Saturday, April 26, 2008

Free Cell Phones - The Price?

Interesting things are going on in our church.

If you're familiar with UMAction, you're probably familiar with the IRD. The IRD is the Institute on Religion and Democracy. They have been prominent in influencing General Conference by sending out materials and taking positions on generally conservative issues. They want to return the church to a more conservative mindset, focused on the sole authority of the Bible.

I get stuff in the mail from them all of the time. I do actually read it, just to know what they're saying. But I am always stressed out by it, and I become very frustrated at what is being sent out in the name of my church, because I do not agree with their exclusive mindset.

Well, word has gotten out at GC that the IRD has given free cell phones to the Central Conference delegates, along with printed information of who the IRD would like to see as members of the Judicial Council.

I'm sorry, but that sounds like bribery to me. Call it what you want, but if it looks like a duck and quacks (or rings...) like a duck, then it's probably a duck.

There was an article in the DCA that called the IRD on this. It was balanced - it had interviews from Central conference delegates who did not feel that they had been influenced in their vote, and others who did not accept the phones because they did not want their vote to be bought.

This morning in the session, someone made a motion that the 2012 GC Commission would study and present information regarding, basically, an Ethics Committee for the General Conference, a body to review issues like this, as there currently is nothing of the sort.

I think there is going to be some serious backlash to the IRD as a result of this. When the person made the motion and the bishop asked for a second, there was an overwhelming response. I will be interested to see where this goes.


Anonymous said...

So you are led to believe that these faithful delegates could somehow have their vote "bought" by the temporary use of a cell phone? I hope you have more faith in the hearts of the faithful.

The truth is that, unlike every delegate from the United States, the delegates of the Central Conference are at a disadvantage when it comes to communication. Their cell phones simply do not work here. Providing them with phones gives them the same opportunity to communicate that the local (US) delegates have.

As way of distributing information on endorsed candidates - I was unaware that other groups do not also have lists of candidates they endorse. Of course they do! Distributing information on endorsements is a valid and vital part of the voting process. There is no way for anyone to really get to know the candidates otherwise. Just as IRD endorses candidates so do groups from the other end of the theological spectrum. This information helps everyone to make informed decisions instead of voting from a blind list of names.

Rachel said...

Yes, I agree that distributing lists of approved candidates is a right of any caucus group, but it does not need to be in conjunction with selective gifts. The fact of the matter is that UMAction/Good News, and the other organizations that promote the conservative agenda specifically pointed out the central conference delegates and gifted them with a gift and AT THE SAME TIME suggested ways for them to vote. COSROW has made a statement, from the monitors, declaring this inappropriate. Had they simply gifted the Central Conference Delegates with cell phones, that would be fine. Had they simply published a list of their suggested candidates, that would be fine. Had they done both exclusive from one another, that would be fine. But that they did them in conjunction with one another smells fishy to me. We preach in our plenary sessions for truth and justice and openness, to set aside our agendas for the good of the order, and when we step outside of the arena, we forget everything we talked about. We are called to be ethical people.