Monday, December 20, 2010

A Response to Judson Phillips Founder of the Tea Party Nation

A blog post by Judson Phillips, founder of the Tea Party Nation and Nashville DUI attorney, is stirring some controversy amongst United Methodists. Assumedly, Mr. Phillips walked by the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society building in Washington DC and saw a sign that read "Pass the DREAM Act." The DREAM Act would give the children of illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship through college or military service and is opposed by conservatives. Mr. Phillips's response was "I have a DREAM. That is, no more United Methodist Church." He goes on to say that the UMC is the "church of Karl Marx," which is funny because Marx was an avowed atheist, and that the Methodist church is "little more than the 'religious' arm of socialism." It seems whenever a conservatives sees something they don't like it is automatically socialist. He also decries the UMC because Hillary Clinton is a member in good standing. Mr. Phillips obviously forgot that George W and Laura Bush as well as Dick Cheney are good members in standing of the UMC.

I am not going engage Mr.Phillips on his ignorance of the United Methodist Church or his blatant over-generalization of all the members of the UMC as people who hate American. As an aside, I dare you sir to step into my church on Sunday morning and tell our veterans they hate America. Nor will I debate Mr. Phillips's stance on the DREAM Act or any other legislation. I will only ask Mr. Phillips why HE hates America and democracy? I only make that assumption because Mr. Phillips seems to dislike the way a democratic government works, that is debating and discussing the issues of the day instead of condemning an entire denomination because of one sign outside one building. Also, he obviously does not care for the First Amendment that guarantees freedom of religion and expression. I think Mr. Phillips would much prefer a theocratic dictatorship where only his views on government and God are allowed. His vast over-generalization of the UMC as a whole would be laughable if it were not so sad and pathetic. Mr. Phillips wants to hate 8 million Americans who belong to a denomination because of one sign outside one building in that denomination.

Mr. Phillips is exactly what is wrong with America, not because he is a Conservative or a TEA Party member, but because his first reaction to a sign with a differing opinion than is own is condemnation and hatred. He does not want to enter into a discussion or debate. In his blog, he does not even attempt to explain why he is right. He just condemns those who disagree with his extreme point of view. This sort of attitude is not limited to conservatives or Tea Partiers, but has become more prevalent in political and theological debate and discussion with both conservatives and liberals. We can all learn a lesson from Mr. Phillips. His reaction will not cause people to leave the United Methodist Church, but it will damage his own credibility, what little they had to begin with, as a political figure and the credibility of his group.

The United Methodist Church in the United States is a cross-section of America. We have liberals and conservatives and we disagree on a lot of things and there are many within the denomination who disagree with the stances taken by the General Board of Church and Society. However, we also feed the hungry, clothe the naked, provide nets that stop the spread of malaria, we dig clean water wells in Africa, we educate children, we save lives, and we proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. For Judson Phillips to condemn the United Methodist Church wholesale for one sign on one building is not only unChristian, but unAmerican.

But I will pray for you Mr. Phillips. I will pray that the love and grace of God, who I and the UMC serve, will touch your heart and that you see the error of your ways not because I disagree with you, but because you persecute me because of that disagreement.

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