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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 5/25/16

United Methodists Answer: "What Does It Profit?"

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Sixty-two years after the U.S. Supreme Court banned racial segregation in U.S. public schools, the United Methodist Church ended its 2016 General Conference by voting 559-157 to continue investing its funds in U.S. corporations profiting from operations in illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian Territories.

This do-not-divest vote rejected an effort by some delegates to the UMC General Conference to halt all investments in three American corporations profiting from Israel's immoral and illegal behavior.

There are brothels in the state of Nevada which profit from what the vast majority of Methodists would consider to be immoral conduct. Some of these brothels would, no doubt, welcome church funds to sanctify their businesses.

Tell me, fellow Methodists, what is the difference between investing church funds in brothels and putting church funds to work in illegal Israel settlements built on Palestinian land?

While we reflect on your answer, remember that brothels in eight Nevada counties are legal under Nevada law, while the existence of Israeli settlements on stolen land violates international law.

By its vote, 559 to 157, to underwrite illegal occupation, did the Methodist delegates (559!) sanction immorality?

We will sit here and thumb through John Wesley's book of sermons while we wait for your answer.

Meanwhile, we need to consider a history that links two tracks, secular and religious.

The Supreme Court declared racial segregation in public schools to be illegal 62 years ago. Meanwhile. over on its religious corners, the Methodist Church continued to practice segregation in its national organizational structure.

They retained that institutional segregation for 14 more years.

It happened this way:

In 1939, the people who called themselves Methodists, not a biblical term but a derogatory term used by opponents ("these people are so methodical"), sought to unify three branches of the denomination, initially torn apart in the 19th century over slavery.

The 1939 merger was proposed to unite the Methodist Protestant Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Initially split up by the historical circumstances of race, the new denomination was not about to give up segregation, the prevailing custom of the Old South and in many parts of the rest of the nation.

The Methodists chose to continue their segregated ways in their new structure by creating a new Methodist Church, divided into five regional jurisdictions, and the Central Jurisdiction, which was set aside exclusively for African-American churches.

The Central Jurisdiction was devised to segregate African-American churches, bishops, pastors and members. There were exceptions, of course, but for the most part, especially in the Old South, the old segregated pattern continued.

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James Wall served as a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois, from 1999 through 2017. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Many sources have influenced (more...)

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