Mighty mighty Methodists

methodist comics collageTime‘s Jay Newton-Small reports on presidential aspirant Fred Thompson’s work in Iowa. Though he’s trailing behind Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, Thompson is gaining some traction by offering himself up as the true conservative in the race:

Thompson firmly believes he can play well with Evangelicals, sapping votes from their current favorite, Huckabee. He has been on the attack — trying to show holes in Huckabee’s record both in press interviews and in a mailing that went out last week that accuses Huckabee of being weak on immigration. . . .

Thompson is also hoping endorsements from the National Right to Life Committee and the Wesleyan Center for Strategic Studies, an umbrella group for 40 million conservative Methodists across the U.S., will help him in Iowa.

I didn’t even know there were 40 million Methodists in the country, much less 40 million conservative ones. That’s pretty impressive. And wildly untrue. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette religion editor Frank Lockwood notes:

The news has got to cheer Thompson, who trails in the polls. But it will perplex statisticians. According to the New York Times Almanac, there are only 13 million Methodists in the entire country — and that includes the liberals …

It says something about how out of touch some reporters are when they can identify a group that’s not exactly a household name as representing such a large group. This whole religion landscape must really be a mystery to some reporters.

The art shows Methodist superheroes — including Superman (according to Adherents.com).

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  • Hans

    Oh, come on, only 4 Lutheran comic book superheroes? And only one of them looks like a real Superhero! What a bummer.

  • Dale

    I didn’t even know there were 40 million Methodists in the country, much less 40 million conservative ones.

    They’re in stealth mode.

    The link to the comic book characters’ religious affiliations reveals that comic book authors don’t get religion, either. There is a Presbyterian(?!) hero named Penance, whose motivational backstory is as follows:

    Baldwin commissioned the creation of an armored suit lined with 612 inward-pointing spikes – one spike for each of the people who died in the Stamford incident, and whose deaths Baldwin now feels responsible for. The spikes continually rake Baldwin’s skin, causing him pain that allows him to trigger his modified super-powers.

    The spikes that torment Baldwin’s body while he wear’s this suit of armor his way of taking responsibility for and “doing penance” for the hundreds of Stamford deaths. Baldwin’s attempt to atone for his actions (and the actions of his deceased teammates) in such a pointedly Calvinist way is especially poignent given his Presbyterian upbringing.

    Having been raised a Presbyterian, I can state unequivocally that neither penance nor wearing a spiked unitard are parts of Calvinist practice.

    More realistic would be “The Committee”, a group of heroes who can endlessly defer actions by assigning them for consideration to an infinite regression of sub-committees and sub-sub committees, with the end result that the villains can’t accomplish anything and give up trying.

    The Committee will seem like a group of ordinary Presbyterians, until it unleashes its power by referring to Robert’s Rules of Order.

  • http://fatherjohn.blogspot.com/ Fr. John Whiteford

    It may well be that they mean 40 million members of denominations that are rooted in the Wesleyan tradition, and they may also be including members outside the United States. In any case, they did indeed get it a bit mixed up.

  • Dennis Colby

    What a shame. “40 Million Methodists Can’t Be Wrong!” would be a great campaign slogan.

  • Chris Bolinger


    Presbyterians are no more bureaucratic than the other denominations of which I have been a part. The Committee should be an interdenominational group of superheroes. It can be led by a Christian version of Action Item: http://professionalsuperhero.com/.

  • http://dallasfirstumc.org Steve Schofield

    There are almost 80 million Christians worldwide who follow the Wesleyan tradition – AME, AME Zion, Nazarene, e.g. (see World Methodist Council), however I am sad to say that there are not 40 million found in the United States. (many denominations in the Pentecostal tradition have been influenced by the theology of John Wesley also). As a United Methodist Minister, I am excited to find out that Superman is a Methodist (you never know what you might learn on this blog).

  • Jerry

    Speaking about the MSM getting things wrong, I was a bit bemused the other day to read in a computer magazine which has, in essence, also been said here. In effect, we have an indictment of how the MSM works in general. “;Login:”,page 93: http://www.sagecertification.org/publications/login/2007-12/openpdfs/Security07summaries.pdf

    The mainstream media often get technical stories wrong, and get them wrong repeatedly, because their reporters are not technically adept, are looking for scare stories, and are trying to get the newspaper equivalent of ratings. He was there to talk about why this isn’t true for those in the reporting industry that work at the top of the game, and that it truly is possible to write about these issues without hype.

    Schwartz jumped right into his views of the reporting industry, his values when reporting a technical story, trends in the newspaper industry, and general advice on getting a story reported correctly. One of his mottos is “Dare to be dull.” He believes it is important to cover what is most important and that it will get out to the public even if it is not the front-page story. He acknowledges that some journalists are aiming to write “sensational” pieces, and he advises us to avoid them. Instead, find those journalists who hold the old-fashioned concept of “serving the reader.”

    As the floor was opened to questions, one questioner asked about those doing the fact-checking for technical articles, as it seems that many of them are not very accurate. Schwartz commented that some publications tend to push journalists to write too much and too fast. He is also stunned by what he sees as lack of attention to detail and lack of caring. His advice is to figure out who in the industry gets it right… In response to a question about how it seems reporters always want to give the other side of the story equal weight, even if one side of the story is obviously more accurate, Schwartz said that he believed that everyone affected by a story needs to be in it. Nonetheless, he added, there is a tendency in the media to equate balance with equal weight. He says many reporters don’t reflexively understand the distinction, but a good reporter needs to understand this.