Methodists Urged to Debate Marriage Equality, Gay Clergy
Several LGBT activists recently attended the United Methodist Church’s General Conference in Tampa, Fla., in order to argue that the United Methodist Church (UMC) should lift the ban on homosexuality in the church, which prohibits gay clergy and same-sex marriage, the Washington Post reported.
Nearly 1,000 delegates from around the world attended the conference while gay activists handed out pamphlets in five languages to promote their cause.
General Conference legislates attend the event, which is held every four years, to make decisions on a number of important issues, including pensions and prayer books. One hot issue that has been discussed since 1972 is the homosexuality debate. That same year, a phrase calling gay activity "incompatible with Christian teaching" was added to the Book of Discipline -- a law and doctrine of the UMC.
LGBT activists say that the UMC "must become more inclusive to attract young Americans who view the sexuality prohibitions as hypocritical," the Post points out. Conservatives, however, claim that churches that are sticking to traditional doctrines are thriving.
The newspaper says that United Methodists who back gay rights have proposed about 100 resolutions this year that would lift the phrase and say that more people are coming around to gays in the church.
Last year a UMC court barely punished a Wisconsin minister who authorized a gay marriage. More than 1,200 retired and active UMC clergy have vowed to perform same-sex marriages as well and surveys show that young Christians support gay rights. In addition, Episcopalian, Lutherans, Presbyterians have started using gay-friendly policies -- but conservatives say those churches have split from traditionalist congregations.