From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Racism committee, bishop respond to Lott

From "NewsDesk" <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Thu, 19 Dec 2002 15:13:59 -0600

Dec. 19, 2002	News media contact: Linda Bloom7(212) 870-38037New York

By United Methodist News Service

A committee charged with addressing repentance for racism within the United
Methodist Church and the denomination's Washington-based bishop have issued
public responses to controversial remarks made by U.S. Sen. Trent Lott.

During a recent 100th birthday celebration for Sen. Strom Thurmond of South
Carolina, Lott made laudatory comments about Thurmond's 1948 presidential
campaign, which had a platform of racial segregation. Although he later
apologized for those remarks, a growing number of politicians have criticized
the Republican senator from Mississippi, including U.S. Secretary of State
Colin Powell and Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, both prominent Republicans.

During its 2000 General Conference, the United Methodist Church held a
worship service to recognize and atone for its own institutional racism over
the years and encouraged its membership to be involved in further "Acts of
Repentance and Reconciliation for Racism."

Meeting Dec. 17 in Cincinnati, the denomination's Acts of Repentance advisory
committee issued a public statement pointing out how the situation with Lott
demonstrates the need for "actual change" on issues of racism.

"Sen. Lott provides one more example of persons who offer apologies and
statements of repentance that seem hollow in the light of prejudicial actions
and the advocacy of discrimination," the committee said. "However, in the
season of Advent, we live with the conviction that God works for good in
people's lives and hope that the incident can help the nation confront the
reality of racism every present in the lives of the American people."

The advisory committee is sponsored by the United Methodist Commission on
Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns.

United Methodist Bishop Felton Edwin May wants Lott to step down as Senate
majority leader. "The views in Sen. Lott's pronouncement represent a pool of
racial bigotry just below our national veneer of racial harmony," May said in
a Dec. 13 statement. "The idea that any leader in the United States
government can hold office and support segregationist opinions is offensive
and totally unacceptable. Sen. Lott should resign as majority leader."

May, who leads the United Methodist Church's Washington Area, noted that the
denomination considers racism a sin. "Sen. Lott's comments are insensitive at
best and espouse a point of view that the United Methodist Church finds

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United Methodist News Service
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