The petition includes the signatures of two current and eight retired bishops out of about 170 current and retired bishops worldwide. Five other Methodist ministers also signed.
In one day, the online petition drew more than 4,000 names. While many signed in jest, comments from others show the petition became a touchstone for feelings about President Bush. Some key Methodist clergy and campus leaders quickly denounced the petition, saying it didn't represent the views of a majority of Methodists.
The petition itself reads:
As United Methodists, we believe that the linking of his presidency with a university bearing the Methodist name is utterly inappropriate.
It seems to me that if George Bush has not conducted himself as a United Methodist should, a first step should be to put him on trial in a church court. If convicted, then the petitioners would be correct.
¶ 2702.3 of The Book of Discipline (2004) reads:
A professing member of a local church may be charged with the following offenses, and, if so, may choose a trial: (a) immorality; (b) crime; (c) disobedience to the Order and Discipline of the United Methodist Church; (d) dissemination of doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrine of The United Methodist Church; (d) sexual abuse; (f) sexual misconduct; (g) child abuse; (h) harassment, including, but not limited to racial and/or sexual harassment; (i) racial or gender discrimination; or (j) relationships and/or behaviors that undermine the ministry of persons serving within an appointment.
¶ 2703.4 describes judicial process specific to the laity:
In all cases, the pastor or district superintendent should take pastoral steps to resolve any complaints. If such pastoral response does not result in resolution and a written complaint is made against the professing member for any of the offenses in ¶ 2702.3, the pastor in charge or co-pastors (¶ 205.1) of the local church, in consultation with the district superintendent and the district lay leader, may appoint a committee on investigation consisting of four professing members and three clergy in full connection (both clergy and professing members must come from other congregations, exclusive of the churches of the respondent or the complainant). Committee members shall be in good standing and should be deemed of good character. The committee should reflect racial, ethnic, and gender diversity. When the pastor in charge is (or co-pastors are) bringing the charge, the district superintendent, in consultation with the district lay leader, shall appoint the committee on investigation. Five members shall constitute a quorum.
¶ 2705.4 details how the complaint process shall proceed for a layperson and ¶ 2714 describes the trial of a layperson.
So if the petitioners think that Bush has failed to be a faithful United Methodist, they should initiate this process.
So, a few questions for my readers:
- Why has The Book of Discipline never been put online? I have to type out all of this stuff whenever I quote the BoD.
- Should George Bush be prosecuted in the church courts?
- And if so, on what basis?