Methodists don't want presidential ad lib at SMU

By Simon Barrow
September 29, 2007

Andrew J. Weaver: Why Southern Methodist University shouldn't host the Bush library, contrasting the moral and religious legacy of Wesley with the intended figurehead for an SMU endowment.

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On his deathbed in 1791, Wesley wrote House of Commons leader William Wilberforce, who was converted under Wesley's ministry and became the principal anti-slavery activist in 19th century Britain. Wesley implores him to continue to fight slavery, "that execrable villainy which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature." American Methodists, following in the example of Wesley, have been at the vanguard of the abolitionist, suffrage, civil rights and environmental movements. Fighting for justice is deep within Methodist DNA.

It is tragic that George W. Bush, who claims membership in the United Methodist Church, appears to be without a basic appreciation for the Methodist heritage. It is heartbreaking that Bush has acted in profoundly immoral and destructive ways in office while claiming to be a devout Christian. To choose to launch a "shock and awe" war of aggression against the people of Iraq, based upon a series of manufactured falsehoods, is not following Christ. The war is a continuing catastrophe that is making many of his close friends rich on blood money. In addition, Bush has authorized torture, the moral equivalent of slavery.

Documenting this disgrace, on Sept. 15, 2006, the Washington Post published a lead editorial entitled "The president goes to Capitol Hill to lobby for torture." The Post reported:

President Bush rarely visits Congress. So it was a measure of his painfully skewed priorities that Mr. Bush made the unaccustomed trip yesterday to seek legislative permission for the CIA to make people disappear into secret prisons and have information extracted from them by means he dare not describe publicly.

Torture is not a Methodist value; it is a crime against humanity and a violation of every human rights treaty in existence. It represents a betrayal of our deepest human and religious values as a civilized society. (See books below for full documentation).

Because of this and other instances, immoral conduct from Bush, in February of 2007, clergy and laity of the UMC began a petition. It calls for the SMU trustees and the UMC to reject the Bush project, especially the partisan institute over which the university or UMC will have no oversight. That petition, at, now has the signatures of 16 UMC bishops, two former presidents of the New Zealand Methodist Church, a former president of the Irish Methodist Church, several hundred SMU alumni and more than 10,800 Christians (mostly United Methodists) and persons of conscience calling for the rejection of the Bush partisan institute.

The SMU petition is here:

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