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By Matt Hamilton, IRD Intern

Former United Methodist lobbyist Thom White Wolf Fasset preached at prominent Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C. on July 1.  Called “Generous Redemption: A Journey beyond Fear,” the sermon was more of a political rally. The best part of the speech was probably the title, which Fasset should get credit for as it does sounds rather catchy. After that though, the speech was pretty much a steady descent downhill.

Judging by the title, one could be forgiven for assuming that the speech would have something to do with God’s redemption. But other than a brief retelling of going from humble beginnings to being a political… excuse me, to being a religious speaker, Fasset curiously left God out of the speech entirely.

As general secretary of the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society on Capitol Hill for 12 years, Fassett was the controversial chief political spokesman for the United Methodist Church until 2000.

Fasset talked at length about “the poor and the lost,” pregnant women who need help, convicts in prisons, the homeless, child poverty, malnourished kids in India, LGBTs being ostracized by churches, etc. Then there was his condemnation of Christians who witness such misery and injustices but do nothing and prefer “willful blindness” so that they don’t have to help those in need.

“We see the pain and we do nothing about it, we are willfully blind.”

At this point I figured Fasset would say something about what Christians should be doing and tell his audience to volunteer to feed the poor, take care of the children in India, be foster parents, engage in prison ministries, something like that. He didn’t say any of that though. He didn’t challenge his audience to do one single thing.

Fassett didn’t bother saying anything about how he thinks people should be redeemed, or what role the church has in redemption, or what role God has in redemption. So exactly why “generous redemption” is part of the speech’s title is a bit of a mystery.

For that matter, “the journey beyond fear” from the title also seemed completely disconnected from the content of the speech. Exactly what there was to be afraid of was never really addressed. One statement about fear Fassett did make might was a little bit revealing:

“Freedom from fear will influence who will live in the White House, who adopts humanitarian legislation in the Senate, in the House of Representatives, who rules justly in the Supreme Court.”

I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that Fassett was not suggesting that conservatives and Republicans should live in the White House, or be in Congress, or rule from the Supreme Court. Previously, when I said that Fasset didn’t challenge his audience to do anything, I suppose I lied. He did insinuate that they should re-elect Obama, that they should elect liberal Democrats to Congress because conservative Republicans aren’t humanitarian, and that they should work to get liberals in the Supreme Court because conservatives can’t rule justly.

Playing to that political theme, Fasset also found the time to stump his support for Obamacare, throw support behind amnesty for illegal immigrants, condemn Israel, blame the Jews for Hamas’ practice of indiscriminately firing rockets against Israeli civilian populations, and mention that the Inuit shouldn’t take rides in oil company helicopters.

All Fasset really advocated for in his speech was political activism. So apparently, “generous redemption” comes from the government, not from God. Given his politicized remarks, Fassett’s call for “forsaking the false prophets of today’s secular altars” was ironic indeed.