never realizing the dark shelters many wonders if one will only think to learn how to see Six senses not five touch taste smell hearing seeing .and the ability to think independently.

    Do any of those you left behind realize that the polticall belief they are supporting at the jeapordy of their moral beliefs is the the system that is tryinig to subjugate and kill off their moral values. We see that today with the bigotry that is so un-American from illiterate posts to the words of Senators.

    Think not? Then you have never really read nor accepted the Constitution. of our Great Constitutional Republic.

    An excellent contribution to our weekend!

  18. I feel your pain Darren. The church should be taking the good news of the Gospel to the world and building up the Believers. Focusing on political correctness and supporting political groups seems to be outside the purview of what Jesus taught.

  19. Congratulations on your courageous move. I know that it is hard to give up on something that you have long been a part of. No church, or denomination is perfect, and there are always things that can irritate you about any church body. But opting for the political shenanigans of Black Lives Matter, when that whole movement was based on the phony, “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” narrative over the forces of law and order is simply an obvious mistake.

    I hope you find a new congregation that is more sensible, and less political.

    Matthew 7:15-20King James Version (KJV)

    15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

    16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

    17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

    18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

    19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

    20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. Darren,

      I grew up Catholic and have no issues with the Church. When I got married, my wife was Methodist and so I went along with her and enjoyed several years of what I felt were “Catholic Lite” services. We too though have left UMC. My main reason was when they seemed to be headed towards endorsing same sex marriage. This is a deal breaker for me and will probably return to the RCC.

      1. Be prepared for the possibility of having to move again, Darren. . Maybe you should consider atheism. Since I became an atheist I haven’t had to move once. Atheism has no doctrine to disagree with. It may be what you’re looking for instead of wandering around looking for a doctrine you are bound to eventually disagree with.
        .

        1. I don’t believe that his message is one of the failure of religion but instead one of the failure of man.

        2. I think the process is more that atheists don’t have to have any questions. which fits in well with the anal-retentive personalities they have. It’s not they necessarily have any answers, but they are protected from having any doubts about things. Because if it is one thing that anal retentive people have, it is a dislike for change and uncertainty. That is one reason it is sooo hard to get them to change their mind about stuff. They are just OCD to the max. Or at least that has been my experience.

          Squeeky Fromm
          Girl Reporter

      2. It will be awhile before such a vote passes since the Methodists in other countries get to vote, too. Same-sex marriage does not fly in Africa, and there is a strong body of Methodists there (I am not sure which countries have the most, though–Zimbabwe??).

    2. Your comment is awaiting BLOCKeration.

      From another devout Atheist.

      1) Of all the false Blind Faiths, i.e. ALL of them.

      2) The post-Reformation/Brexit-1 White Anglo Saxon Protestants/WASPS are, by their 4-centuries of Imperial Fascist foul ‘Fruits’ on five Continents where they don’t belong – History’s worst.

      3) Hypocrites, Moral Cowards, Mass Killers, Parasites, Predators, Psychopaths, Liars, Denyers, Self-Justifyers – bar none.

      4) In the 1600s when WASPS first immorally invaded other’s lands they gave natives the WASP Bible, plus Bullets, Bombs, and BS – always more BS.

      5) Eventually WASPS owned others’ lands, leaving the natives owning WASP Bibles.

      6) E.G. in Vietnam WASPS sent Black men to kill Yellow men so that White Men could keep the land they stole from Red men.

      7) Quote 1600s native Red man, “Blue-eyed Devil speaks with forked tongue!” Plus, “Fighting Terrorists since 1492!”

      Here endeth yesterday’s, today’s, and tomorrow’s lesson, A-men & Wimmin.
      v
      v

      1. G.N.

        WAY too factual fer mass infantilized so called ‘Adult’, Anglo fantasists.

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