Friday, April 25, 2008

Under the Guise of Religion

I received this message and send it on to you. Please join us who will not let the war criminals use a cover of an honest religion to kill, maim and destroy human beings.


I am Andrew J. Weaver, who organized the petition at I am an ordained United Methodist minister and research psychologist living in New York City. There are over 11,700 petition signers from every state, including 29 U.S. Bishops. The petition also has worldwide support from Methodist leaders in Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and Sri Lanka.

President Gerald Turner of SMU Sends Out Letter

On April 11, three days after Gerald Turner sent a letter to all the delegates to the South Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church (UMC) extolling the supposed financial advantages and other virtues of the Bush library and partisan think-tank, Bush announced to the media that he has been deeply involved from the beginning in the details of the use of torture that he authorized.

ABC News reported: “President Bush says he knew his top national security advisers discussed and approved specific details about how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency.” According to White House sources, the discussions about torture techniques were so detailed that some of the “interrogation sessions were almost choreographed” (1-2).

A month earlier, on March 8, Bush vetoed legislation banning waterboarding and other methods of torture used by government employees. The legislation would have limited CIA agents to 19 less-aggressive tactics outlined in the U.S. Army field manual. The president stated that the government “needs to use tougher methods than the U.S. military to wrest information from terrorism suspects” (3). It has been highly documented that at least 19 prisoners have been tortured to death by the U.S. military (4).

Waterboarding has a long and sickening history. It was used as a means of torture and coerced baptism during the Protestant Reformation and Spanish Inquisition to convert Jews, Mennonites, witches, and other suspected heretics. It consists of immobilizing an individual on his or her back with the head inclined downward, and pouring water over the face to force the inhalation of water into the lungs. As the victim gags and chokes, the terror of imminent death is pervasive.

Torture is a crime against humanity and a violation of every human rights treaty in existence. It represents a betrayal of the deepest values of the UMC that founded and built SMU. In the supposedly “less enlightened” 18th century, John Wesley explicitly preached against the torture of prisoners of war:

War itself is justifiable only on principles of self-preservation: Therefore it gives us no right over prisoners, but to hinder their hurting us by confining them. Much less can it give a right to torture, or kill, or even to enslave an enemy when the war is over (5).

Bush, who claims to be a “proud Methodist,” shows no sign of contrition or regret or remorse or repentance for his un=Christian behavior. To the contrary, he continues to try to justify himself and protect those in our government who have used and continue to use torture. Lutheran Dietrich Bonhoffer in Nazi Germany rightly called the cowardliness of the Christians in that terrible time to make evil-doers accountable for their wicked deeds “cheap grace”. Building a monument to this torturer-in-chief on a UMC campus to “celebrate this great president, celebrate his accomplishments” (6) is a defilement of our church that will permanently damage our credibility to proclaim the Christian faith.




(4) Oath Betrayed: Military Medicine and the War on Terror by Steven H. Miles


(6) Statement by Don Evans, the Chair and a chief fundraiser for the George W. Bush foundation on Feb. 22, 2008

The Legal Case is in Place

Our legal team tells us that we must go to court to protect the property rights and voting rights of the 290 Jurisdictional delegates who are the elected representatives of the property owners, the 1.83 million UMC members of the South Central Jurisdiction (SCJ). To do so we need at least one delegate willing to step forward to be the plaintiff in the case. So far we have not found such a delegate. Many fear the consequences to their future ministry if they challenge their bishop. If you know a delegate in the SCJ who might be a part of our case please ask her or him to contact me at

The lawyers, including a former head of the Texas Bar Association, who have given us free counsel and legal research for several months, are telling us we have a solid legal case which we have a very good chance to win. Through your wonderful generosity we have the funds to start the legal process. You have my deep appreciation for your faithfulness. Unfortunately, without a delegate we can not go forward. Can you help us locate one?

Finally, continue to encourage your friends and colleagues to sign the petition. Each person is important. We need to tell officials of the UMC at every level that we find an association with George W. Bush unacceptable.

With Best Regards,
Rev. Andrew J. Weaver, Ph.D.


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