Methodist ‘Repentance’ for America’s Sins

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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After his pseudo-history of colonial Massachusetts and Virginia, Tinker skipped over 2 centuries to condemn the U.S. occupation of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War.    Ominously, President William McKinley, as Tinker recalled accurately, was a Methodist who prayed on his knees for divine guidance before deciding how to handle the territory after the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay surrendered to Admiral Dewey.  Tinker claimed America then “slaughtered” 1 million Filipinos, which he called “hard stuff” for modern Methodists to hear.  How many died during the Philippines insurrection against U.S. rule is debated, but an estimated 30-40,000 rebel combatants died across several years.  Several hundred thousand civilians are estimated to have possibly died during the period, mostly from cholera.

Tinker then shifted to the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre, when Colonel John Chivington, a failed Methodist minister and abolitionist, led Colorado Territory militia in an attack on peaceable Indians, perhaps killing 150.  Facing court martial, Chivington resigned, and he later was condemned by a congressional committee.  He lived largely afterwards in disgrace.   The United Methodist Church has been repenting for the Sand Creek Massacre since 1996.  Tinker also complained about Tennessee Methodists who “put their political marbles in the hat”  of President Andrew Jackson  during his removal of the Cherokees, even as some Methodist missionaries supported the tribesmen.

What’s the answer to all this American/European/Methodist sin against tribal peoples across the centuries?  “Way too early to be thinking about reconciliation,” Tinker warned.  Native peoples are “not reconciled to conquest.”  It would be “like asking abused spouse to live with abuser without change.”  And “apologies don’t do anything.”   But Tinker vaguely suggested a good start would be to guarantee “equal access” to the riches of the world.  Perhaps reparations?  He didn’t explain.   Naturally Tinker denounced the “political system that continues to find new excuses to invade other people’s lands.”   He urged a return to “harmony and balance,”  citing tribal reconciliation rites after killing an elk or even eating corn, which is seen as like a mother.  “There has to be a ceremony to create relationship between you and the elk,” he helpfully explained.

Prior to Tinker, another tribesman speaking for the original native peoples of Florida told delegates they were welcome to what is now known as the “colonial state of Florida.”  Explaining that his people had first emerged from the “birthing canal from the female earth,” he warned the Methodist visitors, “We have rules.” Those rules include not taking 30 minute showers, he shared, since even the water is sacred.

Some international Methodist delegates thought the “repentance” service, organized by U.S. church elites less concerned about orthodox Christian doctrine than they, espoused pagan themes.   They also didn’t feel complicit in the cited misdeeds of Europeans and Americans of 2 and 3 centuries ago.

Pagan or not, the United Methodist “repentance” was based more on leftist ideology than the Christian understanding of a fallen world needing redemption from God.   European colonists and early Americans were sinners, as were the native peoples they encountered.  Actual history should be acknowledged.    And this question should be posed.  Is humanity better or worse off with the “colonies” of the United States, a multicultural republic that espouses human equality and has created unprecedented freedoms and riches for countless millions?  Most Americans, including most Native Americans and most Methodists, unlike their purported spokespersons, almost certainly are more thankful for than repentant over America.

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  • http://www.GodsSabbathRest.us Gary McAleer

    Although the Methodist's method of reconciliation was clumsy, it has a Biblical basis. In the book of Daniel, the prophet demonstrates a corporate repentance for sins he personally did not commit (Dan.9:5-15). He recognized that fact that we could've been born anyone throughout history. It is only by time and chance that we are who we are. So we have no right to allow an arrogant spirit concerning the weakness of others. But as for taking the guilt of another man's sins, this is never called for: "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him." Eze.18:20

    • intrcptr2

      Such a thing is a part of biblical Judaism. But nothing like that even appears in the NT; and Jeremiah, paralleling Ezekiel, is crystal clear that it would not.

    • sod

      Daniel is blameless in front of the Lord. Tinker is not. Daniel is a prophet, Tinker is not. However Tinker tried to mimic Daniel (Assume he had read the Old Testament), he can't, unless he repent himself first.

      Indians versus Indians, Indians versus whites, whites versus Indians, all are based on human's sin nature. When the Christian Indian boy warned his Christian white family, we can see it's Christ's love conquered all.

  • SCREW SOCIALISM

    The Methodist church has been hijacked by the same forces that hijacked the United Nations.

  • Darlington Hoopes

    Bravo to the Methodists for acknowledging the sins of the past. Ignoring them is an Orwellian exercise in denial.

    • EthanP

      Yet they ignore the sins of all others? Wake up. To single this out is to ignore much else. I suggest you study the Mongol conquests. Exploitation and violence are the human norm and always has been.

      • johnnywoods

        EthanP, you make a good point. I was also wondering when this so called "harmony and balance" ever existed outside of the Garden of Eden before the fall. United Methodists should apologize to the Wesley brothers for the way they have degraded the Methodist Church over the past hundred years or so.

  • mrstarry76

    Having worked for Methodist pastors I can say that some of them are so far left it is insane. One female pastor refused to use "men" in any hymns, i.e. "God Rest Ye Merry GentleONES". Their social gospel is so deceitful. Romans 1:24-32 "they exchanged the truth of God for a lie". But another good Methodist pastor friend I have has just been booted out since he is too conservative for them. I think the time for "dividing the wheat from the chaff" has come and God Bless those who take a stand for Biblical truth.

  • Trebuchet

    "Tinker escorted his audience of nearly 1000", I didn't know there were 1000 Methodist left!

    • truckwork

      It's now 999. I was raised as a Methodist. When I married my Catholic wife, we both felt it important to take our children to church with us, so that they can see we try to live a Christian life. Both of our children received a Catholic education and I'm happy for that. Both continue to practice their faith despite years of college and four years of public high school.

      I've not been in a Methodist Church in many years. This type of thinking was not what I remember. I'm not going back to a church that would espouse this type of garbage. I look to any church to teach me what the bible says and to apply that lesson to life on this earth, so that I may share eternal life with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. While redemption in His eyes requires that I acknowledge my sins and reject them, Jesus doesn't require us to accept the sins of those who have gone before us.

      As for those who came to this country and provided materials like blankets and cloth that exposed natives to serious disease, there was no way that they could have known it's impact on those natives. That's not sin.

  • StephenD

    Don't you know that there were no confrontations between any peoples until the nasty Christians came?!? There were fields of Daffodils and frolicking Unicorns. The indigenous folks were all lovey-dovey with one another. Those stories you read in History of one tribe kidnapping the women, enslaving the youth, killing the men are all fabrications. NO ONE EVER did any wrong until the Christians came. It is the same story in Africa. Until Slavery (aka White Man Sin – Lets not mention it was instituted by the Muslims and is STILL PRACTICED TODAY), no separate peoples in Africa ever fought. There was ALWAYS peace. No one ever captured and enslaved those they conquered because there was never any conquest. Nope. It wasn't until the EVIL Christians came…and we should bow our heads in shame.
    Boy, these folks should find a corner where they can pound sand up their Arse!

    • randy

      Christians are scum and it should banned.

      • SCREW SOCIALISM

        socialists are scum and should be relocated to Mecca where they will be greeted with open arms and sharp knives.

      • Zionista

        You're not just a one note nerd – you're a bigot – get lost!

      • Ghostwriter

        Uh-oh! Mr. Broken Record is back. And he's still singing the same bad song.

      • intrcptr2

        Thanks for the empathy.

        But just how do you intend to burn the 1st Amendment (Obviously since so many Christians worked on it and died fighting for it, it should be). Just curious

      • Stephen_Brady

        You are scum and should be banned …

        We can play these stupid little wordgames all night long, and you still won't gain an ounce of decency or honesty.

        • WilliamJamesWard

          How's this for a stupid word game………randy, randy, randy, randy, randy, randy……..
          kind of crazy, I wonder if he is speaking for all idiots or just himself……….William

          • Stephen_Brady

            Ouch! But true …

  • EthanP

    For good or ill, the history of mankind is one of agression and exploitation. To single out that of native Americans is to live with blinders. Go Stevan D

  • dotherightthing4

    I was raised in the Methodist church but have not participated in organized religion in 40 years. I am shocked to say the least. I had heard the Methodist church was lurching Left but this is insane. This bears no resemblance to the church I grew up in which was a moderate, common sense, "do unto others" kind of setting.
    We need to deal with the here and now–we can not un-ring a bell–we can not turn back the hands of time. This is a GOOD country that sends medical and food aid to more countries than any other nation in the world.
    How many of these people (natives) does Tinker think actually have ANY knowledge of any of this? Stop stirring the pot and sowing seeds of dissension and resentment. Time to come together. Our country is coming apart at the seams and this type of crap is promoting it.

  • Castler

    To all of you who are not aware of the United Methodist Church's entanglement with the National Council of Chuches and the World Council of Churches should immediately go to Discover The Networks on this site. I left the Methodist Church in the mid-fifties, for the exact reasons stated at the site when I was a young teenager. All this has been clear since those times. I guess I was lucky to have had a father who was investigated by the FBI during FDR's administration for some comments he made in public about the lies coming from them concerning Social Security, which he described as a Ponzi Scheme and anyone who believed FDR was keeping the money for us in a drawer was a fool. A huge number of us are still asleep. Talk about a march through institutions. Thank you Dave for all your work.

    • WilliamJamesWard

      Strange that you bring up Social Security and FDR, my Uncle Joe Niles was a finance officer and
      confidant of FDR. I remember a Summer at Bethany beach Delaware in about 1955 and spent
      several days with my Uncle and he told me many things about the inside of Washington activities
      and who he liked or did not like and why. One thing stands out in my memory, he told me never
      to get a Social Security Card, never, it is supposed to not be for identification but he said it
      will, every American will be numbered and with the advent of computers be followed from cradle
      to grave……………………………………………….William

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Tinker is a false teacher with a rediculous message, no one can make restitution for the sins of
    another, nor are Christians to be quick to make any judgement on others unless it is quite
    obvious and in their face. Tinker's insanity and falsehood from the Christian perpective is
    in his denegration of the Gopel of Jesus Christ on which Christians hold sacred and as the
    words of life. How could he if genuine state that the Gospels was a poor trade for land. If he
    was a true minister of God's word he would know that in Mark 8, 35-35 and Matthew 16, 26,
    What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and loose his soul. That he has many
    people lstening to him attests to the fact empty suits, con men and false preachers are
    with us as much as ever and we are to be watchful, the man is a disgrace…………William

  • ratonis

    I once asked an influential Methodist minister: "Who is Jesus Christ that he can command you to do anything. Who is he that you would want to obey him?" I kid you not, this was his reaction — he shuffled his feet, looked down at the floor, then told me that he did not want to get into a discussion of "religious language." And guys like this have the privilege of the pulpit that we are supposed to listen to them. Ordination. A joke, really.

  • http://www.muccings.blogspot.com gfmucci

    A Methodist pastor who I knew in HS and not seen for a few dozen years shocked me by his slide to the left – or perhaps he always harbored that tendency. So much so that he could pass for a Communist. And search "Islam" on the United Methodist Church denomination web site and you will find gross ignorance of the Islamic ideology and outrageous attempts to find "common ground."

  • RonCarnine

    I would urge you to read Theodore Roosevelt's "The Winning of the West". He had access to many manuscripts that were not available to others who wrote "histories" of the settlement of the West (Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, etc). He does an excellent job with information lent to him by people who would not let their family heirlooms go to others. He condemns some of the "leftest" works and names them by name. He also calls a spade a spade, highlighting "white" atrocities. But he doesn't stop there like so many do, he also lists atrocities and broken treaties committed by the Indians. There was wrong on both sides. Much of the land settled by whites was land used by many tribes to hunt in but claimed by none. Also he looks at the spread of Christianity and the benefits it brought to whites and Indians alike. I know, some are going to call this a biased study done to justify the atrocities of the whites. Also, I would encourage you to read the available information about Dr. Walter Reed and his fellow doctors, as they ministered to all regardless of race or creed. They discovered how yellow fever and other diseases were spread by mosquitoes. Two of his co-workers intentionally allowed themselves to be infected and later died to prove how these diseases were spread. Further, and going back in history, at the time of the Crusades, Catholic monks started the first hospitals in the Middle East, treating Muslims and Christians alike. There is plenty of good to be found if you take the time to find it.

  • johnnywoods

    This Tinker fellow should study actual history where he would discover that Indians/Native Americans were often far more brutal toward each other than the white men ever were to them. That being said, there is enough sin and guilt to go around for every ethnicity on this planet and "The JUDGE of all the Earth" will deal with each of us accordingly. Be sure of that. Furthermore I don`t want anyone apologizing to any people on behalf of me or my forebears. Deal with your own sin Mr. Tinker and otherwise mind your own business. Thank you.

  • Amused

    O"h BROTHER ? What a bunch of mixed up moralists ! And that includes YOU TOO TOOLEY ! How do you figure the notion of "repenting for AMERICA'S SINS "….is a Methodist notion ? And why in the heck do you and these other agreeing ignoramus' attribute THAT to the left ??_ Every freaking TV preacher , from Billy Graham to John Hagee to Jerry Falwell have been preaching that message for decades . LOLOL…..that kinda stuff is much more on the RIGHT than anything else .But Tooley attributes that to what ? leftist thinking ? Really ! Just take the American Indian out of this strawman ,and it's the same ole' repocon crap . Before all you "alleged christians " spout and approve anymore foolishness , take a suggestion from a JEW , go find out what "The Everlasting Gospel " is ……..and what it means .

  • Amused

    This is an excerpt from the website TTA -Talk to Action on the religious rights planned D.C. meeting "Pray with Me "-
    Here's what amazes me about guys like Cummins: They claim to love America and make a big show of their alleged patriotism. It's always flag waving, the Pledge of Allegiance and "God Bless the U.S.A." with this crowd.
    Regarding Pastor Dan Cummins book -The Church-in a State of Seperation
    Yet even a glance at his book shows that it just drips with contempt for this nation and the people who live in it. We're all a bunch of dupes for the communists and the Fabian socialists who can't wait to tear down the nation; we're "evil" and easily misled. We've turned our backs on all that is good and decent. Ultimately, we're so stupid we've been sucked into doing Satan's bidding – even some of our churches are in on it!

  • Amused

    And you guys are worried about the Methodists?

  • Amused

    Pastor Cummins of Bridlewood Church in Texas and leader of Pray with Me upcoming planned meeting in D.C. says in his book King Saul was a socialist / 9/11 attacks /2008 stock market crash/ and the D.C. earthquake were a warning from G_D /Americans with Disabilities Act is Govt .Over-regulation because it tells people where to park their cars/
    He is joined with other pastors and religious figures on THE RIGHT .

  • Amused

    Here's what amazes me about guys like Cummins: They claim to love America and make a big show of their alleged patriotism. It's always flag waving, the Pledge of Allegiance and "God Bless the U.S.A." with this crowd.

    Yet even a glance at his book shows that it just drips with contempt for this nation and the people who live in it. We're all a bunch of dupes for the communists and the Fabian socialists who can't wait to tear down the nation; we're "evil" and easily misled. We've turned our backs on all that is good and decent. Ultimately, we're so stupid we've been sucked into doing Satan's bidding – even some of our churches are in on it!
    -Comments from TTA -Talk to Action-regarding pastor Dan Cummins and his book .

  • Amused

    Back to censoring are we ? Well then , let me put it like this , there are far ,far , more christian RIGHT ,that are calling America Evil ,and calling "the faithfull to repentance for the nation " .

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Oh my, tirade rebuffed or just being checked out for incindiary devices. Think on this, if you were a
    Deist, it would be such that you Believed in God. So and Atheist is one who does not believe in God.
    Now as I muse on this use of words it occurs to me to muse is to think and to Amuse is not to think.
    So just what is it you do to come to so many antithetical and obliterative collisions with what other
    people have opinion on while Amused oh great and astonishing one……….The Christians I know
    do not call America evil but are square with the idea evil is growing in our Nation and all should
    be concerned. The Tinkers are growing Oh great one and progressively so that debasement of
    sanity seems to be growing in and ever encreasingly crazy world yet you chastise Christian
    preachers who stick to their Bible with minor deviations but are basically identical in their core
    beliefs, why drag them into Tinker-bell and the festooning loons? ………………William and other
    inquiring minds…………………..

    • Looking4Sanity

      Way to spank the tardling!

  • Amused

    Yours is a sheltered life Ward , and your scope of awareness limited to only what you find ideologically acceptable ….and that's fine , that's your right , however reality nips at your words . The Methodists are no exception , in the " Repenting for Other's " buisiness . In fact the CHRISTIAN RIGHT , has gone so far as too blame 9/11 , the 2008 Wall Street Crash , the eartquake in D.C which cracked the Washington Monument , as warning from on High to "evil America " . And this is nothing new , Pat Robertson blamed the Katrina Devastation in New Orleans on the gays there , and the list goes on , and goes back for decades , politcal speeches rather than christian sermons fill many of these "alleged christian congregations . YES , I chastize christian preachers , and the Methodists mentioned are no exception . This is no "Leftist " ting , for they are found almost exclusively on the right and the spectrum reaches ton the radical and utterly ABSURD

  • Amused

    Yes , I chastize these so called "christians " , methodists included , who have supplanted the preaching AND teaching of The Everlasting Gospel with political ideology , and inciting religiously approved hatred for their opponents . Try coming out of your cave of righty blogs , and take a look around , you might learn something . You mention " core beliefs " ????? THERE IS ONLY ONE CORE BELIEF in true christianity , and that , many of these alleged christians are completely oblivious too , and you Ward are no exception .

  • Pault

    Methodism needs to repent of its own sins, not someone elses. If John Wesley preached in their pulpits today, he would be tared and featherd and run out of town. For the most part they are apostate from the foundational truths on which they were built.

    • Looking4Sanity

      Indeed. Most of the Methodists I know personally come with a built in sense of superiority that passes for piety in their own minds. The entire organization is top loaded with smug Progressives.

  • Looking4Sanity

    New Age "Christianity". I guess it's easier to repent for someone else's sins than to admit to yourself that you need to repent for your OWN sins. Tinker's sin is pride. He's obviously in love with the smell of his own farts.

    • Amused

      BTW meatball neither you or I nor ANYONE else can repent for someone else's sins .You languish in your ignorance ….as I see you are still Looking4[your]Sanity .YOU are the loser pilgrim , and you don't even know why .

      • Looking4Sanity

        They say that the retarded are easily amused. I see how you came by your moniker now. You're obviously too intellectually challenged to be able to recognize the difference between a statement of sarcastic derision and a statement of fact…even after being given an example of both in a single comment.Good luck with that.

  • Amused

    Spoken like a true mindless buffoon …keep Looking4[your]Sanity schmucko , and expressing how truly ignorant you are of the term I mentioned . BTW , just to enlighten one so ignorant , there is ONLY ONE Christianity , and at its core is the term I mentioned . It is obvious that such is above your own understanding , so you had better get to work …after all at this place in time, IT IS later than you think .