I’m disappointed in the General Board of Church and Society #UMC #GC2012

The General Board of Church & Society (GBCS) of The United Methodist Church applauds the ruling by the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services (HHS) to ensure that all new insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act include contraceptive coverage without patient cost-sharing, except in very narrow circumstances.

“This is a great day for women in the United States,” said Jim Winkler, GBCS chief executive. “This ruling ensures the availability of contraception for all women. It will result in millions having the services to be able to plan their families and prevent unplanned pregnancies regardless of the woman’s economic security.”

via Content Search | The General Board of Church and Society.

I support birth control. I do, I can’t help it. I don’t see in either Scripture or UMC doctrine where birth control is not allowed and nor do I see this as a pro-life issue. I understand Catholic Doctrine and respect it. More than that, I understand the basis of their doctrine and it has made me really reconsider my own stance. I do not believe that we have ‘rights’ that can be democratized before God; I do believe that we have rights in our political realm, and one such right is to our religious beliefs.

I do not support the HHS rule which requires religious institutions to pay for birth control although I do support a health care mandate. Further, I support the right of the Government to defend its citizens against religious beliefs declared contrary to the common good. For instance, Sharia Law, FGM, polygamy and other such things. The difference between these two actions is simple: choice. People make a decision to work at Catholic hospitals. They make a decision not to be Catholic or to be Catholic. They make a decision to use or not use birth controls. They know the expectations of all of these things. But, this boils down to choice. The Government should not interfere in these basic rights to for people to decide for themselves some of these issues.

I stand with my brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church who oppose the HHS rule and hope that, in the year given to come under the mandate, that this rule will be repealed. I do not think that either the President or the Secretary of HHS are evil for this; but I do think that this is a poorly thought decision which will have ramifications both in the immediate and if it is not repealed, in the distant future. There were other fixes for this, by the way, and they must be reached to preserve not only ecumenical relationships, but religious relationships which helped to fight for the healthcare law in the first place.

Also, this is why I support a single-payer health care law.

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Post By Joel L. Watts (10,173 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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9 thoughts on “I’m disappointed in the General Board of Church and Society #UMC #GC2012”

  1. Amen.

    I was listening to David Brooks and E.J. Dionne on NPR. Even Dionne disagreed with the decision. The free expression of religion is still fundamental and this rule strikes to the heart of an American value.

  2. Disappointed yes, a surprise no. I stopped having high expectations of our GBCS many years ago. Remember my comment on Facebook today about Protestant moral reflection? Well, I rest my case.

  3. Wait a minute. As you say, “The Government should not interfere in these basic rights to for people to decide for themselves some of these issues”, and “the HHS rule which requires religious institutions to pay for birth control”, and “The difference between these two actions is simple: choice. People make a decision to work at Catholic hospitals. They make a decision not to be Catholic or to be Catholic. They make a decision to use or not use birth controls”…You are sounding like Romney. Corporations are people? A Catholic hospital is a corporation, not an individual. The individual is the employee, not the employer. People work at Catholic hospitals because they need a job, not to be subservient to church doctrine through their job. The insurance is provided by the corporation. You are talking about “individual” rights. The individual (employee) has the right to “not” get birth control, if that is what they want. All this ruling does is require the corporation (who has NO individual rights) to provide coverage if the employee wants it. Another side to it….it has already been said that most Catholics use birth control. So the hierarchy of the church is dictating what the individual employees, Catholic or not, can get through their health coverage, even though most Catholics use birth control. So the hierarchy of the church (in this case, much like a CEO of a corporation) denies equal coverage under the law to their employees, because of the corporation’s beliefs. No individual rights are being violated on the employer’s side.

    1. Gary, I understand your points, but I disagree.

      Religious institutions founded upon their particular doctrines, are still religious institutions. There is a different between an institution founded by a religious person and one found as a religious institution with goals and other missions based upon the Church’s moral beliefs. Further, institutions, which still aren’t people, aren’t corporations.

      It’s sorta like United Methodists who through their Book of Discipline oppose gambling opening up a United Methodist institution and being told to pay for the allowance of gambling. Sure, UM’ers gamble, but this is not the Government role to tell a Church to change it’s viewpoints based on the majority of it’s adherents.

      Again, this is why we need a single-payer mandate.

  4. I agree, to disagree. As an example, the Catholic Health Association, under their “governance”, “The CHA Board of Trustees is responsible for overseeing the affairs of CHA and for setting its strategic direction. Members of the board (other than the President/CEO, who serves ex‑officio) are elected to serve three-year terms and may be re-elected to serve second three-year terms.”….Board of trustees, President, and CEO, sounds like a corporation…assuming they employ people, Catholic or not. And I bet the majority of the health funding comes from government grants…..there again, to employ people to carry out health care tasks. No tithing involved.

    1. Gary, but doesn’t that also sound sorta like a Methodist Church :)

      I don’t like forcing anyone to violate their religious beliefs. Frankly, this would be a lot better if, say, we had a great health care law!

  5. As a former individual who was going to be ordained a deacon in the United Methodist Church I am so disappointed in the UMC for not standing with our brethen in the Catholic church. This is an issue that is going to bite us. This is like telling a vegan they are required to buy milk, a Jewish individual they are required to buy bacon, and a Quaker to fight in a war. This is against the Catholic churches’ teachings. Maybe you should read this article: Time To Admit It: The Church Has Always Been Right On Birth Control
    http://www.businessinsider.com and see all the horrible things that have happened since Birth Control was legalized. The United Methodist Church should be standing with the Catholic church merely as a support for religious freedom. Oh and the band-aid the President put on the problem yesterday is not enough. Thank you for at least realizing that the church is wrong in their statement.

  6. I’m a member of First United Methodist Church in Pine Mountain. For some time I’ve been concerned with the conduct of the General Board of Church and Society under the direction of Jim Winkler. I would like to share some thoughts with you before the Annual Conference.

    As a Christian and a Soldier, I kept quiet as Mr. Winkler misrepresented the Church’s position related to military matters after 9-11. I did likewise as he called for criminal charges against our nation’s leaders.

    I’ve not challenged him or his inner circle when they’ve called anyone who didn’t buy into their political positions, war-mongers, racists, sexists and homophobes.

    When he was arrested in the rotunda of our nation’s capitol last year I held my tongue until some began to call his actions honorable and he was called a hero. I respectfully submit there is nothing honorable, or heroic, about getting arrested if the cause is to support continued, unsustainable government spending and bad mouth the military. To my knowledge, the UMC has never called him to account for this so-called act of civil disobedience which violated the UMC Book of Discipline.

    I understand the mission of the United Methodist Church is the Great Commission. We are to go out and make disciples for Jesus Christ. The mission of the GBCS, as I understand it, is to help make the world more like the Church. Time after time, the GBCS has made political alliances with groups and people who deny and even detest the Lord Jesus Christ. It would seem Mr. Winkler believes his mission is to make the Church more like the world. By many accounts, the GBCS spends more time, money and energy trying to change our doctrine than they do trying to support it.

    Sadly, the GBCS has almost unlimited authority to speak for all of us. Because of this small group of people, the world gets the impression that our official position list reads something like this: War is never justified, most soldiers are ignorant pawns (the rest are cold blooded killers), abortion is none of our business, Israel is evil, socialism is good, business is evil, Jesus was a Socialist, Occupy Protesters are good, Tea-Party folk are evil and ignorant, abstinence is outdated, traditional marriage is gone, and its really time we forget this nonsense about no sex outside of marriage.

    Last week Mr. Winkler, speaking for all members of the UMC, took the position that faith groups do not have a right refuse to pay for birth control, abortifacients and sterilization even if it is contrary to their Church doctrine. In this week’s “Word from Winkler,” he writes this is not a matter of religious freedom and saying it is, does not make it so. He argues against Catholic doctrine and for government imposition. He’s signed a petition on our behalf in opposition to the other Churches.

    I respectfully advised Mr. Winkler, “If you allow the government to force someone else’s church to do something you do believe in, don’t expect that church to stand with you when the government orders your church to do something you don’t believe in.”

    The response I got was, “You’re too simplistic”.

    I’m not suggesting we replace the far left Mr. Winkler with a moderate or a conservative. While some might think that would be more in keeping with supporting our Book of Discipline, I don’t agree. My hope and prayer is that the UMC will get out of the business of politics. We’ve allowed the GBCS to speak for us for too long, running away too many good members, alienating us from too many other Christian Churches and making too many unholy political alliances to further an agenda that does not bring glory to God.

    I love my Church family and very few UMC members seem to be of the mind of Mr. Winkler. My thoughts have been to ask,”If we’re not willing to make Mr. Winkler and the GBCS accountable and respectful then am I in the wrong Church?” I’ve decided instead to ask, “What can we do together to fix this problem?”

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