Oliveto Comes Out Swinging Against “the Bad Churches” of the UMC

on January 28, 2017

The weekend before last, partnered lesbian United Methodist activist Karen Oliveto came to Chicago to deliver some public talks.

At one point, she revealed, “One of the things I really love is boxing.” During these talks, she pulled few punches in attacking our denomination’s adherence to biblical, ecumenical disapproval of homosexual practice – to the point of denouncing “bad” orthodox United Methodists, likening her experience to American slaves 160 years ago, and suggesting that several prominent figures in United Methodist history were secretly lesbians.

A self-described “lightning rod,” Dr. Oliveto has come to the center of our denomination’s theological controversies due to the Western Jurisdiction taking action last summer to elect her to become a bishop, in open defiance of our denomination’s ban on “self-avowed practicing homosexual” clergy, and to assign her to be the bishop of the Mountain Sky Area (Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and part of Idaho). Her election is being challenged through our denomination’s notoriously slow accountability mechanisms, but in the meantime she is acting as the bishop of this area.

Moving Methodism beyond Wesleyanism

Oliveto, who shared that she “came out” as lesbian in 1981, provocatively stressed that she was “not the first gay bishop” in our denomination, but rather “just the first openly gay bishop.” She specifically cited reports that the late Bishop Finis Crutchfield had had a secret life of being homosexually active, resulting in the AIDS that killed him in 1987.

She spent much time across the weekend passionately railing against the United Methodist Church’s ongoing adherence to biblical teaching and the 2,000-year global, ecumenical Christian consensus on sexual morality, which she blamed for such double lives. But her arguments showed little evidence of serious engagement with Scripture, with our denomination’s Wesleyan theology, or with the latter’s central concern of personal Christian holiness. She did at least follow the lead of more honest liberals nowadays in no longer stooping to ignorant arguments about the biblical texts not actually saying what they say in their consistent disapproval of homosexual practice. But she also fell back on the intellectually lazy equation of “heteronormativity” with racism and opposition to women’s ordination – apparently unaware of the wealth of biblical resources for supporting racial equality and women’s ordination. While Oliveto repeatedly suggested that Wesleyan theology was somehow a resource for her cause, she relied on rather shallow and long-discredited ideas about Outler’s so-called “Wesleyan quadrilateral” to suggest that “experience” (as she broadly defined it) could somehow nullify the clear teachings of Scripture, without being able to cite any instance of Wesley actually doing that.

Interestingly, at one point in her Sunday sermon at First UMC in Evanston, she shared that in the last church she pastored, “about 15 percent of our congregation were atheists or agnostics.” She did recall countering some of this population’s skepticism about the Ten Commandments by defending them as offering a path for the Hebrew people to avoid returning to slavery. Of course, congregations should seek to draw in unbelievers and share the Gospel with them. But when the preacher is literally on record as defending possession by a demon as preferable, in at least some cases, to becoming free of the demon through the power of Jesus Christ, it is unclear how simply having atheists inside a nominally Christian church building actually draws them towards the Truth.

She devoted much of her Public Theology Lecture at Garrett-Theological Seminary in suburban Chicago, entitled “Strangely Warmed Hearts: A United Methodist In(Queer)y,” to uncovering a supposedly hidden history of our tradition’s “role models” for homosexually active United Methodists.

She presented a bunch of rather inconclusive, circumstantial, and anachronistic evidence to suggest that such noted historical figures in American Methodism as Anna Howard Shaw, Francis Willard, and Georgia Harkness were all really lesbians.

Oliveto also went on about John Wesley ministering to a Mr. Blair who had been imprisoned for sodomy. She stressed Wesley’s lack of expressed condemnation of Blair, appearing to hint at this indicating moral approval by the founder of Methodism of Blair’s alleged offense. But she completely ignored how serious Wesley scholars like Richard Heitzenrater have long noted the understanding of the Methodist community that Blair was actually falsely accused. She also ignored Wesley’s own negative (and rather un-PC) writings against the practices of “sodomites.”

So in sum, Oliveto made strong factual claims she could not muster sufficient evidence to prove, while ignoring key historical information that would undermine her assertions, all for the sake of rewriting history in the service of her political agenda. And yet she accused others of being the ones committing “historical revision” for allegedly suppressing such unproven history.

Attacking United Methodist Congregations

Oliveto aimed some of her most notable rhetorical blows against some of the very United Methodist congregations she is assigned (for now) to oversee. Since beginning to act as bishop, Oliveto and her lesbian life partner, Robin Ridenour—who she referenced multiple times in her talks and with whom she apparently has a legally recognized “marriage”—have embarked on a series of tours. Apparently they seek to at least make an appearance at every one of the Mountain Sky Area’s United Methodist congregations, stopping by as many as 12 in a day.

Yet within the safety of a supportive ideological echo chamber of a liberal seminary hundreds of miles away from her suburban Denver headquarters, Oliveto lashed out at four United Methodist congregations she visited that were “not as enthusiastic” about her becoming their bishop. She rather self-centeredly complained of the “soul damage” she says she suffered from this unhappiness of a small minority of those being placed under her power. She actually used the words “the bad churches” (that quote is clear in the audio recording) to describe these United Methodists and denounced them as a “destabilizing factor” in the region. (She did quickly re-characterize “the bad churches” as “the hard churches,” but expressed no regret at the first characterization.) Most of the rest of the congregations had been rather supportive, she found, as United Methodism in the region is generally branded as a more liberal alternative to other types of Christianity. She also declared her judgment that these few orthodox congregations were not legitimately United Methodist (in apparent contrast to liberal congregations whose theology is closer to Unitarian Universalism), and “really haven’t been United Methodist in a really long time.”

Apparently, Ms. Oliveto has no problem taking it upon herself to sit in public judgment over who in our denomination is or is not truly United Methodist, and does not see her own rejection of the Book of Discipline that literally defines United Methodism or her own adherence to a bizarre, Jesus-criticizing, demon-defending theology as posing any problems for her qualifications to sit in such a judgment seat.

While several bishops have spoken out against her election, Oliveto gushed about how the Western Jurisdiction bishops have been “tremendously welcoming.” She also recounted her pleasant surprise at how she was accepted at last fall’s meeting of our global Council of Bishops, at which her lesbian partner was even welcome to join a gathering for bishops’ spouses. And Northern Illinois Bishop Sally Dyck could hardly have been more enthusiastic in introducing Oliveto while introducing as “my colleague,” acknowledging “her wife, Robin,” and declaring, “I thank God that Bishop Karen is with us, not only on the Council of Bishops, but with us this morning,” before Oliveto preached that Sunday.

In her introduction, Bishop Dyck cast Oliveto’s whirlwind tours of Mountain Sky Area congregations as an impressive story of how “she went to the margins…to meet the people.” But the actual record of her visit to one area shows that the overwhelming majority of her church visits were “selfie opportunities” described as “very short ‘in-transit’ stops…provid[ing] just enough time to take a picture,” and no time for Oliveto to actually get to know or hear from the people there. So given the immense, rather intimidating power the Western Jurisdiction is (for now) giving Oliveto to lord over pastors and congregations in this region, and understandable fears evangelical pastors may have of what she will do to them if she detects insufficient enthusiasm, such visits seem to largely serve a purpose of no congregation in the area being safe from being rather directly confronted with a lesbian activist bishop, or from being used for Oliveto’s self-serving propaganda pictures.

Given how some Western Jurisdiction bishops have been rather heavy-handed in their bullying, exclusion, and/or mistreatment of United Methodists who actually hold to orthodox United Methodist doctrine and values, Oliveto’s remarks offered little reason for hope that she would not be at least as repressive of what is left of evangelical faith.

Furthermore, across the weekend she showed little interest in accurately describing United Methodism’s biblically and ecumenically rooted stance on sexual morality or in understanding folk who support it.

She claimed that our denomination’s “structures against queer people” have “made contact with queer people almost impossible” and that the Discipline’s “funding ban” somehow stifles “conversations.” Actually, the funding ban rather explicitly allows denominationally funded discussions presenting a range of views on sexual morality, if only our church’s teaching is “fairly and equally represented.” It simply makes clear that if some activists want to organize some program or event with the express intent of opposing United Methodist teachings on sexual immorality, they cannot force United Methodist congregations or individuals who disagree with their agenda to be the ones to pay for it.

Her claim that traditionalist United Methodists act like same-sex-attracted people “have nothing to offer” clashes against such realities as:

  • Our supporting loving, “compassion without compromise” ministries with self-described members of the LGBTQ community;
  • Our urging the church to listen to individuals who live faithful lives as same-sex-attracted but celibate Christians; and
  • The many ways in which the “Reconciling” movement and the Western Jurisdiction—both of which have counted Oliveto as a prominent leader—have so ruthlessly excluded such voices, and other theological traditionalists, as if we have nothing to offer.

During the Q+A time at Garrett, in response to a questioner asserting that our denomination would have officially liberalized on homosexuality were it not for the growing number of General Conference votes from Africa, Oliveto expressed her support for the so-called “global segregation plan.” That basic idea is to allow the U.S. part of United Methodism to make its own governance free from international input, as African United Methodists apparently have nothing to teach us Americans on such matters.

Almost immediately before lamenting how “there’s an empathy deficit in America right now,” Oliveto made a point of touting The Handmaiden’s Tale—a dystopian novel of a Christian theocracy taking power in America and instituting such totalitarian measures as reducing women to sexual slavery and legally forbidding them from reading—as a fair and accurate portrayal of “the religious right [taking] their precepts to their natural conclusion.”

Choosing to Stay in Slavery

As this was Martin Luther King Day weekend, Oliveto’s Sunday sermon noted America’s sad history with slavery, quickly moving to equate this with the “enslavement” of LGBTQ individuals like herself by the United Methodist Church, and accused our denomination of thus turning Christianity into “an enemy of the oppressed.”

In his famous letter to William Wilberforce, John Wesley denounced American slavery as the vilest form of slavery that ever existed in human history. American slaves faced such brutal atrocities as whippings, rapes, denial of education, and a totalitarian lack of freedom of religion, of expression, of assembly, of property rights, and of travel. Dr. Oliveto faces none of these things. As pastor of Glide Memorial UMC, she enjoyed a base salary of $94,747 (according to page 509 of her conference journal), while now it has shot up to $150,000 plus free housing, and she is thus in the top tenth of one percent of the richest people in the world.

Yet rather than fully acknowledge her extremely privileged status as a rich white American in the twenty-first century, let alone demonstrate some humility about the scary amount of power she is being given (for now) over congregations she unlovingly denounces as “bad,” Oliveto seemed more interested in using the atrocities of slavery primarily as a rhetorical prop for equating her plight with that of enslaved African Americans before the Civil War, on the basis of the fact that despite all of her wealth and privileges, there exists one denomination that teaches a higher standard of moral self-control than what she is personally willing to live by.

One may fairly ask why someone who appears so committed to closing her mind against being taught our church’s beliefs would insist on staying “enslaved” within the UMC.

She did declare at one point that “there are going to be babies who are going to be born to Methodists who are going to turn out to be queer” to suggest she was fighting on their behalf.

But we cannot ignore some factors of more direct self-interest. Someone asked her what advice she would offer to gay United Methodists who are considering ordination. In her response, among other things, Oliveto reported that many of her friends had gone into the extremely liberal United Church of Christ (UCC) denomination (which is much smaller than United Methodism), but then were unable to find congregations. And while she downplayed the extent of orthodoxy in the Mountain Sky Area, at one point she estimated that some 20 percent of Montana United Methodism would break in a traditionalist direction if there were a denominational split. Such instant losses would obviously be a significant blow to the finances of her remaining conference office.

But perhaps there is something deeper going on here than even the money and job security Oliveto currently gets from the UMC, and deeper than whatever propaganda plans she may have for pictures from her tour of the support Mountain Sky Methodists felt pressure to show for their Dear Leader.

Romans 2:15 teaches us that the moral law of God is written on the hearts of all people. Roman Catholics have developed an impressive body of thought about how even individuals who very openly reject God’s standards will nevertheless often feel internal attacks of conscience when they choose to violate them, and therefore find themselves unable to react calmly when other people simply remind them of the truth of which their own hearts are also telling them.

It is horrible to live in such an internally conflicted way.

What we see with Karen Oliveto is someone with such a passion for moral affirmation of her lifestyle that it is not enough for her to simply leave the church of her childhood affiliation (as plenty of others do all the time) to find a spiritual community that fully affirms her behavior. It is not enough that for her the leadership of the Western Jurisdiction has so effectively driven out orthodox United Methodists, as even four congregations (out of 386 total in the Mountain Sky Area!) disapproving of her morals is too much for her to bear. Oliveto’s passion in seeking affirmation, and in refusing to take a “live and let live” approach with churches and individuals who have different moral values than her own, quite evidently overrides any concern for or even willingness to acknowledge the great harm she is choosing to inflict on our global denomination.

But to the extent that Karen Oliveto is really ultimately seeking the affirmation of God for her refusal to submit to the very law He wrote on her heart, this quest will remain agonizingly futile.

UPDATE: By popular demand, I have embedded below an audio file of a lengthy excerpt of Dr. Oliveto’s “Public Theology” event that day. This segment includes her quote about the “bad churches” and her a bit later making ad hominem attacks of these congregations allegedly being less Methodist than herself, as well as several other key remarks noted above. I apologize for the audio quality not being clearer, but it is clear enough, with good headphones, in many places. 

  1. Comment by Eternity Matters on January 28, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    The UMC lets people be Bishop shouldn’t even be accepted as members, i.e., non-Christians still shaking their Romans 1 fists at God.

  2. Comment by Gregg on January 28, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    The half empty church she is “preaching” to, if that is in fact her in the attached picture, says a lot.

  3. Comment by Xerxesfire on January 29, 2017 at 1:23 am

    Gregg, I thought the same thing. That’s the one good thing about liberal churches today – they are dying out! Time to separate the chaff from the wheat! People need to hear the unadulterated Gospel message, not some namby pamby social gospel dreck sermon! I, for one, am so sick of messages where stories are told, but little Scripture is read. Where I am told to serve the downtrodden, but not told how to fight spiritual darkness or how to grow as a Christian. Yes, we need to help those who are less fortunate, true, but it’s not the only emphasis of being a Christian. It’s just one component of our faith. Churches need to be proclaiming the message of freedom in knowing Christ; preaching Christ and Him crucified; salvation of souls, how to share the Gospel message with others, etc. If they did this, their churches would be full and overflowing as they once may have been a century ago. These liberal churches need to die out and fade away and make room for new life to spring up and take root and flourish.

  4. Comment by apriluser on January 29, 2017 at 9:45 am

    Hopefully, If we are living into the transforming power of the Spirit, we won’t have to be told to help the downtrodden, it will be a natural response to God’s indwelling in our lives.

  5. Comment by Xerxesfire on January 29, 2017 at 10:23 pm

    Very true!

  6. Comment by Susan Dunlap on March 31, 2018 at 10:01 pm

    Your reply is so right on the mark…we hear every single week about love…as if we were children….i want to know what the Bible says about the Armor of GOD, how to fight spiritual darkness, know what is coming n how to take a firm stand….not how I should invite my neighbor, grocer…you get the message. May I use some of your quotes on this subject ?
    Karen Oliveto is on a dangerous mission and its not GOD’S mission. We are losing members in our church because of these LGBTQ acceptance indoctrinations..er…i mean”meetings”…then you read about Oliveto calling Jesus a racist among other names..these pastors better get a backbone n stand together against this woman and others like her. We will all be turned in for not being “Good christians” in the end times by people like Oliveto simply for believing in GOD’S word. She is leading people astray by trying to normalize a sinful lifestyle by naming n shaming. It’s the ultimate weapon of the liberal.

  7. Comment by Dawn M. Flower Blundell on April 4, 2017 at 9:44 am

    I have contacted the church in question to find out how many people were in attendance that day, and how many are normally present. We shall see. 🙂

  8. Comment by Tom on May 7, 2017 at 2:52 am

    Have they not responded?

  9. Comment by Dawn on May 8, 2017 at 5:15 pm

    No, not a word :-(. It was a holiday weekend, and the photo is from very near the front which we all know is generally deserted in our churches, but still…no clear information. I do know that, before becoming Bishop, Karen Oliveto led a church with over 2000 in average attendance, with vast associated ministries, and routinely spoke in various venues that were full to bursting. That doesn’t necessarily mean that this particular sermon was well-attended.

  10. Comment by RonT on January 28, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    Jesus compliments the Church in Ephesus: ” I know your deeds, your labor, and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate those who are evil, and you have tested and exposed as liars those who falsely claim to be apostles.” (Revelation 2:2) This is what Jesus would expect to have Christians do.

    Sadly, the UMC is slow to correct or (in many cases) condones teaching and practices which are in direct conflict with the Discipline and more importantly, with Scripture. Bishop Oliveto is clearly in conflict with her Ordination vows which should be cause for immediate dismissal.

    There are too many pastors and top level management who steadily bring error into the UMC’s practices. These are people who have decided to blatantly violate their vows and as such have disqualified themselves from from holding the position they occupy. The problem is that they will not do the honorable thing and leave.

  11. Comment by apriluser on January 29, 2017 at 12:05 am

    My husband (a UM elder) and I attended the Montana Wesleyan Methodist “caucus” today. Those that attended (there were several from other denominations who are concerned about the UMC or have left the UMC and now attend other evangelical and orthodox churches) were challenged to discern the truth via-a-via the “fake” news that we are fed regarding human sexuality by UM leadership. There is so much wrong with the UMC that my heart wonders “can this marriage be saved?” We presently attend an Anglican Church (ACNA) and rejoice in the orthodoxy with which this church approaches Scripture. We spend no energy on issues that are clearly defined in Scrioture. Instead, we are moving forward in ministry to our community and the world. We pray for the UMC but feel time is wasting away and the world desperately needs the Gospel. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

  12. Comment by Xerxesfire on January 29, 2017 at 1:10 am


    Good for you and your spouse for leaving an apostate conference of the UMC. I hold ACNA in high regard, especially in light of leaving the liberal TEC. As for the UMC, the mighty ship may be split in two between the liberals and conservatives. Fortunately, the Africans with their conservative theology have made a stand at the last General Conference, along with other evangelicals within the church. How long this will last is anyone’s guess, but in the meantime, conservatives may continue to leave as they feel led. I am troubled by the UMC’s lack of discernment on some issues, especially looking the other way with marrying couples who already live together and the liberal conferences where LGBT clergy are openly allowed. This is a travesty. We are truly living in the End Times on earth as foretold in the Bible. Kyrie Eleison!

  13. Comment by CDGingrich on February 4, 2017 at 9:50 am

    My wife and I have moved from 15 years in the UMC to the Wesleyan church. Very refreshing to worship and work with Bible believers.

  14. Comment by Dawn M. Flower Blundell on April 4, 2017 at 10:31 am

    I am so sorry that you feel this way, April. I assure you, what people are saying about human sexuality is not fake news, but based in real science, Biblical study, and the attitude and priorities of Jesus Christ as clearly defined in Scripture. We spend energy here, because we continue to see people — and the church as a whole — deeply harmed by bad theology. If we are to be true to the vows we made at baptism, membership, and ordination, then we cannot stand idly by while the rotten fruits of this bad theology are exposed. I know that you (and everyone else commenting here) disagree with all of that, but please know that our convictions come out of our deep faith.

  15. Comment by the_enemy_hates_clarity on January 29, 2017 at 7:36 am


    1. Any complaint that a UM pastor is in a same sex relationship or conducted a same sex wedding is immediately referred to a 3 member panel set up by General Conference.

    2. A hearing is held within 3 months of filing.

    3. The respondent is asked about the situation. Failure to answer directly is considered an admission.

    4. If convicted, there is an immediate 1 year suspension. After one year, if there is sufficient evidence of repentance, the suspension is lifted. A 2d offense brings a permanent loss of clergy rights.

    This would take some constitutional amendments to install, but once implemented, the problem would be quickly resolved, and we could stop wasting time and money on these issues.

    In Christ,

    The enemy hates clarity

  16. Comment by Dawn M. Flower Blundell on April 19, 2017 at 9:50 am

    A modest response:

    1. Any complaint regarding a UM pastor in a same sex relationship is immediately put aside as not being in accordance with scripture.

    2. No hearing is necessary, because there is no scriptural basis for punishing a same sex relationship.

    3. etc.

  17. Comment by James McKinney on January 29, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    I have a hard time understanding gay/lesbian thinking and Christianity. The Episcopal and Presbyterian USA (PCUSA) churches now accept and promote homosexuality. How come these people do not join these churches if that is their life style? It seems they are not happy unless they are shoving their agenda down everyone’s throat. I did belong to the PCUSA but, left because of their support of this life style and acceptance of abortion. Don’t get me wrong, I am a sinner and in need of Christ’s love and forgiveness of my sins.

  18. Comment by Emanuelle on February 5, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    “It seems they are not happy unless they are shoving their agenda down everyone’s throat.” That is the true, unspoken goal of the homosexual-normalization movement. They don’t want to be free to do what they want. They want everyone else to affirm what they do.

  19. Comment by Dawn M. Flower Blundell on April 4, 2017 at 9:47 am

    Well, I imagine they stay because they love their church and feel called — as we vow in our baptism and our membership vows — to strengthen and uphold it, rather than abandon it…resisting evil in all its forms and defending it against unsound doctrines.

  20. Comment by Puddleglumm on January 29, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    Bottom line. An unbeliever and practicing homosexual is a Bishop in the church. We need to start calling them what they are….HERETICS and FALSE TEACHERS.

  21. Comment by Nutstuyu on January 30, 2017 at 10:00 am

    LOL what a huge crowd at the vibrant progressive church! Obviously “Bishop” Oliveto is right on!!

  22. Comment by Dawn M. Flower Blundell on April 4, 2017 at 9:50 am

    It IS fun to take photos 3 rows from the front, where no one sits, making a full church look empty. The crowd sounds in the recording must have been fake. Right, John?

  23. Comment by Dawn M. Flower Blundell on April 24, 2017 at 11:12 am

    You do realize that, until last year, she pastored a church with over 2000 in worship each Sunday, right? And had done so for many years? And had seen it grow under her leadership, together with vast associated ministries?

  24. Comment by AprilUser on December 8, 2018 at 1:09 am

    Dawn, the current bishop of the conference that Glide church is in has had to approach the church to see if they even want to stay in the UMC. Glide is so theologically obtuse that even a liberal bishop has had to raise serious questions about the churches theology!

  25. Comment by Roger on January 30, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    The following statement from the article is most revealing and pertinent to Oliveto: But to the extent that Karen Oliveto is really ultimately seeking the
    affirmation of God for her refusal to submit to the very law He wrote
    on her heart, this quest will remain agonizingly futile. She is the one who is in slavery. She has not become a valid believer in Jesus Christ to be a new creature. It is apparent she does not want to be freed from the sin that she advocates and lives. The real tragedy is that she is leading others into the same sin that she abides in. It seems also, she is aware of God’s word against her lifestyle. Her main sin is “unbelief”, and she has said “no” to God. By unbelief she condemns herself.

  26. Comment by Skipper on January 31, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    What makes a person think they can live like this and be in a good relationship with God? As a trained person, she knows about Ahab and Jezebel and what happened to them. Methodists have always been a moral people and John Wesley stressed a holy lifestyle. The wheels of our judicial system turn slowly, but they do turn. Her removal seems the only just thing to do. God expects us to stand up and be counted, not look the other way and pretend such ungodliness is not there.

  27. Comment by Dawn M. Flower Blundell on April 4, 2017 at 9:49 am

    🙂 And what did Ahab and Jezebel do, that relates to Karen Oliveto?

  28. Comment by Skipper on April 4, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    Ahab and Jezebel worshiped Baal.

  29. Comment by Dawn M. Flower Blundell on April 4, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    That was part of their problem, yes. How does that relate to Bishop Oliveto?

  30. Comment by Skipper on April 5, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    Baal Worship includes sexual perversion. This person is self-admitted to same. Such acts are un-natural and immoral. This person totally disrespects the Christian and Methodist way of life, which includes holy living. We can’t live her life for her. Some choose a life of debauchery over following Christ. We have a responsibility to warn these of what they are doing to themselves – that is destroying their relationship with God. Methodists and other Christians do not condone homosexually or other immoral acts. Those groups that do mock God, but this life will be “gone in an instant.” Where will they run in that day?

  31. Comment by Dawn M. Flower Blundell on April 13, 2017 at 9:19 am

    Hmmm. OK. So, it’s likely that Baal worship included temple prostitutes and religious ceremonies that included sex…most religions did. So, maybe? But there is zero mention in Scripture of how Ahab and Jezebel worshipped Baal, other than murdering Yahweh’s prophets. Ahab and Jezebel were idolators, thieves, and murderers. That, specifically, is what they were punished by God for. Zero mention of any sort of “perversion”, and being a married gay person wouldn’t have fallen anywhere near the category of sexual fertility rites. I think we may be reading into Ahab and Jezebel’s story a whole lot of things that aren’t there.

    Homosexuality is natural. It is a part of nature in hundreds of species, and has been recorded in human history for millennia. One may consider it immoral, but it is clearly natural.

    Bishop Oliveto does not ask anyone to “live her life for her.” I’m not even sure what that means.

    Being a married gay person is not “debauchery.”

    Consider her, and other gay people, well and truly warned. They have heard it plenty. You can relax now, good and faithful servant.

    The one and only scripture that mentions “mocking” God is Galatians 6:7, after Paul spends the entire letter convincing the church at Galatia to focus on the good news of Jesus Christ rather than being enslaved to the law. He contrasts a life of self-serving earthly interests with God-serving loving of one another. If you sow things of earth, which are temporary and die, then that is all you will reap. If you don’t grow weary of doing good, by contrast, you please the Spirit and gain eternal life. No mention of “perversion” or homosexuality anywhere.

  32. Comment by Skipper on April 13, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    God is pretty straight forward in His book, the Holy Bible, so don’t let people trick you. God is holy and Jesus said we are to be holy too.

    Listen for natural / not natural in this:

    Romans1:26 CEV “God let them follow their own evil desires. Women no longer wanted to have sex in a natural way, and they did things with each other that were not natural.”

    This verse clearly describes same-sex relationships as evil and un-natural. Consider living as God intended. One day you will be very glad!

  33. Comment by Dawn M. Flower Blundell on April 13, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    Does that passage explain what it means by “unnatural”? Could be anything, really…

  34. Comment by Skipper on April 17, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    It explains quite well. The choice is yours, but I would keep John 3:19 in mind:

    “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” ESV

    Or in the CEV: “The light has come into the world, and people who do evil things are judged guilty because they love the dark more than the light.”

    Also remember 2 Corinthians 5:9: “We make it our goal to please the Lord.”

  35. Comment by Dawn M. Flower Blundell on April 18, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    Amen, all of that is true. The passage in question is still not about gay people in loving, faithful relationships.

  36. Comment by Skipper on April 18, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    You can ignore the bible on this being evil and un-natural if you want to, but a more excellent way would be to turn back to God!

    “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Cor 6:2

  37. Comment by Dawn M. Flower Blundell on April 19, 2017 at 9:38 am

    We are constantly in scripture on this issue, my friend, and are persuaded by this that the church needs to follow the more excellent way and turn back to God, away from its sinful cruelty and pride.

  38. Comment by Rev. Dr. Terril D. Littrell on February 4, 2017 at 3:07 am

    We seem to be headed down the same path as the Episcopal Church.

  39. Comment by apriluser on February 5, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    And so many other mainline churches.

  40. Comment by Rev. Dr. Terril D. Littrell on February 6, 2017 at 12:48 am

    Peter Leithart’s book, The End of Protestantism, is a serious work of persuasion to convince the rest of us that we miss our Savior’s heart if we rest content with and in our entrenched denominations.

  41. Comment by virginiagentleman on February 4, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    This is only one reason why I don’t send any money to Garrett-Evangelical.

  42. Comment by Rev. Dr. Terril D. Littrell on February 6, 2017 at 1:21 am

    The End of Protestantism is the long-awaited expansion of the provocative shorter remarks Peter Leithart has made in this vein over the past few years. He hasn’t exactly softened his tone. Here, he announces, “Jesus bids Protestantism to come and die.” But there is more: “He calls us to exhibit the unity that the Father has with the Son in the Spirit.” That is, “we are called by our crucified Lord to die to what we are now so that we may become what we will be.” What draws all of Leithart’s arguments forward is essentially a syllogism: Jesus prays for the church’s unity, and Jesus will get what he prays for, so the church will be united.

  43. Comment by Genesis M Granadosin on February 9, 2017 at 12:21 am

    This is a paradigm of an ideology that does not conform to the basic Methodist teachings and principles.
    The UMC Western Jurisdiction should separate and form their own Church. Quite frankly, the Western Jurisdiction is financially dependent on the conservative UMC jurisdictions. This has to end, so that this issue that continues to divide the church for almost 45 years will be closed.

  44. Comment by bostic on February 19, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    Liberalism is the new gospel for these folks

  45. Comment by Dawn M. Flower Blundell on April 4, 2017 at 9:51 am

    Old, old, old eternal Gospel. Very Wesleyan, too.

  46. Comment by JoeMudd on April 12, 2017 at 5:32 am

    And exactly where in that old old old gospel does it condone homosexuality?

  47. Comment by Dawn M. Flower Blundell on April 13, 2017 at 12:08 am

    Oh, nowhere. The Bible also does not condone pet ownership, painting, living in apartments, wearing jewelry, representative democracy, or a whole host of perfectly ordinary and even beneficial things.

  48. Comment by Dawn M. Flower Blundell on April 13, 2017 at 11:30 am

    But I wasn’t referring to homosexuality, specifically. I was answering your “liberalism” comment. Considering that literally every single prophet in the Old Testament, the majority of Jesus’ own ministry and teaching, and several of the letters of Paul, Peter, James, and John all focus a great deal of their energy on caring for the poor and the stranger, healing the illnesses of those too poor to afford doctors, and advocating against amassing wealth (I mean really, there are hundreds of passages), it seems pretty clear to me that the old, old, eternal Gospel is extremely liberal (as folks today generally define it). And then, of course, there is Jesus’ and Paul’s repeated disregard of religious law and advocacy of the principle of loving one another above all else…which defines liberalism pretty well, too. 🙂

  49. Comment by JoeMudd on April 16, 2017 at 3:24 am

    Lovely, You’ve painted Jesus as a communist. I’m sorry but glossing over
    the Gospel and adding up scripture out of context just does not cut it.
    So in the same way I can talk about all the scriptures that speak of
    responsibility, profit, buying and selling land and a host of others that
    show the Gospel as a conservative capitalistic masterpiece.

  50. Comment by Dawn M. Flower Blundell on April 18, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    Lol what? How have I “painted” Jesus as anything? I just mentioned actual scriptures, commands of Jesus and the prophets, etc. If that is communist, then I suppose its the Bible painting Jesus that way, not me.

  51. Comment by JoeMudd on April 19, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    Like I said GLOSS OVER. Chapter and verse and context. That is where the meaning is in scripture. Study to show yourselves approved, I read that somewhere.
    Take Romans 1 to the bank.

  52. Comment by Dawn M. Flower Blundell on April 20, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    Yeeees, context is critical. Romans 1 is about lustful behavior, sinful in any context. For further context, all of Romans 1 leads into Romans 2: “therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others.” I will take all of that right to the bank. None of it has any bearing on gay people in loving, committed relationships.

  53. Comment by JoeMudd on April 21, 2017 at 12:21 am

    Bullshit! THAT is a WRONG reading of Romans 2 It has everything to do with and is EXACTLY pointed at the homosexual who has abandoned the TRUTH of who they were created to be and exchanged it for a LIE
    Rom 1 18-27. Explicitly in V 26.
    NOWHERE in Rom 2 does it say you are released from Rom 1 it does however condemn those who Judge while doing the same things, making hypocrites of themselves.
    Homosexuality excludes you from serving in the Church. IT is in contradiction to the sound doctrine of Titus 1 7-9. Also is a violation of the prerequisites of 1 Tim 3:2-7 as, to serve as an Overseer/Bishop you must be the husband (a male first of all, for a woman cannot be a husband) and also must have obedient respectful children which is a sign HE can Oversee the Church.
    So once again the Methodists that condone this CRAP are in error pure and simple.
    Family man with one wife and children are the prerequisites to leadership in the church.
    (that’s a period there.) Unfortunately there are a lot of single men in leadership in this ridiculous non-biblical, anti-Wesley church
    and that too is not according to scripture. So if you are offended at the exclusion of homosexuals then you can stand next to unmarried without children wanna-be pastors as well.

  54. Comment by Dawn M. Flower Blundell on April 21, 2017 at 9:33 am

    Aha, alrighty. I see where you are coming from. I am sorry you feel this way. I will note, for the record, that your insistence that anyone in leadership be married (for example) flies in the face of 2000 years of church history, the writings of Paul, and the example of Jesus.

  55. Comment by Dawn M. Flower Blundell on April 21, 2017 at 9:35 am

    Which is why proof-texting Titus (or anything else) without context leads us wildly astray.

  56. Comment by Dawn M. Flower Blundell on April 21, 2017 at 9:44 am

    Also, one last thing: John Wesley spent most of his life and ministry as a single, unmarried, childless pastor. And he readily put women in church leadership, even as preachers in his churches. 🙂

  57. Comment by JoeMudd on April 22, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    I didn’t write the rules and I am certainly not the one who is BENDING them to suit my errant life choice. Paul did not marry because he knew he was going to martyr, who would do that to their wife?. Jesus was the messiah the Son of God His purpose here was not carnal and He was married to the church and gave His life for us. By the way I cited Titus and Timothy IN CONTEXT
    entirely. Wesley was wrong on a lot of things, as we all are, then
    changed as he went along. He started out as Arminian and switched
    to Calvin later as well. Homosexuality however is not debatable, the
    Word is clear.
    I look forward to Oliveto’s visit to our BAD church, but I understand
    she is allotting a whole 15 to 20 min. for the stop. What the hell is
    this a tour done by bus schedule? A discussion on splitting has
    already begun. Methodism is dying right before our eyes.

  58. Comment by Dawn M. Flower Blundell on April 22, 2017 at 7:54 pm

    Lol and what exactly is my errant life choice, pray tell?

  59. Comment by JoeMudd on April 25, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    You condone homosexuality.

  60. Comment by JoeMudd on April 25, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    I prefer she would resign, step down, renounce homosexuality, In the name of Jesus. As per the Gospel.

  61. Comment by Dawn M. Flower Blundell on April 21, 2017 at 10:51 am

    By the way, the fact that there are plenty of scriptures about hard work, responsibility, buying and selling land does not negate the fact that there are also plenty of scriptures — honestly, hundreds, in both he old and the new testaments — that are extremely clear about our responsibility to care for the poor, welcome the stranger, heal the sick, etc. The two are not mutually exclusive concepts. Cannot have one without the other, and call oneself a follower of Jesus.

  62. Comment by Jaime on May 2, 2017 at 11:36 pm

    Hey John, would you mind posting a link to the audio recording, or maybe a transcript, of the “bad churches” lecture at Garrett? In the great many links provided above, I didn’t see it. Must have been an oversight. We would sure appreciate it.

  63. Comment by John Lomperis on May 3, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    Fair question, Dawn. Will look into it!

  64. Comment by John Lomperis on May 3, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    I normally don’t get into the comments – let alone when one person feels the need to post 80 comments within the last month! 🙂 But FWIW, I’ve updated with audio above. Now no more feeding.

  65. Comment by Rev Dawn Blundell on May 3, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    80 comments?? Wow, guess I have been having a lot of interesting conversations here. There has been a lot to dig into. :-). Thanks for your response. By the way, your reply was to a friend who was also interested, so he thanks you as well!

  66. Comment by Hilda Barnes on May 3, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    Baptism and membership vows mean nothing without repentance and acceptance and following the teachings of The Bible.

  67. Comment by David Fournier on May 4, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    This was a well written article and well supported as needed. You don’t see many people too concerned about giving a fair picture anymore, so I applaud your efforts. I guess my big take away here is balance… there is a pressing need within the church to explore, understand and show care towards the LGBT community (I think I missed a “Q” in there) and at the same time, not blow fire flames on the people who have carried the church for all these years,,,

  68. Comment by Rev Dawn M Flower Blundell on May 10, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    You might consider taking a look at the various links posted in the article, David. After reading them myself, I found that only a tiny portion of them supported what John is saying here, and in the most trivial cases. I suspect that the author didn’t expect most people would actually click on them.

  69. Comment by Rev Dawn M Flower Blundell on May 10, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    I’ve done my best with the first 4 minutes of the recording. It is much longer, nearly 20 minutes, and I’m sure that there is some fun stuff in the rest of it as well…but I do have a job to do at some point and can only devote so much time to this, haha.

    The takeaway: every good lie has a kernel of truth. The parts I couldn’t make out are marked with a […]

    Questioner: Thank you for being with us today, my name is […] seminary student. For all of us here, […] what spiritual practices, what do you do to sustain you?

    Bishop Oliveto: Thank you, great question. First, you need to know this. I have, in the past, received lots of hate mail. I mean, lots. Over the course of my ministry, I’ve received death threats, I’ve received…Since my election, I’ve received hundreds of emails and notes from around the world, people telling me the most amazing stories […] saying, “thank you, you’ve given me hope”, “my kids are going back to church”, “my family now sees what it means to have community.” I’ve received 14 […]. Which says to me that people in the pew are in a different place than our polity and [inaudible, vote count?]. But either I [inaudible, something about email] or, I’ve visited 280 churches, I’ve received 4 that did not want me to be there, 1 that I thought I was going to be […] murdered. That does soul damage. It does soul damage. I have…Since saying yes to this, the Holy Spirit has been so present, and so […]. I do a couple of things for myself. I work out every single day. For me, that is a spiritual discipline I have in my body. And I can tell you, one of the things I really love is boxing (laughter). It’s the […] (more laughter). But after one of the bad churches, or the hard churches, I realized I needed a spiritual director, so I reached out to someone I was in seminary with who had a similar road […] in her denomination, so I knew that she knew some of what I was going through. And that’s been very very helpful. The other thing though, God has given me this incredible gift in my prayer life. The image, the metaphor God has given me, because…I know a lot has been written about me. Not by anybody who has talked to me (laughter), right? But they say a lot of things about me and what I’m doing to the church. But the image God gave me, and I use this every day, is a lightning rod. That I know they know I’m the lightning rod. That a lot of energy is coming to me, and I’m holding a lot for the church. But here’s the thing about a lightning rod: it can receive all this energy, but as long as it stays grounded, the lightning rod stays whole. And the house stays whole. So I know I’m sort of a lightning rod. Robin and I laugh every day. That’s one of our spiritual disciplines: we laugh.

    That’s the 4 minute mark. Tell me, by this transcript, does his characterization of her comments sound anything like the truth?

  70. Comment by Jason on February 6, 2019 at 11:49 am

    She (not a “he”) has 2,000 listening to her sermon! wow! We shall do what is popular and fun and cool!
    Well Lucifer has millions of followers! The devil is coming for Jesus strongest churches! If weak it will fall, just like the devil wants it! The end is coming…

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