To: George W. Bush; Richard “Dick” Cheney(respondents)
Rev. Mark Craig – Sr. Pastor of Highland Park UMC
Rev. Michael L. Nichols – D.S. of the Dallas South District
Bishop William B. Oden – Bishop of North Texas Annual Conference United Methodist Council of Bishops
A Letter of Complaint Against George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
We, the undersigned, do hold that George W. Bush, a member of Park Hill United Methodist Church (UMC) in Dallas, Texas, and Dick Cheney (local membership unknown) are undeniably guilty of at least four chargeable offenses for lay members as listed in 2702.3 of the 2000 Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church. These offenses are: crime, immorality, disobedience to the Order and Discipline of The UMC, and dissemination of doctrine contrary to the established standards of doctrine of The UMC. For these offenses, we the undersigned call for an immediate and public act of repentance by the respondents. If the respondents do not reply with sincere and public repentance for their crimes, we demand that their membership in the United Methodist Church be revoked until such time that they sincerely and publicly repent.
George W. Bush, in his role as President of the United States of America and Commander in Chief, and Dick Cheney in his role as Vice-President, led the United States into an illegal war against the sovereign nation of Iraq. In article 23 of our Doctrinal Standards and General Rules (2000 Discipline, p.65) the U.S. government is described as “a sovereign and independent nation, and ought not to be subject to any foreign jurisdiction.” We hold that Iraq is also a “sovereign and independent nation” and is granted the same rights as the United States, no matter what anyone’s opinion is of its former head of state. Attacking a sovereign nation except in cases of legitimate self-defense is a violation of international law. This war, and subsequent occupation, dishonored the sovereignty of the people of Iraq as world citizens and as fellow children of God, in violation of Article 23. In Article 15, on page 71 of the Discipline, we claim to believe that “…God is owner of all things and that individual holding of property is lawful and is a sacred trust under God. Private property is to be used for the manifestation of Christian love and liberty, and to support the Church’s mission in the world…” With no credible army to defend themselves and no clear evidence that they possessed weapons of mass destruction, Iraq posed NO threat to our immediate national security. Our destruction of their property, murder of thousands, torture of many, and usurpation of their oil fields are unnecessary and deplorable violations of article 15 and our sacred trust under God to honor liberty, freedom, the sacred worth of human life and our mission in the world.
While all U.S. citizens bear a degree of responsibility for our invasion of Iraq, it was George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who initiated, promoted, and led this illegal war. It is they who bear the fullest responsibility for this crime.
As important as identifying the crime of the war itself is, we, the undersigned, believe it is essential to recognize that Bush and Cheney lied to the American people in order to push them into the unnecessary war with Iraq. They actively and intentionally deceived the American public by stressing a non-existent connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, by asserting Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, and by claiming Iraq was building a nuclear weapons program. There was no connection between Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, except those used by the United States. There was no existent nuclear weapons program in Iraq. The purported intelligence that the Bush administration used to support their claims of immanent threat had already been effectively debunked by the U.S. intelligence community, and both Bush and Cheney knew it. Instead of truthfully leading the American public, Bush and Cheney withheld, manipulated, and fabricated information about Iraq against the advice of many in the intelligence community in order to manufacture the lies that they and their administration used to convince many Americans that war was necessary. If any of these claims were true, in all likelihood, the repeated inspections by the United Nations and the United States would have found some credible evidence to support them, but no such proof has been found.
Disobedience to the Order and Discipline of The UMC,
Dissemination of Doctrine Contrary to the Established Standards of Doctrine of The UMC.
Article 16 in 103, p.71, of the 2000 Discipline states,
We believe civil government derives its just powers from the sovereign God. As Christians we…believe such governments should be based on, and be responsible for, the recognition of human rights under God. We believe war and bloodshed are contrary to the gospel and spirit of Christ. We believe it is the duty of Christian citizens to give moral strength and purpose to their respective governments through sober, righteous and godly living.
The illegal war against and occupation of Iraq are clear violations of international standards of human rights. The advocation and instigation of such a war by a United Methodist president and vice president, especially with no serious attempts at peaceful diplomacy, are without question “contrary to the gospel and spirit of Christ”, and consequently chargeable offenses under our Discipline.
For their malicious deception of the American people, warmongering, rejection of peaceful diplomacy and numerous violations of international law, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are guilty of crimes, immorality, disobedience to the Order and Discipline of the UMC and dissemination of doctrine contrary to the established standards of doctrine of the UMC.
In addition to these chargeable offenses, the respondents have repeatedly violated numerous United Methodist Social Principles. While we understand that the Social Principles are not church law, we note that at our last General Conference, many violations of the Social Principles were named under the chargeable offense of Immorality. Consistent with that precedent, we hold that the respondents’ various and abundant violations of at least the following Social Principles should be included in a charge of immorality.
Violations of Our Social Principles
(Listed by paragraph number from the 2000 Discipline)
160 I. The Natural World
…Therefore, let us recognize the responsibility of the church and its members to place a high priority on changes in economic, political, social, and technological lifestyles to support a more ecologically equitable and sustainable world leading to a higher quality of life for all of God’s creation.”
From pushing for drilling in ANWAR to deregulating polluting industries and cutting funding for toxic waste cleanup, the Bush administration has consistently been an anti-environment administration. These policies show their level of care for God’s creation.
162 III. The Social Community
I) Population. …People have the duty to consider the impact on the total world community of their decisions regarding childbearing and should have access to information and appropriate means to limit their fertility, including voluntary sterilization.
George W. Bush has vetoed Federal funding directed toward family planning in third world countries, saying that the funding is used to support the killing of infants in China. His claim is false.
164 V. The Political Community
A.) Basic Freedoms and Human Rights-We hold governments responsible for…the guarantee of the rights to adequate food, clothing, shelter, education, and health care.
Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress have cut funding for social programs that guarantee these rights and diverted it toward war and huge tax cuts for corporations and the super-wealthy.
…We also strongly reject domestic surveillance and intimidation of political opponents by governments in power and all other misuse of elective or appointive offices. The use of detention and imprisonment for harassment and elimination of political opponents or other dissidents violates fundamental human rights. Furthermore the mistreatment or torture of persons by governments for any purpose violates Christian teaching and must be condemned and/or opposed by Christians and churches wherever and whenever it occurs. For the same reason, we oppose capital punishment and urge its elimination from all criminal codes.
The Bush administration, through the Patriot Act, has violated the constitutional freedoms of persons residing in the U.S., making it easier for the government to spy on and intimidate any opponents of this administration and its policies. Furthermore, the Bush administration has encouraged a climate in which any rightful opponents to their illegal and heinous actions are labeled as “unpatriotic” or “anti-American”. This climate has also lead to the harassment and torture of prisoners of war, sometimes consisting of physical and sexual abuse.
Finally, the Bush administration is a strong supporter of capital punishment.
C) Freedom of Information-Citizens of all countries should have access to all essential information regarding their government and its policies. Illegal and unconscionable activities directed against persons or groups by their own governments must not be justified or kept secret, even under the guise of national security.
As mentioned previously, Bush and his administration withheld, manipulated, and fabricated information in order to push the American people into an illegal war. This is clearly an unconscionable activity directed against us by our own government officials.
D) Education-We believe responsibility for education for the young rests with the family, the church , and the government. In our society , this function can best be fulfilled through public policies that ensure access for all persons to free public elementary and secondary schools and to post-secondary schools of their choice. Persons in our society should not be precluded by financial barriers…
Bush and Cheney, when campaigning for office, claimed that they would support education, but while they have been in office, funding for education has declined as a direct result of their irresponsible tax cuts for the super-wealthy, making it much more difficult for poorer people to receive quality educations. They also support the use of education vouchers, which The United Methodist Church is against.
F) Criminal and Restorative Justice. To protect all persons from encroachment upon their personal and property rights, governments have established mechanisms of law enforcement and courts…We reject all misuse of these mechanisms including their use for the purpose of revenge of for persecuting or intimidating those whose race, appearance, lifestyle, economic conditions, or beliefs differ from those in authority.
As Governor of the state with the most prisoner executions of any in the nation, George W. Bush was proud of his role in Texas’ judicial system and confident that it was unflawed. His reckless disregard for human life and his reliance on punitive measures has carried over into his role as President. Since 9/11, Bush’s idea of justice in all cases has been “hunt them down and make them pay”, even toward those who have not been proven guilty, such as the thousands of Iraqi and Afghani civilians killed by our military or the hundreds of prisoners of war who have been harassed, abused, or held without charges or access to counsel, clearly violating international law.
G) Military Service-We deplore war and urge the peaceful settlement of all disputes among nations.
…We also respect those who support the use of force, but only in extreme situations and only when the need is clear beyond reasonable doubt, and though appropriate international organizations.
This was a unilateral war in which the Bush administration ignored both the United Nations and a vast segment of the American people who opposed the war.
165 VI. The World Community
C) War and Peace-We believe war is incompatible with the teachings and example of Christ. We therefore reject war as a usual instrument of national foreign policy and insist that the first moral duty of all nations is to resolve by peaceful means every dispute that arises between or among them; that human values must outweigh military claims as governments determine their priorities; that the militarization of society must be challenged and stopped; that the manufacture, sale, and deployment of armaments must be reduced and controlled; and that the production, possession, or use of nuclear weapons be condemned. Consequently, we endorse general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.
Bush and Cheney have used war as a usual instrument of foreign policy. They are for the militarization of society. They advocate the production of yet more nuclear weapons, so-called “usable nukes” or “bunker busters”. The only disarming they want to occur is the disarmament of nations that they have labeled as “evil”. Ironically, this disarmament had already occurred in Iraq through “strict and effective international control”, but Bush and Cheney still insisted that unilateral war was absolutely necessary.
D) Justice and Law. …Believing that international justice requires the participation of all peoples, we endorse the United Nations and its related bodies and the International Court of Justice as the best instruments now in existence to achieve a world of justice and law.
Again, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney ignored the U.N. and violated international law in their push to go to war with Iraq.
We, the undersigned, are also very much disturbed by President Bush’s many references to the significance of Christian faith in the decisions that he has made as President of the United States. George W. Bush has called Jesus his “favorite philosopher”, said that Jesus changed his life, and that his decisions are often guided by prayer. In fact, we feel that most of his actions as president have directly contradicted the philosophy of Jesus. Jesus said to feed, clothe, and shelter the “least of these”, not to starve, strip, and bomb them.
We are also concerned that the respondents seem completely ignorant of their denomination’s stances on many weighty moral issues and have consistently ignored the advice and pleadings of their own Council of Bishops. We, the undersigned, recognize that the Methodist tradition is founded on both support and accountability. Our leaders and our members have tried to support the respondents with prayers and petitions, but we fear it has been to no avail. At this point, we cannot be expected to “encourage and enjoin obedience to the powers that be” (2000 Discipline, p.66) when they are reckless and irresponsible with power given them by our democratic process.
Now is the time to hold them accountable, or to be judged ourselves by God for not doing so.