Controversy surrounding march — fomented by both opponents and proponents — has obscured original goals, statement declares.
By Jim Winkler
General Board of Church & Society
The United Methodist Church
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The General Board of Church & Society (GBCS) of The United Methodist Church is rescinding its endorsement of the "One Nation Working Together" rally in Washington, D.C., on October 2. The board is disturbed by some of the overtly political and partisan statements issued by organizers of the march.
GBCS agreed to be an endorser because of the aims of the rally to "build a more united country with good jobs, equal justice and quality public education for all." These goals are non-controversial and consistent with scripture and the United Methodist Social Principles.
Further, the rally was initiated by respected civil rights organizations such as the NAACP and the Leadership Conference for Civil & Human Rights. The list of endorsers, however, grew to include a variety of organizations that created enormous, unnecessary controversy. The inclusion of such groups on the list of endorsers has detracted greatly from the professed aims of the rally and the board is very disappointed this has occurred.
GBCS signed on as an endorser of "One Nation Working Together" prior to the controversial August 28 event on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial led by Fox News TV and radio personality Glenn Beck. Subsequently, the "One Nation Working Together" rally has been portrayed by opponents as a counter-demonstration to Mr. Beck's event.
GBCS does not support a statement reported in the September 30 issue of The Washington Post made by a key organizer of the event. He said, "We aren't the alternative to the tea party; we are the antidote." This statement heightens the sense of the "One Nation Working Together" rally as a gathering organized in opposition to Mr. Beck's demonstration.
Unfortunately, discourse within the United States has grown increasingly divisive. Perhaps more troubling, discourse within The United Methodist Church has taken on a very un-Christ-like tone. E-mails and phone calls made to the board by clergy and laity have been shocking in their vitriol.
The "One Nation Working Together" rally began with a clean, clear message consistent with the social teachings of The United Methodist Church. The controversial circumstances fomented by both opponents and proponents of the rally do in no way detract from our support for efforts to "build a more united country with good jobs, equal justice, and quality public education for all."
We realize that many United Methodists who share these goals will attend the event. We pray that the rally will overcome the misguided controversies surrounding it and deliver hope for the change their presence does endorse.