2016 UMC General Conference

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May 11, 2016

Methodists Resist Radical LGBT Discord

“I’m somewhat reminded of ‘stump speeches’ politicians give,” former Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) blogger Alexander Griswold has written of repetitive encounters with pro-LGBT United Methodist Church (UMC) minister Frank Schaefer. Similarly hackneyed is An Act of Love, a film documenting his LGBT advocacy that nonetheless cannot refute the reality of disordered LGBT agendas rightfully resisted by most Methodists.

The film examines Schaefer’s relationship with his son Tim, who like two other of Schaefer’s four children identifies as homosexual, and the UMC fallout from Schaefer’s officiating at Tim’s 2007 same-sex “marriage” (SSM). As indicated by the film title, Schaefer considered his affirmation of his son’s homosexuality a loving act for an individual whose initial awareness of same-sex attractions had provoked depression and suicidal thoughts. The lesbian and UMC LGBT activist Dorothee Benz in the film condemns as cruelty to “say that this proportion of the population should be deprived of a basic human need for love and intimacy.”

One of Schaefer’s congregants in the small eastern Pennsylvania town of Iona, Jon Boger had a less positive response to his actions. Schaefer baptized Boger’s children and buried his grandparents. As the film narrates, Boger filed a UMC disciplinary action against Schaefer in 2013 after learning of his SSM ceremony, a violation of the UMC’s Book of Discipline and its orthodox Christian prohibition of homosexuality. Boger wept on the witness stand at the November 2013 UMC trial as he contrasted his obedience to his oath as a United States Navy officer, even at the price of extensive home absences, with Schaefer’s ministerial oath breaking.

The film shows Schaefer’s former parishioners explaining how he had a devastating impact beyond Boger upon the congregation before Schaefer left the parish after the UMC trial court imposed a defrocking. Schaefer had became disinterested in the church’s original traditional worship service as he devoted more time to a second contemporary worship service he had started where he played guitar. As a result of congregant dissatisfaction with his ministry and controversial homosexuality stance, Schaefer’s church lost about half of its 250 members in 2013.

IRD writer John Lomperis has observed that Schaefer, who continued to officiate communion in violation of his suspension, was ultimately “far more effective at media self-promotion than in being a caring, ‘do no harm’ pastor.” While he waged an ultimately successful appeal for UMC reinstatement, he became a cause célèbre for Methodist LGBT groups like the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN). “For a defrocked minister, I have a lot of preaching to do,” the film shows Schaefer joking while speaking at places like Washington, DC’s Foundry Church where he blasts a UMC “taken into homophobic captivity.” Assessing the damaged community he left behind in Iona, one former congregant in the film says Schaefer “has simply moved on, he is the rock star now for Reconciliation Movements.”

Schaefer’s experience parallels UMC Bishop Melvin Talbert, who in the film makes the ubiquitous false analogy between the LGBT agendas he supports and the civil rights movement in which he struggled as a black man. The film shows him declaring at the 2012 UMC General Conference that the anti-LGBT “derogatory language and restrictive laws in the Book of Discipline are immoral and unjust and no longer deserve our loyalty and obedience.” Notwithstanding such stirring appeals, IRD President Mark Tooley notes that Talbert, who a month before Schaefer’s trial oversaw a SSM ceremony, has “presided over imploding membership and schism as bishop in Seattle and San Francisco.”

“It has been widely observed,” Lomperis has written, “how the sort of secularized, progressive theology of RMN and company is incapable of building healthy, vibrant, sustainable churches, but mainly serves to tear apart and shrink churches built by others.”

This denominational disruption is not surprising in light of the radicalism of LGBT advocates like Jimmy Creech, a former Methodist minister featured in the film. Defrocked in 1999 for having presided over a SSM ceremony, that year he justified his participation in gay pride parades with a desire “to affirm the normalcy of all sexual diversity.” Radical RMN events have exhibited support for polyamory and prostitution even as RMN Executive Director Matt Barryman has astonishingly stated that “God has already settled this matter” by affirming LGBT behavior.

Methodist LGBT advocates also often exhibit Christian heresy, such as when Talbert dismissed on the Larry King Show Muslims needing salvation in Christ. A 2015 sermon by Schaefer following his reinstatement and transfer to a California congregation similarly equated Christianity with other faiths. He stated that “not only Jesus, but the Buddha taught us, Judaism is teaching us, Muslim theology teaches us…. None of us have the full truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” Barryman also described Christ’s crucifixion as a “radical identification in the flesh with those who endure suffering and oppression at the hands of the powerful,” not atonement for individual sin.

Heresy accompanies radical politics, as Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) Coalition Coordinator Steve Clunn indicated at a screening of An Act of Love on April 24 at Arlington, Virginia’s pro-LGBT Mount Olivet Methodist Church. He condemned “clear violations of peoples’ civil and human rights” in recent Mississippi and North Carolina laws protecting religious freedom as well as, in the latter case, sex-segregated public facilities against LGBT demands. His insouciance towards privacy and safety in public lavatories contrasted with his call to his panel audience to “pardon the exclusive language” in gender terms while citing Jesus’ reference to the Sabbath being “made for man.”

Clunn’s leftist “intersectionality of justice” advocated by him and his LGBT allies has a decidedly leftist tilt. His MFSA colleague and fellow panelist Chett Pritchett is well known to this author for having previously hosted a radical Palestinian propagandist at a Georgetown UMC church. MFSA’s “Resources on Boycott and Divestment” likewise link to radical anti-Israeli organizations like the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and Jewish Voice for Peace. A recent Benz statement similarly yearns for a world with “a free Palestine…gender-neutral bathrooms,” and an “end to the fossil-fuel economy” while MFSA in the Love Your Neighbor Coalition, advocates “compassionate abortion care.”

Like all leftists, Methodist LGBT advocates demonize and delegitimize their opponents, as when Talbert complains in the film that “our church has been taken over by the religious right.” Barryman amazingly analogized the UMC Council of Bishops attempts to discipline Talbert for his SSM ceremony in October 2013 to Christ’s persecution due to “institutional covenants and the preservation of rules meant to sustain power.”

“This is about control,” Clunn stated at Mount Olivet concerning UMC defenders of orthodox Christian morality, “this is about forcing conformity.”

“LGBTQ folk are just the red herring in a play for power. If it’s not us, it will be someone else,” concurred Pritchett.

Irrespective of reality, Clunn and his allies put on a show of being victims of powerful opponents as LGBT agendas face “a lot of money and people and power invested in exporting hatred” among Methodists worldwide. A fellow panelist from Foundry Church, soon to be “married” to another man, described an “anti-LGBT agenda that is extremely well-organized, well-financed.” Yet the hardly deprived movie producers reflect how foundations, governments, and rich individuals regularly outspend LGBT opposition, while Methodist LGBT activists, Lomperis notes, have “received massive funding from secular political sources.”

Echoing other leftists once again, Methodist LGBT advocates play the race card. Benz condemns a “combination of U.S. and international conservatives, led and whipped into a hateful frenzy by southern white Americans” for halting LGBT progress in the UMC. Barryman bizarrely described the Council of Bishops’ charges against Talbert as an example of the “racism and homophobia embedded in both culture and church.”

The UMC’s racial and political realities are quite different. IRD noted in 2012 that “[o]ver 35 percent of United Methodists now live in Africa, where the church is growing and conservative” and Africans will likely dominate the UMC within a decade. At the 2012 General Conference, where 61 percent of delegates upheld traditional sexual ethics, 40 percent of delegates came from outside the United States. This situation “almost certainly precludes the currently 12 million member United Methodist Church (7.4 million in the U.S.) from following other declining historically liberal Mainline denominations in the U.S.”

“United Methodism is less and less captive to U.S. culture, for which the church can be grateful,” while “Christianity’s future is global and orthodox.”

These realities belie Clunn’s optimism for a progressive future, given that a majority of American General Council delegates support LGBT causes. “The liberal side is demonstrably losing ground in its decades-long campaign,” Lomperis has noted, but “can be expected to become increasingly shrill and divisive in their immature protest antics.” At Schaefer’s trial, for example, LGBT activists threw their chairs on the floor to protest his conviction, while Benz has written in anticipation of the current 2016 General Conference that if LGBT activists “do not disrupt business as usual, then nothing will change.”

More realistic Methodist progressives have pursued alternatives like the “Global Segregation Plan.” This ultimately rejected scheme, described by one liberal as the “only hope left” for UMC progressives, would have given large powers to an autonomous American UMC conference. Lomperis has also noted that since 2012 “there has been an unprecedented mushrooming of talk of liberal exodus from the United Methodist Church.”

Ironically, UMC ministers Thomas A. Lambrecht (the UMC counsel in Schaefer’s trial) and Rob Renfroe from the orthodox Good News Movement indicated in the film their acceptance of such an amicable divorce. Unlike McDonald’s restaurants countrywide, “if you go into a United Methodist Church, you don’t know what you are going to get in terms of theology,” Lambrecht states. He has previously considered it “appropriate for those who think they cannot live within the policies of the church to withdraw from the church, and we would be willing to allow them to keep their property, their pensions.”

More disturbing is the “divorce” of Tim from his partner at the time of Schaefer’s trial, a fact hidden from the UMC court. The film shows Schaefer declaring at Tim’s SSM ceremony that “this is the point of no return,” yet this relationship, the source of so much controversy and distress, would ultimately be for naught.  Given the instability of homosexual relationships, it is unlikely that Tim’s second “engagement” shown at film’s end will fulfill his hopes of being a “keeper.” Christians within and without the UMC would be wise to follow the more permanent sexual standards laid out in the Bible and imprinted upon human nature for Christ’s chaste bride, the church.

Update: Chett Pritchett was originally identified as saying he was soon to “marry” another man. This was actually said by another panelist at the same event at Mount Olivet Methodist Church. Here was Pritchett’s response on Twitter:


14 Responses to Methodists Resist Radical LGBT Discord

  1. LeeRaleigh says:

    Thanks for the hard work that went behind this article. I was not able to hang in there with the UMC, and have since joined a local church that fully believes and teaches the Bible, but my family and I pray regularly for the UMC and our dear believing friends who are still called to be a light within it. God bless you all.

  2. Bainbridge84 says:

    And the odds of 3 out of 4 of one man’s children being gay are So extraordinary that there is something very, very wrong here.

    • Mark Brooks says:

      One is reminded that oftentimes sexual dysfunction later in life is sometimes the result of sexual abuse as a child.

    • MarcoPolo says:

      Welcome to the reality that Gays and Lesbians aren’t a NEW phenomenon, but rather, just now, not being beaten or killed for being themselves.
      I’m sure there are Anthropological data to confirm their existence over the millennia.
      Thank God (wherever She/He is) that we no longer shame those who are different than we!

  3. Justin White says:

    “His MFSA colleague and fellow panelist Chett Pritchett, soon to be “married” to another man”
    – This is actually a false statement. Please check your facts. Regardless of where anyone falls on an issue, spreading false rumors and speaking ill of your brother in Christ helps no one. Or do you see him as such?

    For a group that loves to claim orthodoxy and scriptural purity, I’d like to quote James, one of my favorite epistles.

    “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?”

    • Mark Brooks says:

      Here is what God says through Paul, in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians:

      “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles, that one has his father’s wife. You are puffed up, and didn’t rather mourn, that he who had done this deed might be removed from among you. For I most certainly, as being absent in body but present in spirit, have already, as though I were present, judged him who has done this thing. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, you being gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, are to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”

      “Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole lump? Purge out the old yeast, that you may be a new lump, even as you are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed in our place. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old yeast, neither with the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and
      truth. I wrote to you in my letter to have no company with sexual sinners; yet not at all meaning with the sexual sinners of this world, or with the covetous and extortionists, or with idolaters; for then you would have to leave the world. But as it is, I wrote to you not to associate with anyone who is called a brother who is a sexual sinner, or covetous, or an idolater, or a slanderer, or a drunkard, or an extortionist. Don’t even eat with such a person. For what have I to do with also judging those who are outside? Don’t you judge those who are within? But those who are outside, God judges. ‘Put away the wicked man from among yourselves.'”

      “Dare any of you, having a matter against his neighbor, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Don’t you know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Don’t you know that we will judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? If then, you have to judge things pertaining to this life, do you set them to judge who are of no account in the assembly? I say this to move you to shame. Isn’t there even one wise man among you who would be able to decide between his brothers? But brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers! Therefore it is already altogether a defect in you, that you have lawsuits one with another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? No, but you yourselves do wrong, and defraud, and that against your brothers. Or don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s Kingdom? Don’t be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor extortionists, will inherit God’s Kingdom. Such were some of you, but you were washed. But you were sanctified. But you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and in the Spirit of our God. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are expedient. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be brought under the power of anything. ‘Foods for the belly, and the belly for foods,’ but God will bring to nothing both it and them. But the body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. Now God raised up the Lord, and will also raise us up by his power. Don’t you know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or don’t you know that he who is joined to a prostitute is one body? For, ‘The two’, he says, ‘will become one flesh.’ But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit. Flee sexual immorality! ‘Every sin that a man does is outside the body,’ but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

      That is from 1 Corinthians chapters 5 and 6. One who has the name of a brother and engages in sexual immorality, the brethren are commanded to judge.

      As for what God spoke through James, he also said:

      “Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to those who love him.”

      “Let no man say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God,’ for God can’t be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then the lust, when it has conceived, bears sin; and the sin, when it is full grown, produces death. Don’t be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, nor turning shadow. Of his own will he gave birth to us by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.”

      “So, then, my beloved brothers, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man doesn’t produce the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, receive with humility the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not only hearers, deluding your own selves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his natural face in a mirror; for he sees himself, and goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of freedom, and continues, not being a hearer who forgets, but a doer of the work, this man will be blessed in what he does.”

      That is in James in the first chapter. I’m am not seeing any way that your cherry-picked quotation negates what Paul related. Evil-speaking isn’t involved here, but rather matters that the brethren are expressly commanded to judge.

      Be a doer of the word, not merely a hearer, James wrote. Put the wicked man away from among yourselves, Paul wrote. This is what God has commanded, and that is what is being done. If the openly gay Chett Pritchett didn’t have the name of a brother, we would not be called to judge him with the body of God’s people. It is because he has the name of a brother that we must. Let Chett Pritchett and the other MFSA members put away their filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, and cease their slanders of the brethren who are speaking the truth and seeking to do what God has commanded. Or let them cease to claim the name of a brother, and then the brethren will have no cause to judge.

      For we know this; God loves good and hates evil, and expects us to judge, and judge righteously:

      “Seek good, and not evil,
      that you may live;
      and so Yahweh, the God of Armies, will be with you,
      as you say.
      Hate evil, love good,
      and establish justice in the courts.
      It may be that Yahweh, the God of Armies, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.”
      Amos 5:14-15

      Do you claim the name of a brother, Justin White? Then James speaks to you too. If you judge your brothers for judging, then you are judging by your own interpretation. What a quandry. Or does your quotation of scripture only apply to those whom you disagree with, and not to yourself?

    • AEHarrod says:

      My notes say that Pritchett mentioned being “engaged” at Mount Olivet Church. I could check my recording again.

      • AEHarrod says:

        I have checked the recording of the Mount Olivet presentation once again. Pritchett, in introducing the film, clearly states that he is in a same-sex relationship and is about to be “married” by his Methodist minister. What contrary information do you have?

    • Scott Carter says:

      To follow The Way as laid out by God is not to judge, but rather to follow God while accepting His judgement. Thus it is the Gay Agenda that refuses to accept God’s (not man’s) judgement, deciding that instead they will create their own rules and condemn those that don’t accept them as being “judgmental” and thus not in accord with James’ prescriptive. This is the method of perverse obfuscation that must be employed in order to confuse and subvert God’s Way.

  4. MarcoPolo says:

    Having been raised in the Methodist Church myself, it might seem sad to other Methodists that our current culture has outgrown the short-sightedness of the Mainline Church dogma, but in reality, as any intelligent person can attest, everything evolves!

    Schizm or no schizm for the Church, Time (History) and Science will clearly display the prejudices of those who wish to condemn our LGBT brothers and sisters.

    Namaste’

    • Quartermaster says:

      Being a practitioner of an eastern religion you might consider them broither sand sisters. To a Christian, however, those who are living in habitual sin are not brothers and sisters. People in habitual sin, and that includes the homosexual, are dead in trespass and sin. Their end is eternal separation from God, just as they live separated from God in this world.

      • MarcoPolo says:

        If that’s the case, are all the LGBT couples that I know, (who have been attending church for years together), just wasting their (sacred) time?

        Aren’t ALL people welcome in the House of the Lord?

  5. Theodore Fenton says:

    They’ll never become famous for growing churches, but supporting sodomy will get the cameras rolling.

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