Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Methodists veer toward schism over LGBTQ divide

A great idea.  Let those so inclined depart to set up a queer Methodist church.  The rest of the church will flourish without them. Churches which adhere to the scriptures are the ones that have growing congregations. 

Their lack of enthusiasm for the scriptures is what lies behind the steady loss of members of the present church.  Who wants to join  a church with no fixed beliefs? Religion is about delivering certainty, not waffle. 

The larger society at the moment is very authoritarian about the rightness of homosexuality but that is a chance to display your faith.  Christ commanded you to resist and reject "the world". So  how about doing that? "Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life"

How can you even call yourself Christians while defying the extremely clear and repeated commands of the Bible?  Romans 1:27; Jude 1:7; 1 Timothy 1:8-11; Mark 10:6-9; Matthew 19: 4-16; 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11; 1 Corinthians 7:2; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; Genesis 19:4-8. Set up a Pastorate  called the "Post-Christian congregation" and you will at least have honesty to recommend you, if not the blessing of God or the hope of salvation

Anyone can start a church. As Christ said, "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am." He also advised to pray in solitude, and your Father will hear you and reward you. And He advised not to look for the Kingdom of God over there or over there, because "The kingdom of God is in your midst." So why do homosexuals have to white-ant real Christian churches?  If they have confidence in their own exegesis and theology let them promote their own revelation in their own way in their own "churches"

When Pastor Ross Johnson preached from the Book of Exodus last Sunday, he wasn’t just delivering a standard sermon. He was risking his livelihood.

It was a risk he was willing to take, as he spoke at “Queer Resistance,” a service he and other LGBTQ clergy organized in defiance of the United Methodist Church’s recent vote to reinforce its ban on gay clergy and same-sex marriage.

“Oh, Lord, hear me when I cry out in anger — angry that others may believe that I, a queer minister, am anathema,” Johnson told about 200 congregants seated in a circle inside Old West Church near the base of Beacon Hill. “Oh, Lord, hear me when I cry out in fear, fearing the loss of my career and my first parish, the loss of my church, of all that I hold dear, and all that we know. Oh, Lord, hear me when I scream that I cannot take it anymore.”

Such anguish has been pouring forth from churches in the Boston area since the United Methodist Church’s General Conference voted last month to reaffirm its 1972 policy that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”

Delegates to the conference also voted to more strictly enforce the penalties for clergy who perform same-sex marriages or who are “self-avowed practicing homosexuals.” First-time offenders would be subjected to a year’s suspension without pay. Second offenses would result in expulsion from the ministry.

The decision could split the United Methodist Church, the nation’s largest mainline Protestant denomination, between its conservative and liberal factions, which have long been at odds over the role of sexuality in the church.

Methodist leaders in New England have indicated they will not stop ordaining LGBTQ clergy or performing same-sex marriages in response to the General Conference vote. And many say they are devastated by the policy and are questioning whether they should remain in the church or part ways and form their own independent churches.

“It’s very hard to be in a relationship with people who say you are ‘incompatible with Scripture,’ ” said Sara Garrard, the 30-year-old pastor of Old West Church, who identifies as queer and comes from a long line of Methodist pastors in the Deep South. “What they’re saying in those words is, you are less than, you are not worthy, you are not compatible with the teachings of Christ. You are subhuman, and you are not good enough.”

Hysterical rubbish. All that anybody is saying is to use your genitals more appropriately.  That's the beginning and the end of it

The vote was propelled by a coalition of evangelical Methodists from the United States who joined with delegates from Africa and Asia, where homosexuality is frequently condemned or criminalized.

Together, they marshaled enough support to pass the policy, called the Traditional Plan, by a narrow 54-vote margin, over a competing plan backed by Methodist bishops that would have allowed local and regional church leaders to decide whether to ordain or marry LGBTQ members.

The Rev. Thomas A. Lambrecht, who helped draft the Traditional Plan and submitted it to the General Conference, said it was important to stop bishops who had been routinely defying church teaching by allowing the ordination of gay clergy and the sanctioning of same-sex marriages.

“It’s important to maintain our church’s stance in [agreement] with Scripture,” said Lambrecht, the vice president and general manager of Good News, an evangelical Methodist organization in Texas. “The Bible consistently defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and for us to accept the practice of homosexuality as something that’s blessed by God would be contrary to Scripture.”

He said for those churches that disagree with the policy, the Traditional Plan creates an exit pathway for them to leave the United Methodist Church and form their own independent congregations.

Lambrecht said such a schism could benefit both sides. “In fact, for a number of years we’ve seen it’s not possible for us to continue living together in one church body,” Lambrecht said. “Our theological perspectives are so opposite that living together just creates conflict that distracts us from the mission of our church.”

The Rev. We Hyun Chang, superintendent of the Metro Boston Hope District, which represents 47 churches in the area, agreed the denomination may be at a breaking point, divided between growing congregations in Africa and Asia and churches in the United States, where gay marriage is widely accepted.

“I don’t know how we can hold together those two growing Methodist movements, which happen to be in contradiction,” Chang said. “I think there are going to be some forms of new expression, one way or the other. The question is how we get there.”

Progressive Methodist leaders in the United States worry the policy will make it harder for the church to survive and grow when its members are still fighting over gay rights four years after the Supreme Court established a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

As with other mainline Protestant denominations, the United Methodist Church has been shrinking as a share of the US population, falling from 5.1 percent in 2007 to 3.6 percent, according to a 2014 study by the Pew Research Center. The church is also older, whiter, and less racially diverse than many other denominations, Pew said.

Although the role of gender and sexuality in ordination and marriage remain deeply divisive issues in other mainline churches, the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Church of Christ, and others have embraced same-sex marriage in recent years.

That trend could make it all the more difficult for the United Methodist Church to broaden its membership, said the Rev. Dr. Jay Williams, pastor of Union Church in Boston’s South End, who attended the General Conference in St. Louis and said he found the policy particularly painful as a gay black man.

“We live in a world where people are not knocking down the doors of the church,” Williams said. “And as the country goes more theologically left, and increasingly not religious at all, to go in the direction of exclusion is really a death knell.”

Sudarshana Devadhar, bishop of the New England Conference of Methodists, wrote in a letter to church members earlier this month that he and his Cabinet were “heartbroken” by the vote and remain committed “to lead a church that does not discriminate in membership, ordination, or service in ministry based upon any person’s gender or sexual identity.”

That full embrace of LGBTQ people was echoed in the songs and sermons shared during last Sunday’s “Queer Resistance” service.

“We resist,” the congregants sang, voices rising inside the 213-year-old brick church. “We refuse to let hatred in. We rise up. We won’t back down. We’re in this till the end.”


Second Airport Bans Chick-fil-A for ‘Discrimination’

That sounds very discriminatory

After a Democratic New York State assemblyman said that a plan allowing a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Buffalo’s airport was tantamount to sanctioning discrimination against the LGBTQ population, officials backed down and said the restaurant will not be at the airport after all.

As Chick-fil-A spreads across the Northeast, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority had already approved plans from Delaware North, which oversees the food vendors at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, to add the popular restaurant to their airport.

But Assemblyman Sean Ryan, who according to the Buffalo News is working to get the airport $100 million in the state budget for capital projects, objected.

“I don’t believe the leadership of the NFTA intends to help spread hate and discrimination, but allowing a corporation like Chick-fil-A to do business at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport will help to fund continued divisive anti-LGBTQ rhetoric,” Ryan said in a statement on Thursday. “New York is a welcoming state that celebrates diversity.” [But not Christian businesses?]

“The views of Chick-fil-A do not represent our state or the Western New York community, and businesses that support discrimination have no place operating in taxpayer-funded public facilities. Once again, I urge you to reverse this decision and identify a different restaurant to operate at the airport,” Ryan said.

By Friday, the chicken deal was dead, according to New York Upstate.

“A publicly financed facility like the Buffalo Niagara International Airport is not the appropriate venue for a Chick-fil-A restaurant,” Ryan said in his Friday statement.

“I applaud the decision that has been made to remove Chick-fil-A from the plans for this project. We hope in the future the NFTA will make every effort to contract with businesses that adhere to anti-discrimination policies, and we’re confident another vendor who better represents the values of the Western New York community will replace Chick-fil-A as a part of this project in the very near future,” he wrote.

Not everyone agreed with the decision.

"NY is a welcoming state.  In fact Albany Airport welcomed a Chick-fil-A to serve their travelers.  31 airports across the US welcomed a Chick-fil-A. Once again Buffalo is screwed over by a self serving politician pandering for votes"

A Chick-fil-A statement said some media coverage “drives an inaccurate narrative” about it.

“We do not have a political or social agenda or discriminate against any group,” the statement said. “More than 145,000 people from different backgrounds and beliefs represent the Chick-fil-A brand. We embrace all people, regardless of religion, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity.“

Although airport travelers will be denied Chick-fil-A’s brand of chicken, the chain operates a restaurant in the Buffalo suburb of Cheektowaga. That venue, according to the Buffalo News, “still draws overflow crowds and long lines at its drive-thru.”

The airport controversy is much like one in San Antonio, where politicians barred Chick-fil-A from the city’s airport. That decision drew a sharp response from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.


The New York Times – Kudos to Disloyalty, Anti-Semitism, and Obscenity

Bill Donohue

A good index of how sick our culture has become can be found in a New York Times editorial on March 22.

It hails the three most radical members of Congress, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Ilhan Omar, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib for “dismantl[ing] one of the most tiresome and inaccurate stereotypes in politics: that women lawmakers are inherently more civil, more collaborative, less power-hungry and less personally ambitious than men.” It would be great to know how many Americans think this development is a good thing.

What is most striking about the editorial are the three examples it chose to prove its point.

It cited Ocasio-Cortez's plea for more primary challenges against moderate Democrats: “Long story short, I need you to run for office.”

It cited Omar's tweet saying American foreign policy is bought by Jews: “It's all about the Benjamins, baby.”

It (partially) cited Tlaib's comment about the president: “We're gonna impeach the [expletive]!” Note: she called Trump a “motherf*****.”

By celebrating disloyalty, anti-Semitism, and obscenity, The New York Times lost whatever moral credibility it had left. We certainly don't want to read any more of its editorials lecturing the Catholic Church.


Australia’s approach to indigenous communities is making their lives worse, expert claims

She's right.  Conditions for Aborigines have deteriorated steadily since the missionaries left. Putting Aborigines into the hands of bureaucrats was laughably inept. She seems unaware however that governments have tried just about everything since.  Her idea of Aboriginal self-management is really old hat.  It was tried years ago in the Lake Tyers experiment, with woeful results.  I agree however that Aborigines should be left strictly alone by governments.  That way they alone will be responsible for however they end up.

Australia is living in a “colonial fantasy” — and unless we radically change our path, the plethora of problems plaguing indigenous communities will worsen.

That’s the powerful message put forward by Sarah Maddison, a Professor of Politics at the University of Melbourne, has a game-changing idea which she believes will drastically reshape our nation for the better.

Speaking to news.com.au off the back of her new book, The Colonial Fantasy, Why White Australia Can’t Solve Black Problems, Prof Maddison said efforts from both political parties to bridge the gap over the years have just made life worse in indigenous communities.

“It’s hard to imagine that the situation can get any worse than it is now,” she said grimly, pointing to catastrophic suicide rates and an alarming level of youth incarceration for indigenous people.

“No approach that any government has taken has made any difference, so we need to try something radically different.”

In her book, Prof Maddison puts forward this bold new rethinking of Australian society and the solution, she says, is very simple — to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities the power to control and manage their own lives.

“There is now a wealth of evidence from overseas that's shows when you give indigenous communities the power to control their own affairs in areas like health, education and economic development, it makes a huge difference to their lives,” she said.

She argues that abolishing Australia’s current top-down approach and allowing indigenous communities to control their affairs, they can focus on the things that are important to them — rather being told what is important by the government.

In the USA, Native American communities are being empowered in a similar way, and decades of research from self-determination organisations, such as the Native Nations Institute, shows that the approach is working.

The argument is, that once power is handed back, decisions start to reflect local concerns and, perhaps more importantly, indigenous communities are accountable for their own lives — meaning they reap the benefit of good decisions and learn from the bad ones.

“Australia, however, is relentlessly going in the opposite direction by continuing to implement policies that are interventionist and paternalistic,” Prof Maddison said.

In the title of her book, she describes the current attitude and methods used to try to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as a “colonial fantasy”.

In her book, she also argues that this heavy-handed approach — whereby increasing amounts of public money is thrown at indigenous communities to no avail — is a continuation of the colonial attitude that has persisted since Captain James Cook first landed here in 1770.

“I’m not saying that the current government is trying to kill all indigenous people, but the aim has always been the same, which is to eliminate indigenous difference and identity because the idea of them living independently of the state is threatening,” she said. “And, for indigenous people, this infects everything.”

She said evidence of this in the way Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people often place much greater importance on their clan name or regional identity rather than describing themselves as “Australian”.

But a much more glaring example of this disconnect rears its ugly head every January.

This year’s Australia Day debate played out on our television screens in spectacular fashion, when Kerri-Anne Kennerley made a point about there bigger fish to fry than changing the date of a symbolic national holiday.

But, while Prof Maddison said debates about statues of controversial historical settler figures and changing or abolishing Australia Day are a distraction on one level — they also matter on another.

“They matter because they become a deeply symbolic of the colonial relationship, and it shows that just can’t face up to the reality of what’s happened in our history,” she said.

She argues that if “psychological roadblocks” like this had been resolved years ago, Australia would be a lot further down the line in terms handing back power to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

However, she added that communities around Australia are not waiting around and they are starting to take matters into their own hands — such as the Yawuru people who are the native title holders of the Western Australian town of Broome and are organising their own affairs independently of the government.

“They are the now the authors of their own destiny and that’s what needs to happen right across Australia,” Prof Maddison said.

“The government needs to get out of the way and stop telling Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people how to live their lives.”



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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