Bill Mefford, director of civil and human rights at the UMC’s Washington office, used the March for Life last week to mock the event with a sign and picture he posted on Twitter, saying, “I march for sandwiches.” Many are upset that a church leader used a solemn event to liken an unborn baby to a sandwich.
The next day, UMC Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, general secretary general on the Board of Church & Society, issued a statement about Mefford’s “march”:
Affirming human dignity is central to the witness of Jesus Christ. Christians are called to watch over with care the lives of all persons and creation. We must strive to lead by example through our words and actions. We seek Christian compassion when we fall short in our actions with one another.
A recent action involving a staff member of GBCS did not reflect our culture of respect, openness and hospitality. Appropriate conversations and action have been taken. We at GBCS recognize the special responsibility we have to cultivate respect, trust and hospitality among those who hold a variety of opinions on social issues.
Henry-Crowe is speaking out of both sides of her mouth when she insists the UMC affirms human dignity while likewise having a culture of “openness.” It’s so open, in fact, that it is open to abortion.
The UMC is a longstanding member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), which, put simply, is Planned Parenthood with a twist of God.
The UMC General Board of Church and Society, Henry-Crowe’s office, is the very branch of the UMC that participates on the front lines with the RCRC. Her statement neglects to note that they give money to and support the RCRC, which vocally and blatantly advocates for abortion right and Roe v. Wade being upheld.
Lest anyone think that’s just a fringe belief of a few in the UMC, it takes only a look at the official church document to see the advocacy of abortion is clear. The UMC’s Book of Discipline actually says that life and death are in our hands, and abortion is permitted. The same document is copied to the UMC page, where the UMC lists its stance on various social issues:
The beginning of life and the ending of life are the God-given boundaries of human existence. While individuals have always had some degree of control over when they would die, they now have the awesome power to determine when and even whether new individuals will be born.
But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother and the unborn child.
We recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures by certified medical providers.
No words of regret for abortion can be counteracted by statements that say we are able to decide life and death. The UMC has never pretended to be pro-life. In fact, in Texas, “the healthcare group affiliated with the UMC, the Methodist Healthcare Ministries gave Planned Parenthood $443.000.”
Thus, to see a leader in the denomination making a joke of death, hosting a sarcastic sign, and pretending it was all in good fun is not really a surprise.
It is, however, a shame. As one story notes:
A great proportion of the pro-life marchers are young people. They are volunteers, unpaid and untrained. Mefford, on the other hand, is a grown man, one whose actual job is to represent Christians in the public square. How is it, then, that if we compare Mefford and the young marchers, the adolescents are the ones who come out looking like adults?
Mefford apologized and insisted it was a joke and part of his sense of humor, that he meant no harm. But one reader, David Fischer, responded:
Ask yourself this: how would you have responded if the marchers in Ferguson or New York this past fall had been met with mockery? I suspect you would not have appreciated it. Even if one disagreed with them, the seriousness of the situation demanded respect. Same with the March for Life.
If he had mocked the marchers at either of those places, Mefford probably would have been fired.
But he wasn’t, because his organization stands with him. Mefford may have deleted his Twitter account, but this isn’t the cause of one random joke gone bad. It was a statement of the UMC on the issue of abortion, which allows for the rights of the woman, but not the child.