The Religious Left’s Photo-Op Martyrdom

Mark Tooley is President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (www.theird.org) and author of Methodism and Politics in the Twentieth Century. Follow him on Twitter: @markdtooley.


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Jim Winkler, general secretary of the United Methodist General Board of Church & Society

Christians around the world often risk arrest (and worse) by repressive Islamist or Communist regimes because of their deep faith.  (One Iranian pastor is currently imprisoned after 2 years for objecting to compulsory Islamic teaching of his children at school.)  In America, left-leaning church officials seek symbolic arrest for public show in their defense of Big Government.

Religious Left officials on July 28 successfully sought arrest for “faithful civil disobedience” in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda to protest any consideration of limits on the Welfare and Entitlement State.  They were also demanding tax increases. Unlike more courageous and spiritually insightful fellow believers imprisoned in Iran, China, and North Korea, these U.S. activist prelates were presumably arrested, booked, bonded and released back to their nearby air-conditioned offices in time for posting fresh news releases.

Arrestees included United Methodism’s chief lobbyist Jim Winkler; former United Church of Christ President Paul Sherry; and multi-faceted Bob Edgar, himself an ordained United Methodist, former NCC general secretary, former Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania, and now chief of the liberal advocacy group Common Cause, the secular chief organizer of the “prayer” witness at the U.S. Capitol.

Why do these church officials associate the Gospel with unlimited government, spiraling debt, higher taxes, and dysfunctional welfare policies that perpetuate poverty? “Budgets reflect the priorities of a nation, and we are not a nation that puts its biggest burdens on the backs of those who have the least,” Edgar explained in his own Common Cause news release. “We believe Congress has a moral obligation to stand strong against cuts to our most needy and to assure that corporations and billionaires pay their fair share.”

With the others, Edgar vaguely admitted that “spending has to be controlled, long-term” without specifying how. He insisted that higher taxes on the “wealthy” were the answer and attacked plans from House Speaker John Boehner and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid because they omitted tax increases.

Are there enough “wealthy” to cover multi-trillion dollar deficits?  Would tax increases not have to include the middle class? How would tax increases impede investment, job growth, and consumer spending? Would tax increases only fuel further government growth? These questions did not seem much to interest Edgar and the religious arrestees in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, whose faith in ever larger Big Government is nearly without limits.

Across the street from the U.S. Capitol on the lawn of the historic Methodist Building, United Methodist chief lobbyist Jim Winkler, in addition to his arrest, has been hosting daily “prayer” vigils in defense of Big Government with other left-leaning church groups and the Islamic Society of North America. (See my assistant Bart Gingerich’s onsite report.) To the media, Winkler explained of his arrest:  “We are sending a visible signal to those in power that we do not believe the negotiations over the debt ceiling and budget can be resolved on the backs of poor people.”

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  • elihew

    "professing" christians…

  • zsqpwxxeh

    Is the United Methodist Church a leftist organization now? They're beginning to sound like Unitarian Universalists plus Jesus. I seem to remember reading somewhere that their membership is in a tailspin. Any info on this from readers?

    • Questions

      UMC has been like this since the 1970s and maybe earlier. Donations to it might as well be donations to ACORN.

  • Steve

    Maybe we should get the churches to pay their "fair share"?

  • Brian

    Notice you never see these leftists protesting against big city mayors with 50% unemployment and illiteracy rates thru the roof. The bible says we are to "strengthen the arm of the poor" these leftists only strengthen the arm of big government.

  • StephenD

    I've known clergy that have put their money where their mouth is and have gone without to share with those less fortunate. With these folks in mind, I curb my tongue. But…these "spectacles" should know, we see you for what you really are. You are nothing more; and no less than the scourge of Communism. You may say you're for "charity" but charity is voluntary. Remember, God LOVES a cheerful giver and not one of compulsion. You taking from me to give to…well, stop right there. You taking from me is STEALING! You're not supposed to do that…or have you forgotten?

  • guest

    I found the comment of "offering their bodies as sacrifice" highly offensive. They are comparing themselves to Jesus who offered up his body. There is no comparison. They miss the parts of the New Testament that speak of the church taking care of their own people by taking up collections, the part about if a man refuses to work, he should not get a share of the food, love (not demonize) one another, render unto Caesar what is Caesar render up to God what is God's (while looking at a coin). Nowhere does it say that the STATE provide for the people.

  • RicS

    Who would Jesus indebt? (probably not our grandchildren)