Resolution 2021-01: “Condemning QAnon and Walking Alongside Its Victims”
General Church Budget Implications: None
East Ohio Conference Implications: Yes
QAnon is a dangerous conspiracy theory that is centered on unsubstantiated and antisemitic conspiracy theories, apocalyptic predictions, and false prophecies. Its addictive and salacious ideology has infiltrated our churches, ended relationships, torn apart families, and is a threat to the peace of the society in which we live. Yet those who have fallen prey to this “spiritual pandemic” require our compassion, respect, and empathy if they are to heal from the deep wounds QAnon has inflicted.
Whereas: a recent poll conducted by the conservative American Enterprise Institute found that 27% of white Evangelicals and 18% of white Catholics surveyed believe that QAnon theories are "mostly" or "completely" accurate. The poll also reported that QAnon has the support of 12% of non-Christians, 11% of Latino Catholics and 7% of Black Protestants;
Whereas: another survey by Denison University Political Science Professor Paul Djupe and colleagues, looked at a representative sample of more than 1,700 Americans and found that 50% of white evangelical Christians either “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with QAnon beliefs;
Whereas: ancient Romans spread rumors of the “Thyestean Banquets,” saying that Christians committed acts of incest and cannibalism at our communion rituals as a pretext for persecution;
Whereas: for centuries, Christians have spread racist canards that Jews were murdering children and secretly plotting to take over the world as a pretext for persecution;
Whereas: conspiratorial thinking is destructive to real people’s lives;
Whereas: QAnon is built upon the false teaching of Christian nationalism and the idea that God has chosen America as a new holy land and anointed America as God’s chosen people;
Whereas: QAnon is built on conspiracy theories, some of which are quite grotesque and antisemitic, and it often masquerades as a Christian “holy war;”
Whereas: QAnon employs spiritual language to appeal to Christians, yet takes the Lord’s name in vain in order to advance lies and a violent political ideology;
Whereas: QAnon injects transcendental meaning and purpose into the lives of regular folks every day, by convincing people they are central players in a war for the soul of America;
Whereas: conspiracy theories like QAnon have corroded the very fabric of family and friendships while defying the basic principles of Christianity;
Whereas: we are commanded not to bear false witness against our neighbors;
Whereas: Paul commands Timothy, “Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies, for you know they breed quarrels;”
Whereas: Mathew 24:4-5 says, “And Jesus answered them, ‘See that no one leads will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray;’”
Whereas: Christians have an incredible opportunity right now to be a witness to a deeply polarized society and the power Holy Spirit to help us maintain our unity (Ephesians 4:3) in the midst of our differing opinions.
Whereas: many ridicule and deride those who believe in QAnon, only driving them deeper into isolation and falsehood;
Therefore, be it resolved that the people of the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church renew our baptismal and confirmation vows “to reject evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever form they present themselves” by declaring that QAnon is incompatible with the Christian faith.
Therefore, be it further resolved that the people of the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church ask Bishop Tracy S. Malone to form a task group, led by a district superintendent and including both clergy and lay members of her choosing, to investigate the spread of QAnon in our congregations, present their findings to her, offer recommendations for means of accountability for clergy who spread QAnon from their pulpits, and offer recommendations for means of support for congregations and individuals who have been harmed by this destructive heresy.
Therefore, be it further resolved that the people of the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church ask our clergy to inform their congregations about the dangers of QAnon and urge those in their congregations to have empathy and compassion for those who have believed QAnon’s lies, walking beside them in humility and grace, knowing that we are all sinners who have been saved by grace.
Submitted by: Rev. Derek Kubilus, Bill Watts, East Ohio Methodist Federation for Social Action, East Ohio Reconciling Ministries Network, and the office of Multicultural Vitality.
Resolution 2021-02: “Covenant to Continue Our Work for Racial Justice”
General Church Budget Implications: None
East Ohio Conference Implications: Yes
On May 28, 2020, more than 700 East Ohio Conference clergy and laity signed an Anti-Racism Commitment and Covenant written by Bishop Tracy S. Malone in conjunction with the Extended Cabinet. The covenant expressed “repentance for our silence in the face of the racially motivated brutality that is pervasive throughout the nation.” In September, our 2020 Virtual Annual Conference passed Resolution 2020-01 by 91% affirmation: “A Call for East Ohio United Methodists to Address Racism in our Churches and Communities.” Have our communities – specifically the people and UMC churches of East Ohio completed our work in addressing racism? Racial justice (and injustices) have indeed been discussed, examined, and actions initiated. In short, we HAVE made progress, but we are not yet done with the work God calls us to do – as Christians, as United Methodists, and as our Wesleyan doctrines and heritage of social justice define and articulate.
Whereas: local, district, and Conference-wide studies using texts, videos, film, podcasts, etc. addressing aspects of racism were conducted throughout 2020, virtually and socially distanced;
Whereas: the “Resisting Racism” Facebook site initiated by social justice leadership in East Ohio has sustained multiple daily postings of resources, news items as they emerged, and provided a forum to educate, share information, and connect to others in and beyond our Conference;
Whereas: numerous local, district, and Conference-wide events, panels, actions, and “challenges” provided information and resources, and inspired events;
Whereas: East Ohio United Methodists in relationship to and in conjunction with other peoples of faith have studied, learned, and taken actions to broaden our collective understanding of the history of racism and race-specific harm throughout U.S. history;
Whereas: the people of the East Ohio UMC, along with others, have expanded our knowledge, understanding, and insight into racial injustice during the many initiatives inspired and offered in 2020;
Whereas: our collective engagement and energy has accomplished much towards the stated goal of resisting racism by efforts to understand its history, to recognize and celebrate previously under-recognized accomplishments of people of color, and to explore the residual impacts of racism and racial injustices on Black, Indigenous, and other people of color in Ohio communities and community resource distribution;
Therefore, be it resolved, now is NOT the time to abandon that work and its progress, but to sustain it and move to the next level that racial justice requires: repentance for the sins of ancestors (and ourselves where exposed and evident), because repentance is necessary for reconciliation, as a mean to and process of restorative justice, and what God has persistently called those who identify who ourselves as “the people of God” to do. Specifically:
- to continue studying, privately and in groups, to more-fully recognize under-acclaimed contributions of Black, Indigenous and people of color whose skills contributed to building America;
- to seek to recognize harm that has been done, whether by omission or commission, in our society as well as within ourselves, and even our churches, that has caused suffering and harm to and among our Black, Indigenous, and differently colored sisters and brothers;
- to examine our own biases that may have blinded or shielded us from seeing harm to which we have contributed (referenced March 2021 by Richard Rohr citing Brian McLaren);
- to acknowledge the sin of white privilege that separated or hoarded resources, segregating Black, Indigenous and people of color by word, thinking, or action;
- to reject the mindset and the sin of white supremacy;
- to seek healing by admitting our failure to love another as God has called us to, and as WE expect God to love us;
- to accept the freedom and power God gives us to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves;
- to denounce evidence and instances of police brutality, racial profiling against Black, Indigenous and people of color; and,
- to respect and work in our communities for “full protection of the civil rights for all of God’s children.”
And thus, we pray, as articulated in an African American lectionary:
“O Holy God have mercy and forgive us our shortcomings. Help us to remember our responsibility to our families and our neighbors, our stewardship to you, and the work you have given to our hands ... [so that we might] accept our responsibility as people of faith and leaders in our congregations, to work for the transformation of the world, our Church, and our communities. We covenant with each other, to learn, speak, and act in ways that lift-up and protect the rights and dignity of all of God’s people.”
Submitted by: East Ohio Methodist Federation for Social Action, East Ohio Reconciling Ministries Network, and the office of Multicultural Vitality.