IRD: How Dare Methodists Include Buddhist and Shinto Groups in Japan Memorial Service

Apparently, even a prayer service for the thousands of people deceased and missing in Japan is a reason for the far-right Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) to bash mainline Protestants.

When the Church Center of the United Nations hosted an interfaith “Gathering for Prayer and Hope” in the wake of the deadly earthquake and tsunami to hit Japan to “provide us with the spiritual encouragement and strength to overcome this time of suffering together,” according to Rev. T. K. Nakagaki. But the IRD, a Religious Right organization that is always looking for opportunities to attack mainline Protestant churches, took umbrage at the event and said that the Church Center, which is owned by the Untied Methodist Church, should have disinvited Buddhist and Shinto leaders and guests. While the vast majority of people in Japan identify as Buddhist or Shinto, Mark Tooley of the IRD claims that the Methodist group hosting the gathering should have excluded such groups from participating:

“The original purpose was to be a Methodist and Christian witness to and at the United Nations,” says Tooley. “A number of other denominations also have offices in the building, and there is a chapel there as well. Of course, following the drift of agencies of the United Methodist Church and of mainline Protestantism, and especially of the often very radical Methodist women’s division, the building’s political witness and spiritual emphases are — as to be expected — often very far left and not orthodox.”

Tooley says the United Methodist Church has significantly strayed from its Christian heritage.

“Having the Buddhist cleric lead the service at the Church Center of the United Nations certainly illustrates how the Methodist and Christian witness of that ministry there is so watered down as to be almost unrecognizably Christian,” comments the IRD president.