Easter Thoughts on the Hoosier Methodists who started the Iraq War

There was a time when the church was very powerful–in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.

–Martin Luther King, Letter from a Birmingham Jail

Liberation Theology on Fox News

The New York Times ran a front page story entitled “Obama Talk Fuels Easter Sermons” today. This article was written in response to this week’s attempted smearing swiftboating of Obama’s campaign after it became widely known that the presidential canidiate’s pastor, Rev. Jerimiah Wright, had too much to say about black empowerment and American injustice.Below, and earlier this week, idiot conservative commentator Sean Hannity tried to pile on Rev. Wright and comes away looking like the hack that he is.

The New York Times and St. Luke’s United Methodist Church

Back to today’s article in the New York Times. It quoted Rev. Kent Millard, the senior pastor at St Luke’s, Indiana’s most powerful and largest United Methodist Church. Like Rev. Wright, Rev. Millard pastors a U.S. Senator.

“Senator Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is member of our congregation, and I would hope he would never be held accountable for everything I have said in the last 15 years,” said Dr. Millard, who is white. “Why is there any assumption that a person in church is expected to agree with everything a pastor says?”

I have met Rev. Millard a few times and have seen him in action. By all accounts, he is a very decent and is genuinely concerned with social justice.Still, this quote–to borrow a theological term–is horse shit.

The War in Iraq Caused by 2 3 4 United Methodist Men?

Today wraps up the Christian Holy Week. On Wednesday, smack dab in the middle of this holiest of weeks, our nation also marked the five year anniversary to the start of the Iraq War. Over at Lockerbie Central United Methodist Church, we held a worship service to mark this tragic date.

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney

It is clear that two United Men should be held fully accountable in starting this awful war. President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney are both members of United Methodist Churches.

Senator Richard Lugar

A third United Methodist man, Indiana senator Richard Lugar, is also very guilty for starting this war. As John Nichols wrote for The Nation, the Indiana senator could have almost ended this war last summer. Lugar paints himself as a Bush skeptic, but voted for it before it started and voted to reauthorize it. Unlike any other Republican, Lugar could have stopped this war, or at least exposed the lies that led us to war.

What Would Rev. Kent Millard Do?

There are not many people who could have stopped this war. The president was spoiling for a fight and he got it. But, this is where Rev. Millard comes in.He is a very prominent person in the community, does a good job of running a fabulous church, and pastors to the one person, Sen. Richard Lugar, who could have possibly stopped this war dead in its tracks.

Speaking Truth–But Not Speaking Truth to Power

I have no idea if any private conversations took place between Rev. Millard and Sen. Lugar. But on the St. Luke’s website, you can find Rev. Millard’s sermons. He preached on Sundays very close to the start of the war and a few weeks after the war started.Good sermons, but he mentions Rick Warren multiple times without ever talking about Iraq. He talks about Zimbabwe but not Baghdad.Six weeks before the war started though, he did preach a sermon “Should We go To War with Iraq Now? He answered, “You see I’m not trying to tell  you what you should believe about the war but to encourage you to make your own decision.”

Last year, on the day before the four year anniversary of the war, he spoke that “the path of Jesus is the path of compassion.” He talks about Zimbabwe again and the need for anti-malaria mosquito nets. He doesn’t mention that one day of spending on the Iraq War ($275 million) could buy enough nets for all of Zimbabwe and probably most of Africa.

Maybe it is unfair to ask somebody to risk his reputation and his standing in the church. But, Rev. Millard, perhaps more so than anybody else, could have thrown a big monkey wrench into this war machine.

If Lugar wasn’t going to be a vocal leader against the war, then Millard should have made Lugar read the Sermon on the Mount a hundred times.

If that didn’t work, Millard and other Indiana Methodist leaders should have got arrested–perhaps by taking over Lugar’s office. If that didn’t work, ask Lugar to leave the Methodist church, along with Dick and George. And if that didn’t work, figure out something that would have worked.

Instead, we are going to spend $3 trillion on war, have killed probably a million Iraqis, and have seen 4,000 of our soldiers die for a mistake.

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One thought on “Easter Thoughts on the Hoosier Methodists who started the Iraq War

  1. Pingback: Learning about Holy Conferencing « The New Methodists

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