Bud Kennedy

In Grapevine, a Tea Party leader says no to — Methodists?

Ever busy ridding Tarrant County of evil, a local Tea Party has found a new threat.

The co-founder and president of the NE Tarrant Tea Party has come out against Methodists.

Republicans should vote for a straitlaced fellow Southern Baptist instead of a Methodist for a vacant judgeship because Methodists believe “everything goes,” Tea Party co-founder and president Julie McCarty of Grapevine wrote on Facebook.

Arlington lawyer Don Hase, the Methodist, replied on his page: “ God does not want politicians spinning to the public.”

Hase is one of three candidates for County Criminal Court No. 1 along with Bedford lawyer David E. Cook, a Baptist, and current state District Judge Everett Young of Fort Worth, a Lutheran.

Both Hase and Young have been recommended by other Tea Party affiliates. A local bar association poll rates both as “well-qualified,” Cook only “qualified.”

Cook, not related to the Mansfield mayor with the same name, did not return a phone message Thursday.

He has written on social media that church denomination can be a “secondary” qualification.

McCarty declined comment Thursday but posted and then deleted a Facebook comment criticizing the United Methodist Church for having women as pastors and welcoming gay worshipers.

Co-founder of the Grapevine-based NE Tarrant Tea Party in 2009 as an offshoot of the Dallas Tea Party, she is described in an online biography as a lifelong Baptist who has led mission trips.

On Facebook, she wrote earlier this month that she saw pros and cons in both candidates, but “my con with Hase was that he is a Methodist. … Methodists tend not to take a stand on issues — anything goes.”

When the Rev. Denise A. Luper of Davis Memorial United Methodist Church in nearby North Richland Hills objected, McCarty replied, “Oh, lighten up. … My preference is a straitlaced Baptist to an everything-goes Methodist.”

Luper said Thursday she didn’t want Methodists stereotyped: “I don’t care what she says or who she votes for, but the statements she made were assumptions.”

McCarty’s Tea Party group had been meeting at Concordia Lutheran Church in Bedford but no longer does so, pastor Mark Lasch said.

The conflict was not the first between a Tea Party leader and Methodists.

In 2011, a Tea Party Nation leader complained about Methodism’s support of immigration reform and the DREAM Act legalizing children brought to the U.S. illegally. Judson Phillips said: “I have a ‘dream’ — that is, no more United Methodist Church.”

In Washington, Mark Tooley of the Christian conservative Instititute on Religion and Democracy said McCarty’s comment seems unfair: “Methodism is very liberal, but most Methodists are not nearly so liberal.”

At Southern Methodist University, political science professor Matthew Wilson writes and teaches on religion in politics.

“What makes this so much worse is that she attacked the candidate in startlingly denominational terms,” Wilson said.

“She didn’t say what’s right or good about Baptists — just what was wrong with another denomination. … It’s surprising because the religious right has tried to transcend religious boundaries.”

In a final Facebook comment, McCarty wrote: “Arguing with me is a waste of time.”

That’s the gospel truth.