A group of social activists in the United Methodist Church has charged that a movement of evangelicals in the denomination represents "the presence and influence of the new far right."
That charge is leveled against the conservative group that calls itself Good News, the Forum for Scriptural Christianity Within the United Methodist Chruch, by the Methodist Federation for Social Action. Neither is an official group of the denomination.
According to the MFSA, the leaders of Good News "have as their goal nothing less than to negate the church's commitment to socila justice and to align the denomination with reactionary tendencies, both theologically and politically."
In its analysis, the MFSA report links Good News positions on such matters as the death penalty, abortion, homosexual rights, and racial and economic quotas with those of what it calls the far right.
With regard to theology, the report claims that Good News leaders exemplify "a rigid, traditional fundamentalism" involving biblical literalism and intolerance toward nonfundamentalists.
The MFSA report concludes with a challenge to the United Methodist Church to "make it clear that a divisive sectariansim which sets out militantly to 'save' us all, which condemns nonfundamentalists as humanists, which employs distortions, confrontations, McCarthyism and witchhunts to get its way, and which would align the church with those who 'rob the poor and crush the afflicted' simply is out of step with the spirit of Christ as United Methodists have come to understand it."
Dr. Charles Keysor of Wilmore, Ky., editor of Good News magazine, told Religious News Service in a telephone interview that he had not seen the MFSA report. But on the basis of its conclusions as read to him, he commented that "there's no absolute left or right that can be defined in a scientific sense."
According to Keysor, "the church is much healthier when opposing points of view on social and political matters were presented." While he agreed that analyzing printed material issued by Good News was a "valid research technique," he expressed disappointment that the MFSA had declined an invitation to dialogue with Good News leaders before issuing its report.