Perpetuating the mythology of hateful and racist Tea Party zealots, United Church of Christ and United Methodist officials are attacking the demonstrators outside the Capitol who protested the March 21 vote for Obamacare.
“I have been watching the activities of the Tea Party for months curious about their underlying motives,” intoned the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, president of the 1.1 million member United Church of Christ. He condemned Tea Party demonstrators for having “spit upon” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) and having “shouted names that we have not heard in the public square since the days of the Civil Rights movement,” which are a “disgrace to our nation’s civility.”
While it is theoretically possible that out of thousands of demonstrators, a few could have shouted nasty epithets, so far no evidence has been produced, despite a multitude of videos. A video of the alleged spitting incident seems to show an effusion of spittle from shouting, not intentional spitting. Cleaver referred to the ostensible spitter as the man “who allowed saliva to hit my face.”
Despite the dearth of any proof, the Religious Left climbed aboard immediately with the worst assumptions based primarily on their own projected stereotypes of conservatives. The UCC’s Rev. Black insisted that he was “not surprised because I have long suspected that racism and homophobia are some of the underlying motives.” He called upon his “brothers and sisters in the United Christ of Christ and our faith partners to resist entering into dialog or debate with such demonstrations of hate that go against our Christian understanding to love our neighbors.”
For many on the Religious Left, there are nostalgic memories of, or wished for fantasies about, having marched for social justice in the 1960’s. For them, any resistance to their statist agenda must have behind it another Bull Connor or Mayor Daley. Having largely abandoned Christian orthodoxy, the Religious Left’s cosmology is essentially political, with conservatives representing the demonic, and leftists the angels of light ushering in salvation. This conflation of religion with politics does not allow much room for recognizing possible good intentions among political adversaries.
While the UCC is typically further left politically, officials of the 7.9 million United Methodist Church organized a virtual full court press against the supposed hatefulness of the anti-Obamacare Tea Partiers. The United Methodist News Service even issued a special bulletin that repeated unquestioningly that anti-Obamacare demonstrators shouted “racial epithets” at black congressmen and a sexual orientation slur at Congressman Barney Frank.
“It saddens me, the acrimonious debate both in Congress and in the public at large,” bemoaned United Methodist Bishop Gregory Palmer, president of his denomination’s Council of Bishops. “We have failed to carry on serious debate without personal attacks and name-calling.” Palmer was among other left-leaning religious officials who publicly urged Obamacare’s passage.
The troubled head of the United Methodist Commission on Religion & Race viewed the Tea Party protesters as “sobering examples that show racial- and gender-based hate remain active ingredients in U.S. social life.’” The United Methodist News Service also quoted activist Gil Caldwell, a retired United Methodist minister, who disclaimed: “It ought to be obvious now to most persons, that even as all Americans have the right and responsibility to critique presidents and members of Congress, some few people have allowed their un-reconstructed racism to come forth as they exercise their right to protest.” Ominously, he wondered: “What doth God expect of the church in such a time as this?”
As United Methodism’s chief lobbyist on Capitol Hill, and a leading Obamacare proponent (though disappointed that it doesn’t go far enough towards full socialized medicine), JimWinkler issued a formal, nearly 500 word statement blasting supposed Tea Party hatred. “This past weekend’s appalling display by protesters in Washington, D.C., demonstrates the overtly racist message of too many of the so-called “Tea Party” members,” Winkler tut-tutted. He hailed Congressman Cleaver’s “deep faith and love for humanity” for not having pressed charges against the alleged spitter.
Winkler, as a full-time Religious Left social justice lobbyist, had more condemnation for the Tea Partiers than he’s had for regimes around the world that have murdered thousands of their own people. Meanwhile, Winkler’s agency frequently endorses demonstrations not always punctilious in their civility. On the same day as the Obamacare vote, pro-immigration and pro-open borders marchers also descended on the Capitol, with the active endorsement of Winkler’s United Methodist Board of Church and Society.
A United Methodist layman, Roy Beck, head of an anti-amnesty group called NumbersUSA, was present to interview pro-immigration demonstrators for his organization’s website. Once a prominent journalist with The United Methodist Reporter, the church’s largest circulation publication, Beck’s approach is factual and methodical. But he and his film team were surrounded by orchestrated and harassing march organizers with whistles, some of them dressed as mimes, and many of them pushing balloons at Beck declaring “Don’t Debate Hate” While Beck tried to conduct interviews, the mimes and friends shoved, blocked the camera and frantically blew their whistles ad nauseum to drown out Beck and his interviewees. (Some video is here, and here.)
Unlike the spitting and racial epithet allegations aimed at Tea Partiers, Beck’s treatment by the immigration march organizers was carefully recorded. But do not expect any expressions of concern from the Religious Left, especially those who endorsed the immigration march and its “Don’t Debate Hate” mimes.