Tell us if you’ve heard this one before: A priest, a rabbi, and a gay guy walk into a bar… Nevermind, we’re SURE you heard it before. But it turns out that this time it’s the Methodists. It seems it’s that time of year when the United Methodist Church’s General Conference gathers (or, to be exact, every FOUR years). And they will be discussing whether to admit same-sex clergy (as the Episcopalians already do) and their stance on same-sex unions.
LGBT activists have already printed pamphlets in everything from Portuguese to Swahili (nearly 40% of the delegates live outside the United States) to educate the world’s Methodist clergy that have all gathered in Tampa, Florida. They’ll be debating all manner of things, but it’s the gay and lesbian issue that seems to stir up the most resentment.
According to the Washington Post: “The homosexuality debate dates to 1972, when a phrase calling homosexual activity ‘incompatible with Christian teaching’ was added to the Book of Discipline, which contains the denomination’s laws and doctrines. The UMC also bans noncelibate gay clergy and same-sex marriage.”
Gay activists argue that if the UMC were more inclusive, they might be able to attract younger people to its congregations, which have been waning. But whether the traditionalists will outweigh the more progressive members is yet to be seen.