In the February General Conference in St. Louis, will the LGBTQ Agenda usurp the will of the majority of 12.3 million United Methodists worldwide?

LGBTQ UMC Agenda: Organized, Strategic, Funded and Powerful

Lee Cary and Philip McLarty on January 22, 2019

UM Voices is a forum for different voices within the United Methodist Church on pressing issues of denominational concern. UM Voices contributors represent only themselves and not IRD/UMAction.

Rev. Dr. Lee D. Cary served 25 years as a United Methodist pastor in Northern Illinois and North Texas. He holds a Masters in Theology (’74) and a Doctor of Sacred Theology (’79) from the UMC’s Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.

Rev. Dr. Philip W. McLarty has served 24 years as a UMC pastor, and 22 years as a pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA). He holds a Masters in Theology (’74) and a Doctor of Ministry (’81) from the UMC’s Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, Texas. Today, as a retired Presbyterian minister, he pastors two United Methodist congregations in rural Arkansas.

On December 2, 2018, Bishop William Love of the Albany Diocese of the Episcopal Church (TEC) announced in a Pastoral Letter that he would not abide by a new TEC provision banning Bishops from prohibiting their Priests from conducting same sex marriages. [Editor’s note: you can read about Love’s subsequent partial inhibition from ministry by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry here]

He stated: “The Episcopal Church and Western Society have been hijacked by the ‘Gay Rights Agenda’ which is very well organized, very strategic, very well financed, and very powerful.”

How does Bishop Love’s letter, with its scathing accusation of the LGBTQ Agenda, apply to the United Methodist Church today?

Strategy: Early Release of the LGBTQ Agenda Strategy

The LGBTQ agenda is laid out, point by point, in an essay by Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen (pen name: Erastes Phil) entitled, “The Overhauling of Straight America” published in November, 1987 in Guide Magazine. An April 2014 Christian Post article referred to this essay as “The Most Influential Essay You’ve Never Heard Of.” Kirk and Madsen expanded it into a 1989 book entitled, “After the Ball – How America will conquer its fear and hatred of Gays in the 1990s.”

Here is how the essay began:

“The first order of business is desensitization of the American public concerning gays and gay rights. To desensitize the public is to help it view homosexuality with indifference instead of with keen emotion… [I]f only you can get them to think that it is just another thing, with a shrug of their shoulders, then your battle for legal and social rights is virtually won… A large-scale media campaign will be required in order to change the image of gays in America.” {snip}

“While public opinion is one primary source of mainstream values, religious authority is the other. When conservative churches condemn gays, there are only two things we can do to confound the homophobia of true believers. First, we can use talk to muddy the moral waters. This means publicizing support for gays by more moderate churches, raising theological objections of our own about conservative interpretations of biblical teachings, and exposing hatred and inconsistency. Second, we can undermine the moral authority of homophobic churches by portraying them as antiquated backwaters, badly out of step with the times and with the latest findings of psychology. Against the mighty pull of institutional Religion one must set the mightier draw of Science & Public Opinion (the shield and sword of that accursed ‘secular humanism’). Such an unholy alliance has worked well against churches before, on such topics as divorce and abortion.” {snip}

“In any campaign to win over the public, gays must be cast as victims in need of protection so that straights will be inclined by reflex to assume the role of protector… Now, there are two different messages about the Gay Victim that are worth communicating. First, the mainstream should be told that gays are victims of fate, in the sense that most never had a choice to accept or reject their sexual preference… The second message would portray gays as victims of society.”

Tactics: LGBTQ’s Escalating Demonstrations at General Conferences 2000-2016

An October 25, 2018 article posted on the Canada Free Press describes how, “Activists within the United Methodist Church (UMC), America’s second largest Protestant denomination, are using the tactics of the American political Left to leverage a major change in their church.”

Those tactics include:

“(A.) Labels as propaganda

The label ‘One Church Plan’ conveys a spirit of wholeness and unity—the absence of division. All for one, and one for all. “Progressive,” a word applied to the advocates of the One Church Plan, implies forward looking, advancing into the future, moving ahead into a brave new world.

The label ‘Traditional Plan” suggests fixed, routine, and outdated. The church blue hairs. When ‘progressive’ is juxtaposed against ‘traditional’ it promotes the One Church Plan as open-minded, modern, contemporary, versus what is old, stale and close-minded.”

“(B.) Protest demonstrations as opinion-impact theatre”

The article includes a series of General Conference (GC) LGBTQ protest photos from 2000-2016. In the photo below, the Rev. Will Green lies on the floor of the 2016 General Conference in Portland with his hands and feet bound to protest the denomination’s policies on human sexuality. Delegates returning from lunch pass by protestors on the floor and lining the entry to the meeting.

“(C.) Escalate violations to test boundaries and challenge enforcement

Instances of violations of the UMC’s Book of Discipline concerning the ordination of homosexual clergy, and clergy conducting same sex marriage ceremonies are on the rise. They are largely ignored by the hierarchy, and worn as a badge of honor by the violators.”

The most publicized example of testing the boundaries of the UMC’s stated beliefs is the election of Bishop Karen Oliveto as the first openly lesbian bishop in The United Methodist Church.

Finances: Foundation grants to the LGBTQ UMC campaign

In any campaign, money translates into power. Below are grants from three foundations supporting the LGBTQ Agenda through the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN). The RMN describes itself as “the largest group of United Methodists in support of full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians.”

Based on publicly available IRS Form 990s from recent years, the RMN received grants from the:

  1. Arcus Foundation: “We partner with experts and advocates for change to ensure that LGBTQ people and our fellow apes thrive in a world where social and environmental justice are a reality.” From 2007-2018, the RMN received Arcus grants totaling $2,302,000. (In 2010, Arcus granted the Church Divinity School of the Pacific $404,351 “to develop official rites for the blessing of same-gender relationships within the Episcopal Church.” In 2017, Arcus granted the Pacific School of Religion (PSR) $140,000 between two grants for programming related to religious-based advocacy and activism, after giving PSR grants totaling $260,000 from 2011-2016. Karen Oliveto graduated from PSR in 1983 and later served as its Associate Dean of Academic Affairs.) Former RMN Executive Director Troy Plummer was quoted in 2012 saying, “We have been able to consider projects that we would have never considered before the funding from the Arcus Foundation. And they were intentionally strategic in wanting to build capacity of our organization, and that was very helpful, and it continues to be helpful in doing so.” (In 2011 Arcus also granted $240,000 to the Methodist Federation for Social Action “to advance the full inclusion of LGBT people of faith within the United Methodist Church [UMC] through a coalition of progressive justice organizations working within the UMC.”)
  2. National Gay & Lesbian Task Force: “Advances full freedom, justice and equality for LGBTQ people.” The Task Force granted the RMN $750,000 between 2008-2015. Of that total, $500,000 was regranted monies originally from the Evelyn & Walter Hass Jr. Fund.
  3. Evelyn & Walter Hass Jr. Fund: “Works in partnership to build a just and compassionate society where all people have the opportunity to live, work and raise their families with dignity.” The Hass, Jr. Fund directly granted the RMN $95,000 in 2017.

We can document $3,147,000 in grants to the RMN from three pro-LGBTQ Agenda foundations in recent years. But, what is the total amount of all grants since the organization’s Affirmation Meeting in September 1983?


So, does Episcopal Bishop Love’s letter, with its scathing accusation of the LGBTQ Agenda, apply to the United Methodist Church today?

His are strong words. Hijacking refers to instances where a well-organized, strategic and well-financed minority usurps the will of the majority to promote its own self-serving agenda.

In the February General Conference in St. Louis, will the LGBTQ Agenda usurp the will of the majority of 12.3 million United Methodists worldwide, whose faith is rooted in Scripture and Tradition, if a majority of the delegates vote to adopt the LGBTQ Agenda in the One Church Plan?


[NOTE: An earlier version of this article mistakenly misidentified some details about where and when Karen Oliveto went to seminary. This has been corrected. We regret the error.  –Eds.]

  1. Comment by April user on January 22, 2019 at 11:06 am

    You can’t have unity without holiness (statement adapted from NT Wright). The bishops trumpet the OCP as a way to stay unified. However, holiness (a word we rarely use anymore) will be out the window and disunity will continue to ensue.

  2. Comment by Randall Miller on January 22, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    I’m wondering if there’s going to be a follow-up article detailing the IRD and other conservative group’s reliance on support from conservative foundations with an agenda to impose a radical rightist agenda on the Church and the larger society. According to Wikipedia donors include the Scaife Foundations, the Bradley Foundation, the Olin Foundation and Howard and Roberta Ahmanson’s Fieldstead & Company.

  3. Comment by William on January 22, 2019 at 5:16 pm

    It is not the IRD and other conservative groups that are trying to bring idol worship and the subsequent following of its secular cultural agenda, an agenda that is contrary to the Word of God, into the UMC and place it alongside the worship of and following of God. Defending the church and the Word of God needs no follow-up since it is self explanatory. The irony — RMN is accepting money from secular organizations that are out to make Christianity irrelevant first and to destroy it finally. And they certainly would not be giving any money to the RMN or any other church group to be used for the preaching of repentance and salvation from the sins of sexual immorality.

  4. Comment by Mike on January 22, 2019 at 1:08 pm

    The Church formerly routinely stood against the world, the flesh, and the devil, and was routinely castigated. But today the Church no longer stands against anything, but seems to try to be in the forefront of societal “evolution”. It is no wonder that Christ so thoroughly condemned the Laodicean church. What few Christians realize is that that church represents the Christian Church today

  5. Comment by Jim Robert Tormey on January 22, 2019 at 3:59 pm

    I am not sure how the Bishops believe this will bring more unity to the denomination? Or, have they simply chosen to abandon the conservative side of the Church? If so, they are lost, and will pay a dear price for this support of sin. Can we really stand with the One Church Plan? I say no, disunity will be worse than ever under this plan. To think other wise is ignorance.

  6. Comment by Karole Fedrick on January 23, 2019 at 9:16 am

    By adopting political terms for theological issues, the Church has allowed itself to be politicized. It is not about conservative or progressive: it is about the truth and authority of the unchanging Word of God about our immutable God. The narrative needs to return to biblical and non-biblical.

  7. Comment by LaVerne Valdez on January 23, 2019 at 9:44 am

    The Simple Solution to this is for LGBT to form Their Own religion. Why should each group continue to impose their views on each other? The energy & money LGBT spends to impose their views, could be better spent to create their own path! The LGBT community Needs to focus on The Rights of others as well! Christians & other religions who follow ‘The Holy Scriptures’ have the rights to raise their children in an environment Free from contradiction to their beliefs. In my conclusion, the LGBT has its sight to take down Christianity itself, there is No other reason to be spending this kind of time, energy & money! LaVerne Valdez

  8. Comment by Mike on January 23, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    “In my conclusion, the LGBT has its sight to take down Christianity itself, there is No other reason to be spending this kind of time, energy & money! ” With that statement, you have captured the essence of this fight. The LBGT crowd, doesn’t want tolerance,-it wants absolute submission. “You will affirm out lifestyle, or else!” Nothing else will satisfy them.

  9. Comment by Paul York on January 23, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    If we look just a little deeper we will see
    that this movement benefits only one entity, the same one who benefits from the opiod crisis. SATAN.
    The One Church Plan will result in another Exodus. The exodus from the UMC.

  10. Comment by Tommye Jordan on January 23, 2019 at 7:12 pm

    The One Church Plan has left God, Lord Jesus & Holy Spirit OUT! Why do they not form a Social Club for their One Church Plan and leave the Traditional Methodist Church.that depends on God alone.

  11. Comment by Robert A Combes on January 26, 2019 at 3:13 pm

    they are seeking further validation for their behavior. Look at what happened to the Episcopal Church. attached is a list of where Churches presently stand:

  12. Comment by Bartolomeu Dias on January 23, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    How much money have Bishops received in order to forget their real responsibility for the Church?
    As everyone can see, if LGBT has got so much money, why don’t they use it to form their own denominations without causing so much friction and demages to this that they consider backward church?

    Our beloved church has been hijacked by these para shooters.

  13. Comment by aggiemae on January 23, 2019 at 5:34 pm

    so where does a conservative UMC person to go once the UMC church changes to the OCP? I’m at a loss of where I’ll worship? I know my pastor is a leader to be pushing everyone to the OCP. I’m disgusted with the farce of a unified UMC Church.

  14. Comment by Diane on April 12, 2019 at 11:00 am

    You don’t go anywhere. Senior citizen here who happens to be a longtime straight ally to the lgbt community. As such, I have privy to a reality conservatives choose (and it is a choice) not to acknowledge: lgbtq people are everywhere. Where there is condemnation, they remain closeted. But they’re still all around you – and furthermore, conservatives love them as long as they believe everyone in the conservative orbit is heterosexual. LGBT folks are born into UMC families everyday and try as you might, there’s no escaping this fact. You have a choice: worship in a traditional church where a condemning theological stance is prevalent, causing lgbtq people to be closeted (often trying to please you by marrying someone of the opposite sex, while cheating on their straight spouse) or worship in a reconciling congregation where there’s truth and honesty. As for me, I believe God is Spirit and those who worship God, worship God in spirit and in truth. Worshipping in a church that demands lgbtq people to deceive themselves and others is not a community built on truth. You will never find a church made up of just straight people, even if you think it is. I lived in a small southern town for fifty years and I knew – through my friendships within the lgbtq community – that the downtown “First UMC” congregation had a continual succession of closeted gay senior pastors, associate pastors, and youth ministers. No shortage of gay musicians either. A member of said congregation was a legislator who supported a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between “one man and one woman”. He was a clueless guy – never aware that his pastor was a gay man. And certainly never aware that the popular youth minister in his church, who had an equally popular wife, was gay and secretly involved (sexually) with several gay men in town.

    You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.

    BTW, I grew up in a church where my pastor was a closeted gay man. I dated his son while in high school and knew the family secret: pastor-dad always waited without fail to go to bed after his wife went to bed hours earlier and had fallen asleep. Everyone in the church thought it was a happy marriage – it was not. Pastor’s wife called out for her husband to come to bed every night, but to no avail. Why churches think it’s a good thing to believe homosexuality is evil is beyond me. It’s a biblical interpretation that breeds deception, encouraging lgbt people to live a lie. Both gay and straight people are victims. And straight people who foolishly think everyone around them must be straight (just like themselves) are laughed at for the hypocrites they are.

    Again, if you want to worship where there are no gay people, it ain’t possible. You could just stay home, but there’s no guarantee that everyone in your home is straight.

  15. Comment by Frank Brown on January 23, 2019 at 6:41 pm

    This quotation attributed to Vance Havner, a Baptist evangelist of a previous generation, may sum up quite well what we are facing in the UMC and in the Church at large:

    “The devil is not fighting religion. He’s too smart for that. He is producing a counterfeit Christianity so much like the real one that good Christians are afraid to speak out against it.”

  16. Comment by William on January 23, 2019 at 8:08 pm

    Satan has certainly lured too many of our UMC bishops into his trap. They are indeed peddling a counterfeit Christianity— one destined for hell. If that’s where they want to go, fine. But their efforts to take as many with them as possible throung this new counterfeit Christianity certainly shows who they are worshipping.

  17. Comment by Elaine Carlson on January 23, 2019 at 9:19 pm

    I think the Bishops are so weak in their faith they have been intimidated by the LBGTQ. We need to stand strong in God’s truth. We have only to answer to Him.

  18. Comment by LaVerne Valdez on January 23, 2019 at 9:42 pm

    Or perhaps the Bishops were One of “Them” All along. That’s what I suspect among The Catholic Church.

  19. Comment by LaVerne Valdez on January 24, 2019 at 10:52 pm

    Mark West, Regardless if the research is sloppy does Not change the conclusion, due to the Fact LGBT is Bent on destroying the Will of the People who wish to follow Gods Will. Their actions on where LGBT put their time, energy & money speaks for itself.

  20. Comment by Rev. Michael W. Gudka on January 30, 2019 at 11:10 am

    As Martin Luther said (prior to the Catholic / Protestant Split: “Peace if possible, truth at all costs.”

  21. Comment by Branden on January 30, 2019 at 2:12 pm

    WOW THAT ESSAY. That must be shared more, especially with younger believers (like me) who are more prone to emotional thinking and fall into the trap of this agenda.

  22. Comment by Lee D. Cary on February 27, 2019 at 7:12 am

    Post General Conference Comment: If you think the debate over LGBTQ marriage and ordination issues is over and done – think again.

    One thing is certain and consistent in the history of the Progressive (AKA “liberal” in the 20th Cen. use of the word) Movement in America: They collectively suffer from the hubris of knowing they alone are always right and righteous, hence they never, ever, give up, (except when confronted with the 21st Amendment and Prohibition.)

  23. Comment by David Staat on August 30, 2019 at 10:26 pm

    From my perspective, the attack on Christianity started with the birth of Christ and it will continue until Jesus come again. The way you can tell a real leader is the number of arrows in their back. The places where Christianity is grown today is where Christians are persecuted. It is my view that the churches in the US went to sleep allowing our culture to dominate the messages in our churches. It is time for a revival and this issue with sexual ethics might be the catalyst we need to renew our commitment to the Biblical teachings. I see the conflict in the denominations as a blessing. It is time to come awake as Christians and spread the word. God will take care of the rest.

  24. Comment by Hilda Bailey on September 11, 2019 at 12:27 pm

    Simply stated here…the UMC, large and small congregations, red, yellow, black and white congregants, male, female, ALL of us MUST return to the Bible, teach the truth, and, live righteously, or we will certainly, without a doubt, face God’s wrath. Homosexuality is a sin against God, and HIs teachings, and you cannot pretty it up, soften it up, or, color it differently. And, hell is REAL, my friends. I hope and pray that my church does not become politically correct in order to appease MAN. When we move God out of the equation, and become more concerned about what man thinks or wants of us, then we have already started down the slippery slope. And satan is at the end of the journey.

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