Acknowledging that “usual approaches … have failed to end the discrimination that is destroying our church,” the group “Love Prevails” has announced a new campaign to secure “the complete removal of all discriminatory language against LGBT people in The Book of Discipline.” In a flier distributed at the Council of Bishops meeting at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, advocates charged that “for longer than the Israelites wandered in the wilderness the United Methodist Church has systematically and categorically denied the full humanity of LGBT people.”
Love Prevails is a program ministry of Kairos CoMotion that was founded out of the support team for the Rev. Amy DeLong at her June 2011 trial in Wisconsin for performing a same-sex union and being a self-avowed practicing homosexual. Love Prevails is the same group that organized and prosecuted the demonstration on the floor of General Conference 2012 in Tampa, Florida.
Love Prevails is proposing a three-part strategy “to abolish the policies of discrimination against LGBT people.” The strategy is to disclose(t), divest, and disrupt.
Disclose(t). The group promises to “speak out publicly about our lives, our families, our friends, and our ministries” and “claim equality for ourselves and our LGBT brothers and sisters.” They also plan to “no longer self-censor” when they conduct same-gender unions and weddings. They will thereby increase their public advocacy and disclosure of acts of disobedience, as well as continuing to forcefully lobby for a change in the church’s teaching on homosexuality.
Divest. In a break with tradition, Love Prevails pledges to “redirect our time and treasure to efforts aimed at ending discrimination against LGBT people,” forsaking their “loyalty to the institution.” In supporting the church with prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness, they believe they are “complicit with policies and practices [they] believe to be both un-Christian and unconscionable.” Thus, they plan to withhold apportionments from parts of the church they deem to be discriminatory.
Disrupt. The final prong of the Love Prevails strategy is to “protest and disrupt local, national, and global events” and “undermine all policies that limit or deny the full participation of LGBT united Methodists in the life of the church.” “The time for polite persuasion has passed,” they believe. They plan to “stand in the way of business as usual,” including a pledge to disrupt the 2016 General Conference in Portland, Oregon.
The Connectional Table (CT) this week felt the first application of this strategy of disruption. As the CT began its meeting, members of Love Prevails sang and spoke over those who were leading the meeting. Love Prevails would not allow the meeting to continue until the CT had changed its agenda to create time for discussion on the issue of LGBTQ inclusion. (It is difficult to see how one could call what took place at the CT meeting “Christian conferencing.”)
Bishop Bruce Ough, CT chairperson, is quoted as saying, “There are many places where we have not created the settings where we can listen deeply and profoundly enough” and get a “sense of what God is calling us to do.”
With all due respect, we have had many years of studies, conversations, dialogs, and times of holy conferencing. All of this discussion has bent over backwards to include GLBTQ persons and even at times been rather one-sided in presenting a more permissive viewpoint (such as at the recent CT meeting). Despite all the discussions and dialogs, The United Methodist Church has remained consistently opposed to condoning homosexual behavior.
However, those promoting the acceptance of homosexual practice will not accept the outcome of decades of holy conferencing. In their minds, they have the only right answer, and they are going to keep pushing, by force if necessary, until the church agrees to their demands. Friends, it is not that we haven’t talked about this issue enough; it is that some people don’t like how the conversation came out.
If it were evangelicals who were advocating the withholding of apportionments and disrupting meetings to try to force our viewpoint on the church, we would be roundly (and rightly) condemned by the church. However, because many of our church’s leaders favor the LGBTQ cause, they are not speaking out against the bullying tactics being employed by groups like Love Prevails. There is a difference between convincing people and intimidating people by force to attempt to change their minds. As long as our church leaders allow this coercion to continue, our church will be held hostage to an ideological agenda that is a distortion of the Gospel.
One mourns the loss of church time and resources because some people are unable to live within our United Methodist covenant. They should have the freedom to practice ministry however they feel led — outside The United Methodist Church. However, they do not have the right to force their opinions on the rest of a global church, simply because they disagree with Scripture and 2,000 years of Christian teaching. For all our sakes, it is time for our church’s leaders to stand up with clarity and firmness to prevent our church from being hijacked by an intolerant and divisive ideology.