Letters to the Editor

GREG STEWART: Leave politics at the church's door

On Sunday, a half-page forum was published in the Sun Herald.

The subject of the article concerned a matter on the ballot in just a matter of days. The people who signed the letter gave their reasons for supporting the position they were taking.

All of that is fine.

What is not fine is that they began the letter by identifying themselves as members of the United Methodist Church, and their signatures included their positions within the United Methodist Church. The letter also suggested that John Wesley himself would take the same position they were taking.

So, I am compelled to apologize to the public that may have gotten the impression (apparently sought by the forum) that there is a Methodist position on any live, narrow political matter.

The Book of Discipline sets out the constitution, doctrines and governance of the United Methodist Church. There is no authority for church officers to make political endorsements. Methodist custom, among the laity, is to leave political opinions at the church house door.

Finally, "Open Hearts, Open Minds and Open Doors" is not just a cute jingle; it is a fact. To maintain that diversity, accommodating people of all political stripes precludes us from getting down in the weeds on narrow issues that are "rendered to Caesar."

To my fellow Methodists, we must guard the institution. Insist that members who express their political views observe boundaries set by our constitution, customs and for nonprofits.

GREG STEWART

Gulfport

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