Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

January 22, 2016

Are Methodist Sunday Schools, VBS for LGBTQ Indoctrination?

Should young children be indoctrinated in LGBTQ ideology in United Methodist Vacation Bible Schools and Sunday schools?

The answer is a resounding “YES” if the LBGTQ “reconciling” movement in my denomination gets its way.

This was the focus of a workshop at last Saturday’s “Winter Warming” retreat for activist supporters of the extraordinarily well-funded Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN).

RMN is the main unofficial caucus group devoted to promoting the LGBTQ liberationist cause.  It boasts of having over 32,000 “Reconciling United Methodists,” but a spokeswoman at this event admitted that they count anyone who receives their emails or newsletters (some of whom, like me, do not support their agenda).

While “Winter Warming” was only a local event of RMN’s Chicago-area chapter, it featured some nationally prominent liberal UMC figures. The keynote preacher was Bishop Minerva Carcaño of Los Angeles. She was introduced by Chicago Bishop Sally Dyck, and gave a shout-out to retired bishop Sharon Rader, who was apparently also present. Bishop Carcaño claimed, without elaborating, that the 15 bishops, including Rader, who publicly challenged the UMC’s orthodox policies on sexuality at the 1996 General Conference, later “suffered a great deal.”

In addition to the three bishops, the closing worship featured the Rev. Tracy Smith-Malone, an endorsed candidate for bishop, sitting prominently up front. There was also a time of “commissioning” her and other Northern Illinois General Conference delegates there to advance the RMN agenda. (As an elected delegate from another conference, I declined to participate.)

A “Forum on General Conference” was led by Chett Pritchett, national leader of the Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA), and Bridget Cabrera, one of several staffers of the Chicago-based RMN present. They plugged their usual petitions to delete the UMC’s official teaching that homosexual practice is sinful and to remove church policies prohibiting same-sex “sin blessing” ceremonies, the ordination of “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals,” and the use of denominational funds “to promote the acceptance of homosexuality.” They also touted like-minded proposals from the liberal-hijacked Connectional Table and formerly evangelical celebrity pastor Adam Hamilton.

The first break-out workshop I attended was entitled “Make Your VBS LGBTQ+ Friendly.” But the two women from the Chicago Children’s Museum leading it explained that the workshop’s intent was to help make all early-childhood programs in church and elsewhere LGBTQ+ affirming.

One of their big points was the moral imperative they saw to “drop the gender binary” from avoiding such language as “boys and girls” to having “all-gender restrooms” (they apparently didn’t see how this could possibly go wrong with immature, vulnerable little kids), lest one child feel undue pressure to conform to the gender binary.

The workshop also shared examples of recommended children’s books for church libraries, from cutesy stories of adorable preschoolers raised by same-sex couples portrayed as no less equipped for perfect parenting than any mother-father couple to a particularly disturbing children’s book about how a little boy found joy and wholeness when his parents finally let him dress and identify as a girl (rather than take him to counseling to address his struggles to accept the biological reality of his God-given sex).

But perhaps nothing was as striking as seeing an adorable eight-year-old girl, brought to “Winter Warming” by her dad, speak up in this workshop to dutifully recite what she had understood of the transgenderist ideology into which she was being indoctrinated.

The other workshop I attended was led by RMN staffer M Barclay (formerly Mary Ann Kaiser), about whose ultimately failed publicity-stunt attempt at ordination I have written. She shared about her own more recent experiences as a transgendered individual who has “physically transitioned in some ways,” now self-identifying as not conforming to gender binaries and using the pronoun “they” rather than “she.” She also gave a broader overview of some of the often confusing aspects of transgenderism, including how part of transgenderist ideology is that people did not change genders but rather they were never truly the gender they were assigned at birth—except for folk in the narrow sub-category of “gender-fluid.”

Throughout Barclay’s talk, it became clear that when she said someone “was really” a particular gender (despite confusion that may be caused by them having the anatomy, dress, and/or chromosomes of the other gender), the one criterion that trumped all others was however the person self-identified. She was ultimately dismissive of concerns about “bathroom non-discrimination” policies for transgendered people worsening the already-existent problem of male predators seeking access to women’s locker rooms, in contrast to this perspective from a rape survivor.

(I realize that transgenderist ideology would protest my use of female pronouns for Ms. Barclay. It is not my intention to insult or hurt anyone’s feelings. But when someone is facing what needs to be named as a severe delusion of not recognizing his or her own God-given sex – long recognized by psychiatrists as a mental disorder – true compassion involves helping people come back to reality, rather than “humoring them” by saying anything to encourage or enable their very self-destructive confusion.)

Those of us who are committed to historic Christian orthodoxy and biblical standards for sexual self-control need to understand how many people are drawn to events like “Winter Warming,” as participants or leaders, to seek refuge after lifelong struggles with bullying, exclusion, rejection, depression, and internal confusion over their unchosen same-sex attractions or gender identity disorder – or else to seek guidance for how to understand and be there for loved ones who may self-identify with the LGBTQ+ community.

I will note that folk in the first workshop were very gracious to me when I politely expressed my bewilderment at the confusing array of gender-pronoun options offered in the online registration for this event. I selected boring old he/him/his, rather than she/her/hers, but other choices included xe/xem/xyrs or ze/hir/hirs.

The attendees got to hear a lot of shallow but nice-sounding talk about love and acceptance. They got to sing vapid verses about inclusion “for everyone born.” Bishop Carcaño’s sermon characteristically presented the question facing the church on sexual morality as a simple binary between compassionately loving people or not. At one point, Carcaño somewhat oddly linked the latter with the attitude of a German United Methodist man who she portrayed as being so hard-hearted as to want refugees in his country to obey the same laws obeyed by native Germans.

It is essential to monitor and resist the harmful agendas groups like RMN seek to impose on the church.

But it is also just as urgent for our churches to host and support “compassion without compromise” ministries like Transforming Congregations and the Restored Hope Network – which are needed now more than ever. There are serious ministry challenges related to people preciously created in God’s image experiencing same-sex attraction and/or gender identity disorder, with some even deciding to mutilate their own God-given bodies. Children being reared by same-sex couples (and children reared by unmarried cohabiting opposite-sex couples) are in no less need of our churches’ Sunday schools, vacation Bible schools, congregation-based preschools, or other children’s ministries than any other kids in our communities.

And we cannot afford to let such events that harmfully serve to worsen people’s confusion to be the only ones offering guidance.

(UPDATE: Rev. Will Green, one of the event organizers, responds in the comments below. Among other things, he corrects my initial eyeball-estimate of the number of attendees, which was originally included in this article.)


37 Responses to Are Methodist Sunday Schools, VBS for LGBTQ Indoctrination?

  1. Mike Ward says:

    She wants to be referred to as “they”? So not only can you identify as any gender you want, but now you can identify as plural?

  2. Katrina Shawgo says:

    It comes as no surprise that this author feels as though being disrespectful (in regards to pronouns and gender identity) is “helping.” This savior complex is common in many cisgendered men. Since he’s so interested in psychiatry, maybe he can read up on it. Trans people deserve our respect and our love. It is disingenuous to say it’s not your intention to hurt someone, and then do the very thing you know hurts them.

    • 0pus35 says:

      LOL.
      So that’s how it works, “cisgendered men” (i.e., NORMAL men) are no longer allowed to have an opinion?

      There is no sacred right not to have one’s feelings hurt. Also, no mandate for Christians to serve as enablers of the mentally ill. A man who thinks he is a woman is obviously delusional, and the only loving and Christian thing to do is speak the truth. Participating in someone else’s psychosis is not Christian, it’s plain evil.

      • Katrina Shawgo says:

        Being transgender is not a disorder or “psychosis” according to the American Psychological Association. I’m sure you wouldn’t presume to know more than an entire national organization of doctors who specialize in psychology. So in this case, being respectful of someone’s identity isn’t participating in delusion, but it is exhibiting Christ-like love to those whom society is often cruel to. You are correct that there is no right to not have one’s feelings hurt, but then, why would you want to hurt someone? Just because you can? That doesn’t seem like the Christian thing to do.

        • Namyriah says:

          Your priorities are interesting. You think it’s a huge deal that trannies might get their feelings hurt, yet you give wholehearted approval to dismembering unborn children in the womb – or, as you call it, “reproductive justice.” I think anyone with a clear head and a human heart would say that dismemberment is a bit more serious than hurt feelings. Of course, people who excuse atrocities always find some clever euphemisms to cloak what happens – the Nazis slaughtered millions of people, excusing it by referring to “lives not worthy of life.” And today the pro-abortion crowd talks about “reproductive justice,” as if “justice” was attained by chopping an unborn child into smithereens.

          The bad news is, people who call themselves “Christians” actually think that the hurt feelings of trannies matter more than the mass extermination of human fetuses. The good news is, the left-wing churches are withering away to nothing, fast and furiously. Give the PCUSA and Episcopagans and United Church of Christ 20 more years, they won’t even exist. The religion of abortion, sodomy, and global warming has proven to be a total failure in the pews.

          • thosewomens says:

            liberalism is a degenerate mental disorder

          • MarcoPolo says:

            A fetus are the private property of the pregnant woman. Not an entity to which YOU, or anybody else has a right to impose upon.

            Imagine how many of those aborted may have grown up Gay or Lesbian? Might you have protested that likelihood?

        • StarTripper says:

          Bruce Jenner says he is a woman. I say I am a space alien. Testing of our DNA shows we are both in error. Confronted with the evidence we both hold to our self-identities. We are delusional.

        • Patrick98 says:

          Here is where the clash of worldviews happens. Followers of Jesus Christ believe that there is a God who is very real and active. That is our worldview. Psychology was begun by three people – Freud, Adler, and Jung – whose view of God was very different than that. In fact Freud and Adler denied the existence of God. Adler converted at the end of his life but the damage had been done. Psychology is a worldview that insists there is no God. If there is a God, or there is no God, everything else you know or believe about the universe, the planet earth, all of its inhabitants, and most ultimately human beings, will be affected by your worldview. Because people with these two differing worldviews have interaction with each other the clash happens.

    • Brad F says:

      The religion of Christianity is rooted in a guy who had a “savior complex,” so maybe you’re in the wrong religion.

  3. Will G. says:

    Hi John–

    I’m really glad you came to Winter Warming! Although we didn’t get to chat much, I hope at least that you found yourself welcome in our space. I do also hope that you didn’t feel like you had to decline participation in the commissioning–as the liturgy said it was only for delegates from the NIC (which is, consequently, why their names were specifically read). Just one thing I would note in your article–though we might diverge greatly and in many places in your interpretation of what you heard–there were close to 300 persons who participated in Winter Warming over the course of the day, though if you’re specifically referring to worship there were only 175.

    Thanks again for coming! If you’re ever up for grabbing coffee, since we’re both in the Chicago-land area, I certainly wouldn’t say no.

    Will Green

    PS: I also hope you didn’t feel shamed by (or otherwise inadvertently labeled as boring because of) your gender pronouns on your name tag. They were neither boring nor offensive. They were you, and that makes them absolutely worthwhile!

    • Thanks for the friendly comment. I updated the article in response to your factual point re attendance. Within the first hour of Winter Warming, I was recognized and greeted by both Chett Pritchett of MFSA and Matt Berryman of RMN. Feel free to contact me at umaction@theird.org if you are interested in follow-up dialogue. And no worries about he/him/his – I figure if any folk who may have a problem with me for my being a “cisgendered man” will have to take it up with the One who made me that way!

  4. Namyriah says:

    For 4 years I was an assistant editor with the UM division that produced the Sunday school literature. At a time when the UM was shrinking, and when many UM churches were ordering their Sunday school literature from evangelical publishing houses, my department published an elective study on sexuality for junior high kids, basically a biology lesson with no ethical content at all. I’m happy to report that the denomination has shrunk even further, and an even higher percentage of UM churches are using non-UM literature in the Sunday schools. It’s been amusing (I left the UM long ago) to sit back and watch a once large and vital institution shoot itself in the foot over and over.

  5. Skipper says:

    It is unfortunate that these people didn’t come to us (the United Methodist Church) for help. They want their own ideas on immorality to be accepted in place of God’s ways which are followed by Christians. The bible warns against leaning on your own understanding. We have all done that at times, but replacing God’s morality is extremely dangerous. These are like lost people standing on a corner giving directions to others. Jesus said when the blind lead the blind they both fall in the ditch.
    I would suggest they should read John 3:16 through verse 20. Jesus continues in 3:19: “This, then, is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and the people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, so his deeds may not be exposed. But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.”
    It’s bad enough for them to push this on adults, but unthinkable to try to push this on children. They have no fear of God and no respect for His holy Word!

    • Sam says:

      “these people” are United Methodists. “They” have no doubt read scripture just as you have and believe that God is leading “them” in a direction with which you disagree.

      When two people say that they are following God’s will but believe different things, it is a quandary for sure.

      • Skipper says:

        Shame on you! Methodists don’t abuse others, especially children! No! Never, ever, ever! They might have their names on a roll somewhere, but they are not Methodists. Remember Jesus telling the Pharisees not to think they were “Sons of Abraham” because if they were “Sons of Abraham” they would be acting like it? If these were Methodists, they would be acting like Methodists. This evil is not a choice of God’s People.

        • Sam says:

          There is no shame in loving all people, Skipper. Look to Jesus for that lesson.

          • Skipper says:

            Loving all people, yes, but we can’t love all ideas. Some are evil. Jesus in Matt. 5:30, “If your right hand causes you to sin, chop it off and throw it away! It is better to lose one part of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”

          • Sam says:

            Progressives wouldn’t love your ideas, but I hope that they do love you as a fellow human being and Christian and use less inflammatory language when speaking about you.

          • Skipper says:

            Progressives are not out to kill your body, but the important thing, your soul is in great danger under their influence. They openly support sexual deviancy and perverseness. God loves us very much and has asked us to live lives that are clean and holy, because He is a holy God. Jesus, Peter and Paul angered many people by pointing out sin and calling on people to turn back to God. This was not inflammatory language (causing anger intentionally). Sometimes the truth hurts. Jesus tells us everyone won’t repent and turn back – few will find the Narrow Gate. “We have found the Messiah,” let’s follow Him!

          • MarcoPolo says:

            Wow! Talk about mutilation!?

          • Skipper says:

            I’m not out to shred anyone, but sometimes God’s Word does that. We are nothing without God and nothing without love and respect for God and His Word. This is an area where we need to face reality and “man up” to the sin in our lives. These is no hiding it from God! Quarterback Cam Newton was in the Super Bowl this week. After his team lost, he could not face defeat and refused to talk with the media. This was especially noticed by fans after all the big talk he had done. He had worn golden shoes and his jersey reads number “1”. His fans wanted to hear him admit he had done his best and failed. But he let them down and walked off. God wants to hear us admit our sins and turn back to him.

          • MarcoPolo says:

            You’re speaking about humility, and I wholeheartedly agree, we all need to be humble.

            That can be achieved with (almost) any Godhead, whose tenets are Compassion, Fidelity and Love.

            Time tested parables and Historical truths should dictate our daily (and lifelong) goals. Nobility comes from a consistent integrity, and yes, the Christian faith has proven to meet that standard, but we mustn’t expect EVERYONE to believe in the same religious structure.

            Namaste’

          • Skipper says:

            So Namaste’ means there is “a spark of the divine in all of us”, per Hindu custom? “I bow to the divine in you.” I think that’s true. But Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” in John 14:6. I believe that to be the truth and if we are His servant, we need to bow to Him as ruler of all!

          • MarcoPolo says:

            I’ll resist identifying with any particular ‘organized’ religious faith, since that only segregates Mankind.
            Much like the contemporary parable that mimics your statement: “One can get to the roof by other methods than just the elevator.”

            In order to maintain any semblance of civility, we must respect our differences.
            So yes, I appreciate your recognition of my salutation, and in due response, I salute you.

          • Paula says:

            God segregated mankind. If you read His Word, you will find that out. Our faith isn’t based on what WE want to do, but working daily to follow after God’s heart. He made us, He made the rules. Pretending to be “tolerant” so as not to offend sexual deviancy makes one wonder why someone like that would even BOTHER to go to church… which usually means we are trying to learn more about God and His Ways, not our own. It isn’t about hating LBGT’s. We all at this stage have friends, family and loves ones who fall under that category… We all also have alcoholics, drug abuses, etc., but we don’t sit here and enable them and pretend that what they are doing is OK. This “tolerant” thing is beyond reason. Will you TOLERATE someone when they want to marry 2, 3 or 4 people? The idea that they are “born that way” kinda falls short when we start looking at these situations. What about a man who now wants to be a 5 year old girl? What about someone who is white, but wants to be black? What about a serial killer? Well, were they all BORN THAT WAY? I think if we want to pay God lip-service, we do no one any good. It becomes a religious game-nothing else. You are not helping ANYONE playing these games.
            Now for the hate replies… bring it on!

          • MarcoPolo says:

            I would certainly never hate anyone for stating what they believe, but it seems that there are still a lot of people who can’t accept that Homosexuals ARE born that way!

            To think that Left-Handed folks were once thought to be of the Devil…LOL!!

            You should feel safe and loved in your beliefs, just don’t rule out that you might be wrong?

            History will prove that treating our brethren like they were abnormal, is not civil, or Christ-like.

  6. Forrest says:

    They already ripped through the Episcopal church and did their damage and we will fix it back, but it maybe they are done with us and gonna harass you guys for a few years. Get defensive…

    • Paula says:

      Sad. Christians need to stand up and stop thinking that having a backbone is “hate”. It is not. God did some pretty radical things in the Bible. We speak of love, but forget what it took to get God’s people to that PROMISED LAND. God is NOT A PANSY. He deserves our complete respect and we have allowed others to railroad us into this “tolerant” non-sense. We can love the sinner and hate the sin. My son lives with a girl. It’s wrong. He knows I don’t agree. Do I HATE him? NO! l LOVE HIM. Seriously, we need to stop letting the LBGT mafia bully and lie about us.

      • MarcoPolo says:

        If I learned anything as a kid in (Methodist) Sunday School, it was that God is Love.
        So, with LOVE as the goal, why would one need to act defensively?
        The LGBT family is simply a portion of the Human family. Part of YOUR family as much as MINE.

        The distress you’re feeling is because some Religions still allow ancient ‘knowledge’ to dictate how we think and act today. Love is timeless, and it is all that is needed……EVER!

  7. Ella Pauline says:

    The bewildering choice for gender makes me think about Paul’s admonition that nobody in the church should speak in a tongue others can not clearly understand.

  8. Joe M says:

    This is why the United Methodist Church is losing members and will continue losing them. People looking for a church see and hear what is going on with this denomination (and others as well) and decide that they can’t support a church that doesn’t adhere to the Holy Scripture. It’s true that most U.M. churches do follow the Scripture, but a small amount of leaven affects the whole loaf. Why the CHURCH doesn’t cast out and break away from these liberal thinkers and doers is beyond me….as it is written in 1 Corinthians ch.5 vs. 1 through 8. These people not only put themselves in jeopardy with GOD but they cause the young ones that they teach this falsehood to to believe the sin that they are taught. Jesus was explicit about His feelings concerning those that brought harm to “these little ones.” By staying affiliated with those that support the LGBTQ agenda the U.M.Church will gradually destroy itself. I pray that the Church will do the right thing.

    • Sam says:

      I can’t speak for why the United Methodist Church is losing members, but my local congregation, and in fact every UMC congregation in my city that is actually growing, is welcoming to all people. If my local church had not opened wide its doors, then the church would have closed years ago.

  9. Brad F says:

    The big question is: Where are the parents of these kids? OK, if the “gay couple” Bruce and Kevin bring “their” kid to church, naturally they’d approve wholeheartedly of the Sunday school adding to the brainwashing that the poor child gets at home. But why are Bob and Jennifer subjecting their kid to this? Are liberals that herd-driven that they think that whatever the denomination approves of, it must be OK?

  10. John S. says:

    And? VBS and Sunday School have always been about indoctrination, sorry-teaching. The question is who controls, who selects, who guides. Since the UMC seems to have a hard time in believing and holding onto anything those who do believe (LGBTQ, etc) have grabbed onto another tool to advance their beliefs and causes.

    Really, in most UMC congregations how much of your budget goes to education and how much goes to music?

  11. Paula says:

    I actually came on here to check out the Methodist stance on this issue. I was looking at a VBS program for my child. I guess she will not be attending. I hope the God-fearing Methodist folks will stand up to this agenda. There is NO WAY I would send my child and have her possibly indoctrinated about this behavior-which God is very CLEAR about in His RULE BOOK! Speak up folks.. they will keep encroaching if we don’t!

    Thank you all for your honesty.

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