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United Methodist conference seen as confusing even to God

Delegates at the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Ore., respond in prayer
Delegates at the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Ore., respond in prayer Wednesday (May 18) after hearing from Bishop Bruce Ough. RNS photo by Emily McFarlan Miller

PORTLAND, Ore. (RNS) The debate — over how to debate the rules — became so convoluted that at one point Missouri delegate Margie Briggs called for prayer and said:

“I believe we are confusing God at this point.”

Whether or not God was confused, many people were during the 11-day roller coaster ride that was the United Methodist Church’s General Conference, which ended Friday (May 20). It is held every four years to chart the course of the global denomination.

Which is no easy task. The 12 million United Methodists are divided geographically with around 7 million in the United States and many of the rest in Africa and Asia. They were also deeply divided on issues such as homosexuality and reproductive rights, not to mention church governance and finances.

“What portended to be a really highly divisive conference may actually have ended up bringing us together a bit,” said the Rev. Adam Hamilton of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan.

“We may have found another way of working through this that may hold most of the church together.”

Many delegates on all sides of the issues expressed reasons to be hopeful. Despite the intense and at times fiery debates, the Rev. Kennetha Bigham-Tsai of Michigan said she also was inspired by “the sustaining fire of the warmth of the Spirit invading my spirit, even in the hard times.”

And there were plenty of hard times as the 864 delegates, half of them clergy, attempted to move through more than 1,000 pieces of legislation submitted to the conference.

The proceedings often were interrupted by protests, points of order and delays — many more than at past conferences, many delegates noted. Bishop Bruce Ough, president of the Council of Bishops, joked during Friday’s closing worship that after Jesus’ resurrection, some of his disciples had doubted and “a few had a point of order.”

For some, it was too much.

The Rev. Don Underwood of Christ United Methodist Church in Plano, Texas, said he wouldn’t support another General Conference like this year’s.

“It isn’t working. It’s way too much money to achieve very little. Lots of legislation dies,” he said.

The procedural wrangling was evident in the debate over the so-called Rule 44.

That debate stretched through much of the first week and ended with delegates voting down the rule that would have allowed them to discuss some of the most contentious issues in small groups. It had been suggested by the commission that plans the conference after debate, particularly over ordaining LGBT clergy and allowing clergy to officiate same-sex marriages, had turned nasty at the 2012 General Conference in Tampa, Fla.

Protesters chanting “Black lives matter” and “Homophobia’s got to go” shut down one afternoon plenary for about 20 minutes, and Ough was forced to address rumors of schism midway through the second week. In a first-ever move, delegates then asked him to bring back direction from the bishops on how the church could move forward together through issues regarding the full inclusion of its LGBT members.

Tension remained high as a characteristically convoluted vote first shot down, then approved the bishops’ recommendations, which deferred all votes on human sexuality until a commission it appoints can discuss them.

With more than 50 items deferred, presiding bishops attempted to speed up the voting, with Bishop Sally Dyck of Chicago sharing a “hot tip” with delegates: “Don’t go to the mic.”

Here are some of the notable actions that were taken:

  • The United Methodist Church will withdraw from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, a pro-abortion rights group. The conference also rejected a resolution titled “Responsible Parenthood,” which also supported abortion rights.
  • Delegates called on their church’s mission agency to withdraw from the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, which critics see as more anti-Israel than pro-peace.
  • Delegates approved “sustainable and responsible investments” in institutions, companies, corporations, or funds whose policies and practices align with the denomination’s Social Principles, but rejected proposals to divest from fossil fuel companies or companies that profit from Israeli military activities in the occupied territories.
  • Africa, where the denomination is growing exponentially, will get five more bishops after the next General Conference as part of the Comprehensive Plan for Africa.
  • Church agencies will raise awareness about the harm caused by sports teams that use mascots that disrespect Native Americans ­or names that depict them as violent and aggressive, such as the “Braves” or the “Warriors” — though the church will not go so far as to say its groups cannot meet in cities that are home to those sports teams.
  • The conference updated a resolution that directs churches to “welcome newly arriving immigrants into our congregations” and pushes a path to citizenship.
  • The church announced a health initiative to reach 1 million children by 2020 with resources for ensuring safe births and preventing illnesses like pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria; promoting breastfeeding; and eliminating barriers to health and medical services. Abundant Health: Our Promise to Children builds on its largest-ever global health initiative, Imagine No Malaria.

The next United Methodist General Conference is scheduled for 2020 in Minneapolis, although the bishops’ recommendations that were adopted allowed for the possibility of a special session to discuss LGBT inclusion before then. An effort to pass legislation pinpointing the date for a special session failed.

About the author

Emily McFarlan Miller

Emily McFarlan Miller is a national reporter for RNS based in Chicago. She covers evangelical and mainline Protestant Christianity.

134 Comments

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  • It is worth noting that the General Conference did NOT change The United Methodist Church’s official position regarding abortion. The conference DID recognize that the agenda of the RCRC no longer reflects our church’s position. We STILL believe that abortion should be a safe and legal option, but we are reluctant to approve of abortion. The United Methodist Church is BOTH pro-life, and pro-choice. Some of our members are activists on either side of this issue, but our official position is distinctly and specifically in the middle of the road. The RCRC position no longer reflects The United Methodist official position, so the church simply dropped it’s support of RCRC.

    Here is most of the official statement of the church regarding abortion.

    “The beginning of life and the ending of life are the God-given boundaries of human existence. While individuals have always had some degree of control over when they would die, they now have the awesome power to determine when and even whether new individuals will be born. Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion.

    But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother and the unborn child.

    We recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures by certified medical providers. We support parental, guardian, or other responsible adult notification and consent before abortions can be performed on girls who have not yet reached the age of legal adulthood. We cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control, and we unconditionally reject it as a means of gender selection or eugenics (see Resolution 3184).

    We oppose the use of late-term abortion known as dilation and extraction (partial-birth abortion) and call for the end of this practice except when the physical life of the mother is in danger and no other medical procedure is available, or in the case of severe fetal anomalies incompatible with life. This procedure shall be performed only by certified medical providers. Before providing their services, abortion providers should be required to offer women the option of anesthesia.

    We call all Christians to a searching and prayerful inquiry into the sorts of conditions that may cause them to consider abortion. We entrust God to provide guidance, wisdom, and discernment to those facing an unintended pregnancy.

    The Church shall offer ministries to reduce unintended pregnancies. We commit our Church to continue to provide nurturing ministries to those who terminate a pregnancy, to those in the midst of a crisis pregnancy, and to those who give birth.

    We mourn and are committed to promoting the diminishment of high abortion rates. The Church shall encourage ministries to reduce unintended pregnancies such as comprehensive, age-appropriate sexuality education, advocacy in regard to contraception, and support of initiatives that enhance the quality of life for all women and girls around the globe.

    Young adult women disproportionately face situations in which they feel that they have no choice due to financial, educational, relational, or other circumstances beyond their control. The Church and its local congregations and campus ministries should be in the forefront of supporting existing ministries and developing new ministries that help such women in their communities. They should also support those crisis pregnancy centers and pregnancy resource centers that compassionately help women explore all options related to unplanned pregnancy. We particularly encourage the Church, the government, and social service agencies to support and facilitate the option of adoption. (See ¶ 161L.) We affirm and encourage the Church to assist the ministry of crisis pregnancy centers and pregnancy resource centers that compassionately help women find feasible alternatives to abortion.

    Governmental laws and regulations do not provide all the guidance required by the informed Christian conscience. Therefore, a decision concerning abortion should be made only after thoughtful and prayerful consideration by the parties involved, with medical, family, pastoral, and other appropriate counsel……”

    http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/the-nurturing-community

    The Rev. Holly Boardman
    Retired Elder, Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church

  • It is worth noting that the General Conference did NOT change The United Methodist Church’s official position regarding abortion. The conference DID recognize that the agenda of the RCRC no longer reflects our church’s position. We STILL believe that abortion should be a safe and legal option, but we are reluctant to approve of abortion. The United Methodist Church is BOTH pro-life, and pro-choice. Some of our members are activists on either side of this issue, but our official position is distinctly and specifically in the middle of the road. The RCRC position no longer reflects The United Methodist official position, so the church simply dropped it’s support of RCRC.

    Here is a link to the official church position regarding abortion:

    http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/the-nurturing-community

    The Rev. Holly Boardman,
    Retired Elder, Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church

  • I remember someone sing new words to an old hymn. To the tune of “Onward Christian Soldiers,” they sang:
    “Like a mighty tortoise moves the church of God. Brothers we are treading where we’ve always trod.
    We are not united, not one body we.
    Some lack hope and some lack love and all lack charity.
    On we go a’marching where we’ve gone before.
    With the cross of Jesus hiding behind the door.”
    These words certain seem apropos when we look back at the end of the 2016 G. C.
    Perhaps, Dr. Hamilton is correct, the one positive aspect is the upcoming commission to, again bring up the issue of full inclusion for our LBGTQAI sisters and brothers, and a sensible look at family planning and a woman’s right to choose.

  • Well a victory for the Bible, even if the delegates didn’t have the guts to finely say no, God won! This is not a debatable issue. Lets drop it and let the Book of Discipline remain as is. No good can come of defying God. Regardless of the Social issue it has no effect on scripture.

  • “The United Methodist Church will withdraw from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, a pro-abortion rights group. The conference also rejected a resolution titled ‘Responsible Parenthood,’ which also supported abortion rights.”

    It is good to see that UMC seems to be making a retreat from a pro-death philosophy. A “Church” that supports killing babies is one that won’t be around long. God will not share His glory with Molech, nor any other.

    ^Yes, I repented of my original post. Saying “Killing babies” was a UMC sacrament was below the belt and I’m sorry I said it.

  • “No good can come of defying God.”

    So, I guess that medical science, along with people benefiting from it is not good, because it is defying God’s perfect design for human suffering. Shouldn’t that defiance be considered a major sin?

  • And the Methodist religion like all Christian sects is saying goodbye to the teachings of Jesus in favor of the teachings of man. I think the Apostle Paul warned churches about this sort of thing. But hey who am I, maybe it is better we keep on finding groups to hate rather than follow the second great commandment.
    People seem to take great pride and joy in feeling superior to others. I understand that since we are all unworthy in the eyes of God the least we can do is determine who is worthy of being one of us.
    Now if just a few Christians decided to live and act Christian 24/7/365 maybe this Christian thing would catch on. Since that is unlikely I am sure Christianity will die out.

  • Middle of the road on abortion is where we all should be. Why? Because it is up to God to judge not we mere humans. I asked someone when the soul enters the fetus. They answered immediately at conception. Now how could they know that when we don’t even know what the soul is or even where it is in our body. If something doesn’t have a soul can you murder it. We kill animals all the time because we don’t believe they have a soul. Therefor until somebody can prove when a fetus gets a soul abortion is not murder. I would even accept theological evidence, but I know there isn’t any.

  • What are you talking about? I have never found any thing wrong in medical science, or the Scriptures about it being against God’s perfect design. Unless your talking about the wacked idea that the only type of healing should be faith healing or that they were born that way. Either way it’s only fringe bull that only the worrysome would consider God’s perfect plan. First of all faith healing can work in cases psycologicaly induced, and some physical problems, but only with great faith. I don’t recall Jesus using it unless he followed with “Your faith has made you whole, Sin no more.”The wacked idea that “They were born that way.” is only held by “THEM.” All Suffering is caused by the wrong use of “free will” God has no wish for man to suffer He would rather man turn to Jesus and follow him rather then use “free will” as licence to rebel. Got it now !

  • There are actually MANY texts in the Old Testament that say that animals DO have souls. For instance, in Genesis 9:4 we weren’t supposed to the blood of animals because that is where the nephesh or soul is. This is called “nephesh dam,” where dam means blood. It also states this in Leviticus 17:10. Revelation 8:9 refers to the sea creatures as having souls or psych in Greek. Perhaps this didn’t make it completely forbidden to eat or kill animals, but there were limits on how they were killed. In Leviticus 17:4, it states that if an animal is not sacrificed properly at the tent of meeting that the sacrificer was guilty of bloodshed. The ideal, but not absolute requirement, is not to eat meat because animals have souls. God originally created both humans and animals only to eat plants. (Genesis 1:29-30) The reason animals eat other animals is because of the fall and the permission humans were given in Genesis 9 to eat animals was a concession to our fallen nature.

  • Also, there is theological disagreement on when fetuses actually have souls. Many theologians, as well as Rabbinic sources would say a fetus would not have soul in the first month. Therefore, I think the need for abortion needs to be reduced by reducing unplanned pregnancies and abortions should be performed early as possible.

  • You’re not confusing God, but it would seem that you are placing your hand to the plow and looking back.

  • I’m sorry for you, I think not to know Jesus and the love of God for us is a terrible way to live. I will pray for you! Love in Jesus Bill.

  • Deny yourself. Pick up your cross. Follow me. (Mt 16:24). Yep. Sounds like work to me.

  • Most abortions do take place early. The exceptions are when it is learned, later in the pregnancy that the fetus has severe anomalies or the life of the woman is in jeopardy.

  • If being a “liberal” is a “mental disorder,” then Christ must have suffered from some psychosis. If ever lived a Liberal it was the one whom you say that you follow, Jesus!

  • Abortion should always remain between a woman and her health care provider, not the church, or family, unless the family is supportive of her decision, whatever that decision. The final decision must lie with the woman and her doctor.
    The RCRC has never advocated for abortion as “birth control,” or “sex selection.” They do advocate for late term abortion if this is done due to the deteriorating health of the woman, fetal demise, or late diagnosis if a severe fetal anomaly.
    Since the merger with the EUB, and the inclusion of people new to the Bible, the UMC has become more and more conservative.
    The Methodist Church in the 1950s and 1960s was progressive and fought for Civil Rights and the end to the Viet Nam War, along with women’s rights. Now, their regression has cost the church 1.5 million members.

  • UUUMMMM, if you look backward while plowing I see only uneven rows, and if I had been the farmer who employed you, your job would be in someone else’s hands.

  • ROTFLOL!!! 2000 years this “failed Christianity” you denigrate has been around enduring persecution far beyond this type of ridicule. Our Savior declared the gates of Hell would not prevail against His Church– despite your predictions. Don’t let these broad strokes of intolerance out-live you and be your legacy long after you have faded from memory. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Mt 4:17)

  • Just who do you think wrote the Bible? Men wrote it, and they live centuries ago in a very patriarchal society. Not only that, but the science, that is still progressing today, was completely unknown.

  • Holly, For research purposes I have called the so called “Crisis Pregnancy Centers.” They do not give a girl or woman ALL options when facing a “crisis pregnancy.” The only options they will discuss are adoption and keeping the child once he/she is born. They never mention the option of abortion.
    Right to Life groups give baby items, but having a child entails 21 years plus.

  • That’s what Jesus said Luke 9:62. Your analogy would work with the analogy Jesus gave with regard to the state of most mainline churches.

  • Luckily it doesn’t. A fetus is not a baby. Babies are born.thanks for demonstrating the cognitive dissonance essential to fetus worship.

  • Sorry for you most atheists already experienced what you call love of God and know the words of Jesus quite well. They are usually far more studied on the subject than most Christians.

    But familiarity breeds contempt. I will pray for you is a typical passive-aggressive kiss off to a flustered Christian. It is almost always snide, disingenuous and meant as a secret insult. Don’t worry you will pray for others, atheists will think critically for you.

  • I always find it interesting when WASPs in this case seem to be speaking for what a minority group does and does not find offensive. After the Washington Post poll among American Indians about the Washington Redskins name, perhaps these not-it-all, holier-than-thou WASPs, seeking to tell American Indians what should offend them, will find something more useful with their time….how about actual proclamation of the gospel in word and deed in ways that truly make a difference, rather than moralizing through a gospel that’s devoid of the Gospel.

  • You’re correct. The Bible says human life begins at first breath after birth. It’s amazing how those demanding we force their “beliefs” onto all Americans by misusing the power of the Law have no idea what the Bible actually says.

  • No amount of soft words hide the fact you posted a personal attack against Mr. Rush. Please learn to respect the rights of all Americans NOT to share your beliefs.”

  • “the wacked idea that […] they were born that way”

    Science has proven sexual orientation is inborn and unchangeable. The US Supreme Court, several US federal and several US State Supreme Courts have examined that evidence and ruled that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is similarly unconstitutional as discrimination based on race because BOTH are IMMUTABLE characteristics. A quick look on any search engine on the phrase “Physiological Basis of Homosexuality” turns up over 26,000 articles, the vast majority supporting the biological basis of same sex attraction, but NONE of them have any PROOF for the wild claim anti-gays make that “it’s a choice.”

  • No, NO you don’t, Jesus was not a political activist only a religous one Pointing out errors that those who had power over the religion of God were committing. They used Jesus to get rid of him.

  • I would like to thank my African and Asian brothers and sisters in Christ for voting against the (mostly American) leadership that would continue to re-make the UMC in the image of secular man. The denomination’s growth in Africa and Asia is a testimony to the power of the gospel of Christ. The shrinking of the UMC in the USA is proof that faith mixed with a post-modern agenda is without value.

  • SEE, you use the term “homosexuality” as a phenomenological term, but gay or lesbian is the person. But of course you are exceedingly correct that sexual orientation is inborn and unchangeable.

  • The demise of “Exodus International” is also great evidence that sexual orientation is immutable. This was a group which claimed to “heal” persons of their “homosexuality” or should I say “gayness?” They claimed they were no longer gay on the basis that they were married. But the persistence of “temptations” in virtually all cases proves that their sexual orientation had not changed. http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/20/us/exodus-international-shutdown/

  • At what age did you choose your sexual orientation? Did you realize during your teenage years that you had to make a choice because you were attracted to both boys and girls? If so, that means you are bisexual. I always suspect that people who believe sexual orientation is a choice are bisexual ~ because otherwise, if they are rational, they would realize that believing it’s a choice is nonsense . . . although I’m well aware of how religion indoctrinates people with all sorts of nonsense.

  • Don’t be sorry. Be envious. After I accepted reason as my personal savior, I was liberated from the need to give respect and deference to the ancient myths that millions of people are still using to validate their attempts to control every aspect of people’s lives. And having the love of my husband for 35 years, instead of an imaginary god, is a wonderful way to live.

  • True, if you are speaking of the two mainline churches that do not allow full inclusion of our LBGT sisters and brothers. Those two are the Southern Baptist and the UMC.
    The UMC spent their entire Gen. Conference on trivial matters.
    1. Debating on how to debate.
    2. Sex, (when it is only allowed)
    3. Sexual orientation.something that is chance not choice.
    4. Abortion (which should be between a woman and her doctor.)
    They never discussed:
    1. Inequality
    2. Health care as a Right not a Privilege.
    3. Our failing educational system
    4, Our crumbling infrastructure
    5. The lack of jobs that pay a living wage

    To me that entire Gen’t Conference was a waste of time, energy and money!

  • Jesus went against the political powers of the day, the Romans, why do you think that he was crucified?

  • Really? The loss of 1.5 million members is due to the fact that we hear sermons that could have been preached 2000 years ago, and treating the Bible (which was written by men in a patriarchal society) as if it was history. The Bible is not history, nor should it be taken literally.

  • Genesis 26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. —- God made 1 man and 1 woman so that they would multiply and be together for life. That’s His definition of marriage and from cover to cover, in the Bible, is the only marriage that is endorsed.
     
    It is a true act of love to treat someone with respect and kindness even though you do not approve of his or her lifestyle or sinful choices. It is not loving to allow a person to remain stuck in sin. It is not hateful to tell a person he or she is in sin. In fact, the exact opposites are true. Sin leads to death (James 1:15), and we love the sinner by speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). We hate the sin by refusing to condone, ignore, or excuse it.
     
    Promoting, condoning and encouraging sin in any form is hating someone. It is pure hatred. You are damning their soul by encouraging separation from God and His plans. Nobody is better than anybody else, we’re ALL sinful. Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short to the glory of God.” There are none righteous. The only righteous is God. I simply believe my ex-gay friends, ex-gays all over the world, in God, sin and repentance. God hates ALL sin. God loves EVERYONE.
     
     
    Bottom line, you can get scripture to say what you want it to say if you twist it far enough. But any honest person, taking scripture at face value cannot justify any sin, let alone “transgenderism”/ homosexuality.
     
    God requires change and sacrifice to follow Him. We were created in HIS image. Today’s “Christians” want to conform God to our image.

  • Heck I’m trying to be nice! I’m sure that anything I say that you don’t agree with will be hate speak because I don’t believe you can accept any ones’ opinion but your own. go and pet your cat he/she needs attention, and stay out of a conversation you are not equiped for.

  • And now a personal attack…

    The problem with anti-gays is not their nasty opinions of LGBT Americans, all based on lies like “it’s a choice,” but rather that antk-gays don’t respect the right of everyone else NOT to be FORCED to LIVE by the nasty opinion of anti-gays, as the 32 anti-gay Hate Votes that denied same gender couples legal marriage proved. Even now, anti-gays are on a new round of obviously unconstitutional anti-gay Hate Laws in a yet more desperate attempt to FORCE those nasty opinions onto all Americans by once again misusing the power of the Law. Remember, anti-gays also denied many American churches, that want to marry same gender couples, their right to Freedom Of Religion.

    Perhaps what enrages Mr. Aulich is that pretty much all normal, non-homophobic Americans ARE equipped to debunk anti-gay lies and work together toward equality.

  • Where’s your evidence “it’s a choice”?

    A quick search on Scholar dot google dot com on the phrase Physiological Basis of Homosexuality turns up over 26,000 articles, the vast majority supporting the biological basis of same sex attraction.

    http://scholar dot google dot com/scholar?hl=en&q=physiological+cause+of+homosexuality&btnG=&as_sdt=1%2C21&as_sdtp=

  • Lying about it doesn’t make your personal attacks go away. You posted at least one personal attack at me already.

  • I refer you to my previous comment on your capacity to engage in a theological conversation.

  • When I grew up I didn’t know there was a choice, if you were a boy you acted like a boy and thought about girls, if you were a girl you tried to keep the boys off you.Please give me back the 50’s.

  • I did not attack you but your tendency to try to engage in conversation with with oneliners that only expose your inability to express yourself on an educated level that you show conceptual attenuation of the concepts in the discussion. You are using expressions that border on political demonstration speak. you attempt to embarrass me with infantile tantrum activities. This is impossible, I have been an instructor for too meany years to fall into such silly traps.

  • Really? Any actual historian would confess that the Bible is history. Nobody forces you to take it literally, but to deny that the Bible is history and contains history is quite out-there.

  • “Church agencies will raise awareness about the harm caused by sports teams that use mascots that disrespect Native Americans or names that depict them as violent and aggressive, such as the ‘Braves’ or the ‘Warriors’ ”

    Now, that’s just plain stupid. First because people don’t name sports teams after groups or entities they don’t respect, and second because of the “violent and aggressive” label. I mean, how about those Patriots and Forty-Niners, and those “violent and aggressive” Dolphins? And this is something that is supposed to be a major concern for a worldwide church of 12 million, with the overseas membership exploding while its US membership shrinks? Maybe this nonsense helps explain why.

  • Nothing enrages Mr. Aulich. I’m too old to care. This attempt further to embarrass me has again failed. I am not a homophobe,Ifear noman only God. I except that they exist I mean them no harm (physicaly,ecconomicly, orto any rights under the Constition) I just wish they would see the error of their ways and come to Jesus for Healing. It is very late and I am very tired I had a busiy day I am making too meany typing and spelling mistakes. good night and God bless All. Bill

  • They announced to the world that they were coming together to discuss ways to become more open, loving, and inclusive, but went away determined to be more closed, hateful, antagonistic to society, and to not even vote or discuss the issues which brought them together. My, how catholic of them!

  • The methodists are still following the lead of the pope. This is exactly what he did too. Talk big and loving, then go away in a fit of hate and secrecy.

  • James and Ephesians are known forgeries, Romans MAY have been written by Marcion in the mid 2nd century. And of course, every rational 9 year old recognizes Genesis as no more valid than a fairy tale.

  • No, ed. Any “history” found in the bible must be corroborated with other sources, and most instances have been found to be out of place, time, and/or context. The bible is not reliable history.

  • The amount of history, science and common sense which must be sacrificed to believe in the bible is the loss of the believer, and a loss to society in having to move forward with these people firmly clasped about their ankles.

  • This was showboating and grandstanding gone awry. They claimed an intent to do one thing, but let the bigoted derail the event.

  • Your whining here is evidence of your rage at the defeat of the anti-gay political agenda. The 32 anti-gay Hate Votes that deprived LGBT Americans of legal marriage are proof positive of anti-gays’ intent to harm LGBT Americans; the attempted anti-gay federal Constitutional amendment was proof that anti-gays don’t respect LGBT Americans’ Constitutional rights.

    I just wish you would see the error in your ways, stop trying to demean and demonize LGBT Americans by claiming they “need Jesus” when that’s none of your business, and admit that your every post proves you are, indeed, homophobic. Psychologists identified homophobia as a mental illness and published their results in the Journal of the National Institutes of Health in 1953. Homophobia is the irrational fear, disgust, or hatred of gays, lesbians, and/or bisexual people, or of homosexual feelings in oneself. It refers to the discomfort one feels with any behavior, belief, or attitude (in self or others) that does not conform to traditional sex role stereotypes. Homophobia exhibits itself in the fear of knowing, befriending, or associating with gays, lesbians, or bisexual people; fear of being perceived as gay or lesbian; and/or fear of stepping out of accepted gender role behavior. Psychologists report that the most commonly observed symptom of the mental disorder homophobia is cognitive dissonance, an inability of those so afflicted to accept documentation that contradicts their deep-seated phobia and hatred of LGBT Americans.

  • More personal attacks, more homophobia, more “projection”…

    Maybe you shouldn’t try to engage others in conversation here. After all, you seem unable to accept anything anyone tells you. Perhaps you could have the one-sided “conversation” you desire at the website of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas.

  • There wasn’t a choice, not for you and not for the gay kids. I was definitely a boy in the fifties, thought like a boy, acted like a boy, except that I thought about other boys.
    As for getting back the fifties? Let’s see. Black people knew their place. Women knew their place. Gay people didn’t know there was even a place, but knew to stay in it. And there were all of those nice drills where you got under your desk in case of an atomic attack.
    All you really want back is the simpler time where you didn’t have to think, or perhaps accept ideas that were uncomfortable for you.

  • IF the UMC says that abortion should remain legal and safe, why do they refuse to “approve” abortion? It is necessary, and that is for a woman and her doctor to decide.
    The statements that they realize that abortion should remain legal and safe, and then they say that they are reluctant to “approve” of that choice. The two statements contradict themselves.
    a woman or man, for that matter, must always have dominion over their own body. Is the “church” is going to pay to raise an unwanted child, or go through nine months of carrying a fetus until term, no matter the circumstances of her health, or the health and well being of the fetus?
    A fetus’ rights should not supersede the rights of a woman.

  • Well, go ahead and believe that if you want to. Much evidence shows otherwise. Yes, the biblical writers/historians might have made a mistake here and there, but to claim the Bible doesn’t have historical value is absurd. Many experts in ancient history look to the Bible when trying to corroborate their own theories.

  • Why? I have known several atheists in my life and they are good people, who are kind to others and show compassion to others and are generous fabulous people. I have known supposed Christians who have a “my way or the highway,” approach to to anyone or any idea that differs from their own.
    Point of interest, I saw this very attitude with some of the UMC members during and after their Gen’l Conference.

  • We are not “born in sin,” nor are we born “sinful,” an no, we are not ALL sinners, but we are an evolving people. Read Dr. John Shelby Spong, a retired bishop in the Episcopal Church. Read his book, “Why Christianity Must Change or Die.” This is one of my favorite books and it rescued me from over 70 years of believing that I was a “heathen.”

  • The RCRC is a group that gives health care to those who cannot afford to go to a private doctor, or those without health insurance. They give counseling to people who wish to delay or avoid pregnancy, free contraception if the person cannot afford to pay, they test of STDs, and do cancer screening, and are similar to Planned Parenthood.
    Do they do or refer women for late tern abortions? Yes, if the woman’s life is in jeopardy, or tests show that the fetus has severe anomalies. I am disappointed that the UMC dissolved their relationship with this worthwhile organization.
    The Zika virus is here in the US, especially the southern states. Microcephaly, a result of Zika, does not show up on U/S until late in the second trimester. This should pose an interesting conundrum to those who are so “reluctant” to approve abortions, especially later term abortions.

  • Well, that’s how the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, misinterprets the Bible. However, modern Biblical scholars have proven the Bible was intentionally mistranslated in order to provide “Biblical cover” for then-rising levels of homophobia. For example, the word “homosexual” didn’t even exist until 1870. Many major Christian and Jewish denominations condemn misusing the hate-based mistranslations to attack their fellow Americans and are marrying same gender American couples now. About 400 years ago, a group of religious authorities (sanctioned by King James I of England), secretly manipulated the English version of the Bible to reflect their own heterosexual attitude; they opposed the King kissing other men in public.

  • What does the shrinking of the Southern Baptists prove?

    “NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The Southern Baptist Convention lost more than 200,000 members in 2014 and saw the lowest number of baptisms since 1947.

    Total membership in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination was just under 15.5 million last year, according to an annual report by Lifeway Christian Resources, the denomination’s publishing arm. That’s down from 15.7 million in 2013. It also marks the eighth straight year of declining membership.

    The number of baptisms has declined in eight of the past 10 years, according to the denomination. In 2014, baptisms declined by more than 5,000 to just over 305,000.”

    http://wate dot com/2015/06/11/southern-baptists-see-8th-year-of-membership-decline/

  • Please stop trying to force Americans to believe your interpretation of the Bible the way anti-gay GOP representatives in NC have tried.

  • You’re the one who claimed sexual orientation is a “choice,” where is your proof that refutes the fact that sexual orientation is inborn and unchangeable?

  • Which personal attack was that?

    If you don’t like having your opinions countered and your deceptions debunked, you are at the wrong website, try “Free Republic,” their “monitors” will delete any opposing comments.

  • Every time science answers a question once filled by “god”, he has to scootch over a bit to make room for the science to fill the space he was booted from. Soon, he will fall off the edge of his disc shaped earth, and there will be no primordial waters for him to walk back on.

  • Ah, yes. Proclaiming the truth in love…no matter what the consequences ot the lives of the people you claim to love. And no matter what the consequences to your own intelligence.

    You wrote this: emphasis mine: “So God created man IN HIS OWN IMAGE, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he THEM.” Sounds like god is transgender, doesn’t it.

    And then you wrote this: “But any honest person, taking scripture at face value cannot justify any sin, let alone “transgenderism”/ homosexuality.”

    So which is it?

    Oh yes, let’s get back to proclaiming the truth in love. I sent this to Smilin’ Al Mohler a few years ago. It applies to you.
    ——————————–

    I must be stupid, because I just don’t understand “proclaiming the truth in love”, certainly not as I
    understand words like “truth” and “love”.

    Here you are complaining of all of this bad behavior by HETEROSEXUALS, and you are upset because two men or two women WANT to make the commitment to each other that you deem so important that not making and keeping it is causing the decline of our culture?

    I have gay coupled friends that have been together for longer than all seven of Newt Gingrich’s and Rush Limbaugh’s marriages combined. I know of at least one couple where you could throw in Liz Taylor’s 8 marriages in addition, and they have still been together longer. I saw many men– myself included– care for their sick partners and boyfriends 30 years ago as they were dying, while their families and churches abandoned them, just like Jesus would have, I’m sure. Straight people abandon their families and children for no other reason than convenience, as you so rightly observe. A fatal disease would hardly keep them around, would it?

    And we’re the problem?

    And you tell us you love us? Do you love us when you blame us for the state of heterosexual marriage and family, conflating our lives and our right to live our lives after the fashion that nature has made us, with the child abuse, child molestation, and partner abuse of the HETERO world, where REAL people are hurt and harmed, not the fabricated hurt and harm that gay people suffer just by existing? Do you love us when you call our lives abominations, dangerous, filthy, disease, perverted and sick, on the basis of what you prefer to believe, rather than the facts of our lives? Did you actually ever talk to gay people whose lives have not been hurt and harmed by the self-hatred you preach?

    Exactly how much to you love us when you oppose everything we try to do to live our lives peacefully and happily, with the same fulfillment you would expect for yourself? Exactly how much do you love us when you join political campaigns that attempt to demonize us, lying,
    propagandizing, fear mongering, calling us a threat to marriage, family, children, freedom, faith, liberty, and the whole of Western civilization, such as it is? Do you truly love us when you seek to disadvantage us legally in every way that you can, to make our lives as difficult and unpleasant as possible, to impose your religious beliefs upon people who most vehemently do not share them? Is it your “love” that makes that OK?

    I can just feel the love there, although I must confess I would probably prefer being hated, it being a tad more honest.

    And then you have THIS little gem. “We also need to be willing to take the hit of “being judgmental” by continuing to proclaim the truth in love. Often, people mistake the judgment of
    God as us judging them.” We gay people need controlling. We gay people need YOUR moral guidance. After all, we are barbarians, aren’t we? We gay people are moral and social children
    that must be supervised by the all-knowing and morally superior. We’re too immature, too wrapped in the coils of lust and sin to know anything about our lives, our sexuality, our faith, our loves, or our families.

    I call shenanigans! Very frankly, I have never met, talked to, or debated any faith based opponent of my right live my life as I see fit, without the burden of your animus-disguised-as-love, who
    knew the first thing about human sexuality in general or gay people in particular. And as for knowing what the bible says about homosexuality, a word that did not appear in it until 1948? Don’t get me started.

    You want to believe you love me? Wonderful, but don’t expect me to buy it. You are in fact judging, as much as you would like to pretend that you are not. As a gay man, I have yet to hear anyone proclaiming the truth in love about gay people without making being gay the extra special-icky sin that they so fervently want it to be. Are you really god’s Best Buddy, that he keeps you informed of all of his thoughts? I don’t think so.

    I don’t think I am mistaking the judgment of God for you judging other people. I’ve got eyes and ears and brains, and besides…I don’t hear God talking, I only hear YOU talking. Proclaiming the
    truth in love? I’m sorry to inform you, but this isn’t love, it’s narcissism.

    I’m almost certain that Jesus was speaking to you in a number of places. So I’ll proclaim the truth in love to YOU—something about not being concerned with the sins of others until you yourself have achieved a bit of perfection.

    “Judge not lest ye be judged.” That doesn’t mean that you rub your hands with glee at the thought of God is judging people exactly as you would, were you God, which you aren’t.

    “Look not for the speck in your bothers eye” because you have one big ol’ log in your own, starting with the belief that you really aren’t judging anybody, your just spreading “the truth in love”.

    “Let him among you…” Well, everyone might be a sinner, but not everyone is throwing stones.

    Exactly what part of what The Lord had to say does not apply to a bible-believing Christian such as yourself?

    I’ll leave you with this thought. There are plenty of Christians, and plenty of Christian denominations, which no longer buy the myths about gay people and god that you people or so happy to repeat, all in the name of proclaiming the truth in love. I’m not a homosexual, an
    abomination, a problem, or any particular kind of sinner, and if I am, you have your own sins to keep you busy. I’m certainly not a threat to you, your family, your children, or your faith, unless the whole of Christianity boils down to “get the homos by proclaiming the truth in love.”

    I won’t tell you if I am a Christian. But I will tell YOU, pastor, that YOU do not know my relationship with God. You do not represent God, and until I hear it from god himself, you do not speak for God. No one has given YOU any authority to judge others. The problem here is simple:
    you have chosen judgment over God, no matter if you would prefer to call it “proclaiming the truth in love”, or admitting it for what it so clearly is. God gives us a choice: self-righteousness or Him. When you make the wrong choice, choosing moralizing judgmentalism as so many of you have done, I can only suggest that you repent and find your lord before it’s too late.

  • Having historical value and being history are two different things entirely. There are enough contradictions in it to thoroughly disqualify it form being history.

  • Jesus was crucified as a threat to the state. He certainly was a social justice activist.

  • There is a difference between “approving” of abortion and supporting a person’s right to choose. Approving of abortion means you think it is a good thing. It is possible to support the legal right to an abortion and still hate what is done.

  • Jesus equated divorce and remarriage as equivalent to adultery. He didn’t say anything about gays. If churches followed Jesus’ teachings and priorities, homosexuality and abortion would not be at the top of the list.

  • The bible is considered a secondary source by historians, not a primary source.

    Coursera has an excellent online course “The Bible’s Prehistory”. Lectures by historians and archeologists are available online. Dr. William Dever is a good place to start. Open Yale Courses and iTunes University also present college courses.

  • I will pray for you for the strength to follow Jesus’ teaching about the beam in your eye.

  • The most important part of being an instructor is learning the subject. Approaching a subject with preconceived beliefs devalues the learning process.

  • Have you read Numbers 5:11-22?

    Your post is inherently deceitful. The UMC is not treating abortion as a sacrament. This lie will go on your list.

  • What do YOU consider to be persecution? You made the claim. Now you need to back up your claim with evidence.

  • It’s not hard, genius. Figure it out. For you to claim there’s been no Christian persecution over the past 2,000 years is beyond ludicrous. It’s not my job to give you a history lesson. Public school much?

  • I am leaving it up to God to judge you. Lies go on the list and saying that the UMC (or any church) considers abortion to be a sacrament is a lie.

  • Mercy! I misread the article and I take back what I said. Will you please forgive me?

  • Well, let’s see.

    There was Catholics killing the Cathars.

    There was Protestants killing Catholics.

    There was Catholics killing Protestants.

    There was the burning of the Catholic heretics.

    There was the burning of the Protestant heretics.

    There was the burning of witches.

    There was the sack of Constantine, wherein Catholics killed the orthodox.

    I’m sure we can find some more.

  • Good list, and you can easily find more, Just come to the USA, Europe cant hold a candle to us. Lets all hope that those things no longer occur.

  • I wreaked my motorcycle, I do not feel like playing with you today. Yesterday you and Mr. Bush were educational tools proving to my students how predicitable your camp is and how you could not bring yourselves to stop fighting,and how one could be caught up in foolish never ending conflict which is not harmonious . I encourage you to loose the bile and seek harmonious relations with people of a different opinion. Don’t answer this post game over.Oh yes at least have the guts to use your real name, or are you hiding something from someone.

  • What persecution in YOUR life time has Christianity in the United States suffered? You have made a claim. I have asked you for YOUR opinion on what you perceive to be persecution.
    Do you consider stores having a policy of employees saying “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas” to be persecution. Fox drums that up every holiday season.
    Do you consider public businesses having to serve people equally, regardless of gender identification or sexual orientation to be persecution?
    Do you consider a business having to sign a piece of paper declaring they have a religious objection to providing contraception through health insurance to be persecution.
    It is not my job to teach you how to read, debate or use critical thinking skills, but when Person A makes a statement of fact, it is Person A’s responsibility to provide the evidence. It is not Person B’s responsibility to do the research for Person A.
    Also, please enlighten me as to where I claimed that there has been no Christian persecution over the past 2,000 years?
    Considering this is a thread about the UMC conference, limiting the discussion to one’s own lifetime seems to make the most sense.

  • None of these things is sacrificed to follow Christ for reasonable believers, the computer in front of me is proof.

  • I like the last truth spoken. It is obvious a lot of people haven’t read Romans 1: 18-32 esspecialy 32.

  • No Ben, I just had a great childhood two parents Mom at home,nothing to get in the way of good holsome development. Attended church on Sunday. worked hard in school, because it didn’t come easy to me. No guns in school except for shooting class, or coming in from hunting. We participated in the drills,but no one thought about what it was about.Heck I used to pitch pennys during them. I never thought about boys as other then friends or enemys depending on how they treated me or my crew. I cannot remembering meeting any gays untill I was in the service. We never heard of drug abuse or ever herd of spouse abuse, or anything else that was grown up stuff and we ignored a lot of things we heard. Escapeism is my right when I think of how desperate and how much dirtier the world has become. I think God’s greatest gift to me is remonissing. Yes, I don’t like thinking about or accepting things I don’t like if I know they are sin. I have my way of dealing with reality I hope you find a way that gives you comfort. We may disagree on how to do it but I wish you comfort and peace. I’ll pray you find it.

  • I don’t have a beam in my eye, I have a forest and know it and try to work on it daily. Thank you for your prayers I need all the help I can get. God Knows !

  • If you’d stayed within the subject of my original post I’d be willing to carry on, however this is a tangential scourging rather than a conversation. Take a pill. Grow a skin. Try to be relevant.

  • Try for an honest answer this time.

    Re-read the thread. My posts have been consistently on point. I am trying to find out what you consider to be persecution of Christians that is happening right now. Each time you refuse to answer, I try to refine the question.

    I offered three potential situations that you might consider to be “persecution” since others have used them (erroneously) as examples.

    You have made a statement of fact. It is your responsibility to provide evidence to support your statement. You have had 3 opportunities to respond. Since you refuse to do so, I can only assume that you have no evidence of Christians being persecuted today.

  • Thanks for your kind thoughts.

    I also had a decent childhood, two parents, mom at home. Nothing to get in the way of a good wholesome development, and as far as I know, nothing did. I got good grades, was active in sports, had almost no troubles growing up. I grew up as well liked, successful at everything I put my hand to. I have a large circle of friends, good people all.

    I also knew I was gay when I was three. I didn’t know what “it” was or what to call it, but I KNEW. Where does my sin come into it as a three year old? I have never had the slightest interest in girls as anything other than fellow humans. I wouldn’t change who I am even if I could.

    I agree with you, there is a lot of ugliness in the world. I don’t think there is more now than there ever was, but there are more people, and communication is better. It’s just easier to find out about it.

    As for knowing something is sin, that is indeed the question here. MY position is that an ancient, vicious, and durable prejudice has not only been given the status of “sin”, but as an extra special dirty sin at that. Many Christians would disagree with that, but it is amazing how much other sin they can comfortably ignore, especially their own, but somehow need to focus in on gay people as the one sin they cannot tolerate. And I suspect that THAT has a great deal to do with the fact that we have become “uppity”, as in uppity negroes and uppity women.

    This is directed at a generic “you”, not you personally. What we gay people demand is this: believe whatever you like, but extend to us the same courtesy and respect that you routinely extend to all of the other people you believe are sinning, all of the other people you believe are going to burn in hell. Don’t try to control and disadvantage my life because you believe something about my “sin”, unless you are willing to try to do that to all of the rest of the people you believe are sinning.

    But no one does. A certain adulterous, fornicating former republican congressman can divorce his third adulterating, formicating wife, and marry a new one tomorrow, and this will arouse nothing but a resounding tsk tsk from evangelical Christians, who will also support Trump, because morality, marriage, and faith don’t matter as much as power, money, and dominion do.

    Something to think about.

  • Why would anyone believe that’s your real name? Why would we believe you’re a teacher with that poor spelling? Anti-gays created this disharmony. Please take adult responsibility for the mess you helped create.

  • of course, read Hebrews 11 :1-3, then all of the rest of the chapter. being unreasonable is not unreasonable if one can live by it.

  • This is neither here nor there, some may be, some not. I don’t or I would have remained a Catholic.

  • Well that is just unreasonable to force myself to believe because I read some bible verse. I stand by my statement.

  • Well to each his own, I never was forced to believe, I found that it was easy when morter shells were flying around. “Ain’t no fox hole athisists.”Pass the aom. and biscuits I got another war to fight. Bill

  • I lived in Greece thirty years ago and I learned Modern Greek. I also learned ancient Greek in college prior to going there. One thing that occurred to me is that the word Paul uses for a particular homosexual act is NOT the same word that is used in Modern Greek for homosexual. The word Paul used does not mean sexual orientation at all, but rather only an act, whereas the Modern Greek word does have much more of a positive feeling component. Modern Greek IS similar to New Testament Greek, so we cannot say that because they are different they use different words. The word in Modern Greek is ομοφυλοφιλια (homophylophylia) or same sex friendship or love- notice the homo in the word which merely means “same,” whether hetero means “other.” Paul uses the term αρσενοκοιτης, or arsenokoitis, which literally means sexual intercourse between males. Therefore it doesn’t mean orientation, nor does it have any connotation of love whatsoever. The Modern Greek word has much more of an orientational or emotional meaning than what Paul said. Of course we know that it isn’t sexual acts per se that make a person gay.

  • Until recently, religious freedom meant the freedom to hold diverse religious beliefs, assemble with others, speak and write on religious topics, etc. But a shift in the meaning of the term has been happening recently. Often, it now means the religious freedom to denigrate and discriminate against others — typically sexual minorities like homosexuals, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals. Haters gotta hate..

    Have a peek at http://www.religioustolerance.org/relfreehate.htm

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