Institute on Religion & Democracy Press Release
Contact: Jeff Walton: (202)413-5639, [email protected]
Leaders of the United Methodist Church, gathered in five locations across the country this week for jurisdictional conferences to elect new bishops to steer America’s second-largest Protestant denomination.
These meetings made clear the denomination’s dramatically liberal new direction:
- The denomination is further liberalizing in what its top leaders believe and teach about Jesus Christ. Newly elected Bishop Kennetha Bigham-Tsai in the North Central Jurisdiction recently declared that in the UMC, “it is not important that we agree on who Christ is.” Newly elected Bishop Dottie Escobedo-Frank openly “calls for heretics … to lead the church forward.”
- Showing the new normal, a second openly partnered, gay activist bishop, Cedric Bridgeforth, was elected in the Western Jurisdiction, and a third came historically close to being elected in the Northeast, openly breaking longstanding rules banning “self-avowed, practicing homosexual” clergy. The growing caucus of gay activist bishops will increasingly redefine the denomination. But these gay activist bishops’ lavish, six-figure salaries are subsidized annually by apportionments taken from United Methodist offering plates across the country. Western Jurisdiction leaders electing such morally and legally unqualified bishops do not even pay entirely for their own choices.
- Litmus tests prevented any of the thirteen newly elected bishops from being a theological traditionalist who believes in historic, biblical Methodist doctrine about marriage being a covenant of one man and one woman. These liberal new bishops will replace several retired theologically conservative and moderate U.S. bishops.
- The formerly conservative-leaning Southeastern Jurisdiction elected liberal leader Tom Berlin as bishop. At the 2019 General Conference, Berlin notoriously characterized the denomination upholding traditional Christian values on marriage and sex as a sickening “virus” like Ebola. Since then, he was a leader in extracting deeply painful concessions from conservative United Methodists in exchange for a mutually acceptable separation plan. Then after those concessions were secure, he cynically betrayed his end of the bargain.
Furthermore, jurisdictional conferences across America, even in previously conservative Southern regions, adopted resolutions calling for effectively purging conservatives from denominational leadership (under the misleading pretext of denominational loyalty) and pushing immediate, de facto policy changes to disregard longstanding rules prohibiting same-sex weddings.
IRD UMAction Director John Lomperis commented:
“This is no longer your parents’ United Methodist Church. Left-wing radicalism and rude intolerance of moderate and conservative church members are now increasingly dominant.
“These decisions show that widespread claims that conservatives are ‘welcome to stay’ really mean that liberal leaders want to take our money, but not hear our input—taxation without representation.
“These shifts will encourage more congregations to join the growing exodus from the UMC into the new Global Methodist Church.”
(NOTE: This statement has been updated.)