A Martyr?

By Walter Fenton

martyr | ˈmärtər |


* a person who is killed because of their religious or other beliefs: saints, martyrs, and witnesses to the faith.

* a person who displays or exaggerates their discomfort or distress in order to obtain sympathy or admiration: he wanted to play the martyr.

martyrs_wanted“God is looking for 8 more martyrs,” according to the Rev. Mike Tupper of the West Michigan Annual Conference.

Tupper, who had a complaint filed against him for presiding at his daughter’s same-sex wedding in August 2014, makes the audacious claim in a recent blog post that he’s a martyr. According to Tupper, the Rev. Frank Schaefer, defrocked, re-frocked, and now serving in sunny Santa Barbara, California, is also a martyr. Eight more, he says, would round it out to the ten God is actually looking for.

The goal of ten martyrs comes from one of Tupper’s friends who said, “Ten pastors will have to be defrocked before the UMC changes its stance toward gays.”

Tupper’s claim to “martyrdom” for presiding as his daughter’s wedding is flat out fraudulent. Bishop Deborah Kiesey of the Michigan Episcopal Area signed off on a “just resolution” in his case requiring the retired Tupper to:

“[W]ork with the Michigan Area Episcopal Office to form a design team with clergy and lay persons form across the Michigan Area, including LGBTQ persons. The team is charged with planning, implementation and resourcing an area-wide series of events using a ‘Truth and Reconciliation’ model at which LGBTQ and other interested United Methodists can have a safe place to tell their stories. These events will have the stated goal of reducing our church’s harmful rhetoric and actions toward LGBTQ persons. Bishop Kiesey will extend an invitation to all lay and clergy from across the Michigan Area (including conference and district leaders) to participate in stated events, and to encourage participation by persons of all theological perspectives.”

It’s not entirely clear who was actually being martyred here: Tupper, or the Michigan Area clergy who would have preferred to be doing something else other than responding to the good bishop’s “invitation” to the “truth and reconciliation” gatherings. We’re not making this up.

Not surprisingly, Tupper also presided at the Rev. Benjamin David Hutchinson’s same-sex wedding in Cassopolis, Michigan. Hutchinson, as regular readers of Perspective will recall, was the clergyman forced to resign as the pastor of the Cassopolis UM Church. A complaint was filed against Tupper, and he now says, “I’m willing to go to trial and lose my credentials.”

Losing his ministerial credentials in the UM Church, if it should even come to that, is not akin martyrdom. Like so many things in our (post)-modern world, martyrdom’s just not what it used to be. Unless…

You’re a Christian living in Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Sudan, or a host of other countries. Martyrdom, in these places, is still done the old-fashioned way, it requires your very life for tenaciously clinging to the core principles of the Christian faith.

Tupper’s careless and thoughtless rhetoric demeans the memory, courage, and sacrifice of the true heroes who have lost their lives in the name of Jesus Christ under the bloody cloak of martyrdom.

Walter Fenton is a United Methodist clergyperson and analyst for Good News. 

 To see the article by Rev. Mike Tupper, click HERE.


  1. Ian McDonald says

    Maybe the Detroit Annual Conference and West Michigan Annual Conference. should stop this senseless disobedience to the authority of scripture and to the Book of Discipline and acknowledge who the real martyr’s are in the world today and actually do something for them!!!! What we do to the least of our brothers and sisters we do to Jesus, and right now some politically minded self aggrandizing elders are doing a good job of ignoring their plight and Jesus all at the same time. And what is Rev. Mike Tupper doing making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world or taking part in the politically popular thing that is currently trending.

  2. Joe Mireur says

    Martyr? In the sense that this type of martyr is dead to me, I suppose. Zombie martyr anyone?

  3. Mike Tupper admitted that one goal of the gay agenda movement is “to bring tension and pain to our denomination”. Give these folks credit, they have certainly accomplished that — which, in itself, seems to be an admission that this movement is based on the very thing they to deplore — HATE. Now, this martyrdom theme is a new twist — and probably the most outrageous assertion to date in a long list of outrageous assertions. This whole movement has been based on untruth and deception from day one. Bottom line, Mike Tupper and all his folks, over these forty plus years, have yet to bring forth one example of Scripture that approves, condones, or in any way recognizes “same-sex marriage” and/or the practice of homosexual sex as non-sinful.

  4. We have been requesting the LGBTQ etc. provide a scripture for their approval and acceptance of their sin; just one scripture and it has not to this date been offered. If their agenda is not Matthew 28:19; a new question arises why are they attempting to be in the body of CHRIST? I think the answer is clear, they wish to have the church justify their sin as the world has. When the church reflects the morals, agendas of the world then we are no longer the church. May GOD help us stay faithful to reflect the love, forgiveness and the truth of Scripture.

  5. Well stated!

  6. Douglas Hulslander says

    They’ve managed to re-define what marriage is. They’re working diligently on re-defining what it means to be a Christian. Why not re-define martyr? The LGBTQ movement may want to also go by the “re-defining movement”.

  7. Catherine Dance says

    Let go. Let be. Let God. Let Growth. God is love and s/he who abides in Love abides in God and God in her/him.

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