Ad asks president to repent of foreign,
News media contact: Joretta Purdueˇ(202) 546-8722 Washington
one-page advertisement in The Christian Century magazine, signed
by more than 100 United Methodists, has called on U.S. President George
Bush to "repent" of certain domestic and foreign policies, including the
use of violence in dealing with Iraq.
The ad, titled, "A Prophetic Epistle from United Methodists Calling Our
Brother George W. Bush to Repent," appeared in the magazine's April 5
The message was written and signed before U.S.-led forces began military
action against Iraq on March 19, explained the Rev. Jennifer Kimball Casto,
a signer and pastor of New Life United Methodist Church in Columbus, Ohio.
was our hope that it would be a prophetic word to our nation's leaders
to consider other options - other than going to war," she said. "Unfortunately,
it came out after we had already engaged in war in Iraq."
Casto said she believed the ad's signers share the belief from Scripture
that "we don't overcome evil with more evil, but we overcome evil with
The Rev. Eric A. Stone, the chaplain-director of the Wesley Foundation
at Central Michigan University, wrote the document as a petition to his
annual conference. Someone suggested that he make it an ad, "and I felt
that a distinctly United Methodist voice (among the other ads and online
petitions) would be appropriate in challenging one of our own" members.
President Bush is a United Methodist.
we do not excommunicate people in our denomination, I ruminated on possible
ways I might respond to someone who I feel should be held accountable,"
He felt that the best step "would be to call brother George to repent,"
he explained. His friend, the Rev. Thomas E. Sagendorf, circulated the
document and asked the signers to help pay the cost of running the ad.
Sagendorf told United Methodist News Service that he began circulating
the document in the last week of February, and the ad cost $1,565.
Using the language of religion, the document called Bush "to repent from
domestic and foreign policies that are incompatible with the teaching
and example of Christ."
is our judgment that some policies advanced by your administration give
evidence of the spiritual forces of wickedness that exist in our world
today," the ad stated. It called the notion of "pre-emptive violence"
incompatible with Christ and his teaching.
is not the way of Christ, and yet you threaten the very earth and all
its inhabitants with open discussion of the use of nuclear weapons," the
ad stated. "As Christians we are convinced that weapons of mass destruction
are not justifiable for any leader or nation."
The ad also challenged the president's domestic policy and urged a Christ-like
focus on "justice for the poor and oppressed, not (on) making the rich
wanted this call to repentance to reflect the prophetic role of our heritage,"
Stone recalled. "... The one who is ultimately responsible must be called
to turn away - to turn away from the myth of redemptive violence, to turn
away from war without end, to turn away from the idolatry of placing trust
in weapons of mass destruction (and) to turn away from policies that increase
the wealth of the wealthiest while ignoring the needs of the poor and
The Rev. Scot H. Ocke, senior pastor at Marysville (Ohio) First United
Methodist Church and a member of the board of the Evangelical Fellowship
of West Ohio, disagreed with the ad's message. "The United Methodist Church
has had a longstanding opposition to slavery, injustice and terrorism.
The church has also declared its support for those in the armed forces.
Bush's decision on Iraq has not been quick tempered, but a firm and measured
response to free the innocent people of Iraq from a brutal regime, economic
poverty and to protect neighboring nations from a historically legitimate
threat of weapons of mass destruction," Ocke said.
signing and release of the mentioned document does not support the armed
forces called there, or their families, and brings no viable solutions
or hope to the injustices there that have long been ignored by our church
under the disguise of peace and justice," he said. More than half the
people who signed the ad, which was clearly labeled "paid advertisement"
in the magazine, were clergy. The seven bishops were Melvin H. Wheatley
Jr., Judith Craig, Melvin G. Talbert, Joseph H. Yeakel, James S. Thomas,
Jesse R. DeWitt and C. Joseph Sprague.
Copyright © 2003 by the author
All Rights Reserved
| Our Mission | What
We Believe | FAQ | Issues
| Prayer Requests | TeleSeminars | Daily Devotions | Religion Dispatch Blog | Audio Whosoever | Whosoever Podcast | Resources
| Letters To The Editor | Reverent
Responses | Seeds of Hope | Reader
Survey | Bookstore
| Contact Us