If you are a conservative, pro-life United Methodist in Iowa I have to wonder who is representing you? The Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church has 10 registered lobbyists at the Iowa Statehouse. It is odd for me as an evangelical to see a denomination have registered lobbyists especially at the state level. Typically evangelical lobbying is done with independent organizations that specialize on specific issues. That may not be true in other states, but that seems to be the case in Iowa.
I will note the lobbyists registered are not paid staff with the Conference, but it is interesting to note five of the ten are retired pastors. They are:
- Brian Carter – affiliated with Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Urbandale.
- Gary Nims – affiliated with Grace United Methodist Church in Des Moines
- Walden Paige – affiliated with Hope United Methodist Church in Marshalltown
- William Steward – affiliated with Grace United Methodist Church in Des Moines.
- Bob Ward – affiliated with Waukee United Methodist Church and Ankeny First United Methodist Church.
I can’t go through the entirety of bills they have registered on, but here is a snapshot of how, taking their cues from the Bishop, they registered on bills related to topics of interest for our readers.
- HF 5/SSB 1025 – They oppose a bill that eliminates a requirement that taxpayers list whether they have health coverage for their dependent children on their tax returns.
- HF 7 – They oppose a bill that would allow an exemption from required vaccinations based on personal conviction.
- HF 27 – They support a bill that would give resident status to the children of illegal immigrants for the purpose of paying tuition and fees at state universities and community colleges.
- HF 43/SF 94 – They are against a bill would allow 16 and 17-year-olds to work in laundry facilities.
- HF 44/SF 154 – They support a bill that basically says state categorical growth (for school funding) will be 4 percent if the Governor’s budget is not acted on in 30 days after it is submitted.
- HF 51 – They support a bill that raises the maximum amount a family can make and still receive state child care assistance from 145 percent of federal poverty level to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. For example a family of three whose household income is just over $40,000 would be considered eligible.
- HF 63 – They support a bill that requires an environmental impact study for anyone applying for a permit to construct, maintain or operate a hazardous liquid pipeline.
- HF 70 – They support a bill that would ban ammunition magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds.
- HF 73 – They support a bill that would require any individual who sells or trades a firearm to obtain verification from a federally licensed firearms dealer that criminal background check has been done and submitted to the department of public safety.
- HF 76 – They support an increase in the local option sales tax to fund local natural resources and outdoor recreation projects.
- HF 79 – They support a bill that would restore voting rights and the right to hold office to ex-convicts.
- HF 81 – They support a bill that would repeal a declaration that English is the official language of the state of Iowa.
- HF 88/SF 73 – They support a bill that would add “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the elements defining hate crimes in the state of Iowa.
- HF 93/SF 74 – They support a bill that would prohibit mental health providers from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with patients under the age of 18.
- HF 100 – They oppose a bill that would nullify Environmental Protection Agency regulations in the state.
- HF 105 – They support a bill that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $11.00 per hour by 2020.
- HF 118/SF 130 – They opposed the apportionment bill for FY 2017.
- HF 136 – They opposed a bill that would only increase the state supplemental aid for schools for next school year by 1.11 percent.
- HSB 67 – They oppose a bill that would restrict cities, counties and school districts from passing sanctuary policies that would restrict the enforcement of federal immigration law.
- HSB 84/SF 213 – They oppose collective bargaining reform.
- SF 2 – They oppose the reallocation of family planning money away from abortion providers and to federally qualified health centers.
- SF 23 /SF 147 – They oppose a bill that would not allow the release of personally identifiable information of gun permit holders.
- SF 25 – They oppose a bill that allows justifiable use of force, including deadly force, against those who commit or who are about to commit a violent felony when they reasonably believe their life or the life of those around them is in danger. It also does not require those who are not engaged in illegal activity to retreat. This is basically a stand your ground bill.
- SF 26 – They oppose a bill that would allow a woman to sue abortion providers at any time during the life of the woman due to a physical injury or emotional distress caused by an abortion as the result of the negligence of the physician or the failure to obtain informed consent.
- SF 27 – They oppose a bill that would ban the use of taxpayer money for health insurance coverage, health benefits or health services that include coverage for abortion.
- SF 29 – They oppose a bill that would create education savings accounts.
- SF 38 – They oppose a bill that would abolish the individual income tax in favor of an increased sales tax and use tax rates.
- SF 53 – They oppose a bill that would implement a 20-week abortion ban.
- SF 70 – They oppose a castle doctrine bill.
- SF 82 – They oppose the reduction of the inheritance tax and future repeal of the state inheritance tax.
- SF 98 – They support a bill that would expand the preschool program to include certain 5-year-old children.
- SF 103 – They oppose the repeal of the inheritance tax and state qualified-use inheritance tax.
- SF 105 – They support a bill that mandates employers provide paid pre-natal leave for expecting mothers.
- SF 108 – They oppose a law that would remove the state ban on carrying and possessing machine guns, short-barreled rifle and short-barreled shotgun provided the person is in compliance with federal law.
- SF 138 – They support a bill requiring quarterly visits by school officials or mandatory reporters to homeschooling families.
- SF 145 – They are opposed to a bill that would eliminate the annual requirement of an annual permit to acquire a pistol or revolver.
- SF 146 – They are opposed to a bill that allows carry permit holders to have weapons in the parking lots of school grounds.
- SF 156 – They support a bill that would raise the minimum wage by the same percentage as federal social security increases.
- SF 172 – They are against a bill that would prohibit employers from knowingly employe illegal immigrants.
- SJR 2 – They are against the constitutional amendment allowing constitutional carry of firearms in Iowa.
This is not even remotely close to an exhaustive list. They have registered on far more bills than The FAMiLY Leader which is the multi-issue evangelical organization that lobbies at the Iowa Statehouse. Do these lobbyists represent United Methodists?
Not if you are concerned about illegal immigration they don’t. If you are concerned about law and order, forget it. If you don’t want roadblocks in exercising your inalienable right to defend yourself and your family, forget it. If you are pro-life, apparently the United Methodist Church in Iowa is not for you. If you are concerned about religious liberty and the LGBT agenda, forget about it. If you are a homeschooler in the United Methodist Church your conference supports public schools doing wellness checks on your family. If you are a small business owner they want you to have to pay more in wages and paid leave. Forget the fact they are not looking out for the taxpayer.
Basically on any given social issue you can depend upon them being a rubber stamp on legislation sponsored by liberals and against legislation sponsored by conservatives. They’ve even opposed collective bargaining reform, why in the world is a church weighing in on that?
Nationally the United Methodist Church has taken some positive steps toward fighting for a culture of life, but not in Iowa, the Conference is too busy worshipping at the altar of Moloch to notice.