WASHINGTON (AP) -- Though the United Methodist Church has lost members and influence nationwide over recent decades, the Bush era is a ''Methodist moment'' in the nation's capital, a conservative religious caucus says.
George W. Bush, a convert to the denomination, is the first Methodist president since William McKinley, and First Lady Laura Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and wife Lynne are Methodists as well, the conservative Institute on Religion and Democracy notes.
Other ranking Methodists include White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card (whose wife Kathleene is a Methodist minister), Commerce Secretary Don Evans, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and Republican National Committee chairman (and Virginia Gov.) James Gilmore. In the new Congress, the total of Methodists has increased from 59 to 65.
Meanwhile, the conservative caucus says, ''the United Methodist Board of Church and Society is the largest church lobby office in Washington and is very liberal politically.''
The board's head, Jim Winkler, has written Bush assailing the cutoff of funds to international organizations that promote abortions. The Methodist board provides support to lobbies that favor abortion choice, civil rights and gun limits.
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