Holier than Thou

The United Methodist Church is officially splitting over gay rights

Trinity United Methodist Church in Seattle. Via Wikimedia Commons

Leaders of the United Methodist Church–the third largest Christian denomination in the United States–have announced a major schism. The church will divide into two new denominations in a split over LGBTQ inclusion.

Acceptance of queer people has long caused a rift within Methodism, with growing numbers of churchgoers supporting the ordination of gay clergy and performing of same-sex marriages. A heated conference last year failed to resolve the growing conflict, when a resolution to allow same-sex marriages and clergy was narrowly defeated in a final vote.

Now a group of 16 bishops has offered a plan to effectively split the church–and its funds–over a four year period. The divide will create two new denominations: a “traditionalist” group, which will still oppose any acceptance of queer people, and a more progressive branch, set to begin ordaining and marrying LGBTQ people.

“The potential seems strong that the separation proposal can end or at least greatly reduce the denomination’s decades-long struggle over how accepting to be of homosexuality,” the church said in a statement.

Though the plan has preliminary approval from church leadership, it will need to face a vote in a church conference this May. At present, the United Methodist Church is one of only a handful of non-evangelical protestant denominations to continue to oppose the acceptance of queer people.