IRD accuses United Methodist News Service of bias

A prominent staff member of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), a conservative advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., accused the United Methodist News Service (UMNS) of bias in their reporting yesterday in his blog post yesterday on the IRD blog, “Juicy Ecumenism.”

John Lomperis, UM Director for the Institute of Religion and Democracy. Photo provided by the IRD.

John Lomperis, United Methodist Director for the IRD, wrote that the recent story by UMNS writer Heather Hahn titled “Furor over block to gay candidate” (published on June 10) was tainted by too much reliance on reports from the Reconciling Ministries Network, thus failing to adequately cover the broader circumstances of the story. The story focused on the Southwest Texas Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry’s decision to rescind the candidacy of Mary Ann Kaiser and the call for a ruling by Bishop James E. Dorff on the legality of their decision.

Lomperis believed that the decision to focus on the details of the procedures, and to report on the supposed “furor” by advocates failed to acknowledge the full scope of issues behind the decision to deny Kaiser certification, such as Ms. Kaiser’s status as an open lesbian in a committed relationship who has written publicly about her desire to marry her partner in the coming months.  “The UMNS nowhere in the 1,651-word article makes any direct mention of Kaiser’s being very openly homosexually active…” Lomperis writes, “Nor does it make clear that the issue for opponents of Kaiser’s candidacy was not that she simply experiences same-sex attractions but rather her voluntarily chosen lack of sexual self-control.”

Lomperis believes that UMNS was too dependent on an intentional propaganda campaign by the Reconciling Ministries Network designed to push forward the agenda for full inclusion of GLBT persons in the United Methodist Church.

Lomperis writes: “Thus on a high-profile case related to an internal United Methodist controversy, the United Methodist News Service is now choosing to report in a way that amplifies RMN’s propaganda efforts, uncritically echoes RMN’s dishonest distortions of the facts, and misrepresents faithful United Methodists who support our denomination’s core doctrine and established covenantal standards. And after being respectfully informed of the factual problems with the article, UMNS chooses to not take corrective action, instead leaving the article online while knowing that this is misleading readers.”

In response to Lomperis’s accusations,  Tim Tanton, Executive Director of Content responded, “Church law charges United Methodist News Service with operating with editorial freedom as an independent news bureau. We take that responsibility seriously, and strive to be fair, accurate and balanced in everything we report. We thoughtfully consider every comment we receive.”

The United Methodist News Service is a division of United Methodist Communications, the official communications agency of the United Methodist Church.

Lomperis concludes his post by suggesting that UMNS credibility has been damaged.

“How can UMNS expect to earn the trust of the wider United Methodist public with reporting like this?” he asks.

Editor’s Note: The writer of this story contributed material used in the UMNS story, and we stand by our participation in its publication. 


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10 Comments on "IRD accuses United Methodist News Service of bias"

The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
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As a new reader of this site and publication, I must say that there is an unmistakable slant in reporting and articles on the current "culture" in general, nevermind what IRD says. I've read one other piece written by Heather Hahn(sp) and its bias was palpable. I suspect that journalism and writing graduates of the last decade or so are taught little on objectivity and lots about advocacy. I saw this position openly advocated by a professor at the Columbia School of Journalism. The saddest thing is that supposedly experienced and responsible editors allow this drivel to continue, some gullible… Read more »

In response to gracemcferrin: IRD does uphold the traditional Methodist biblical beliefs and our Discipline. Interesting that you consider these to be non-Christian.

If you want to see growth try visiting Southeastern Christian Church in Kentucky or Cornerstone Church in the Grand rapids area ( a UM Church). See what a Biblical based Christ centered church has to offer and why it grows.


I think that's a bit unfair, Jeremy. John Lomperis was simply asking that omitted information be added to the story. He was not asking to rewrite the story on behalf of IRD.


The only way IRD wouldn't criticize an official UMC action is if the entire UMNS article was lifted straight from the IRD's website. No bias there 😉


Anyone who expects a "house organ" like UMNS to be unbiased and objective deserves what they get. That is one reason that the UMR independent perspective is valuable.

Obviously, this is a delicate and volatile issue in the life of the church. It has been and will be for many years I suspect. That being said, I read the original article and the criticism of it is fair. There is a group in the church that is bothered greatly by how people of same-sex orientation are treated. However, the issue within the ecclesiastical ranks is, and has been consistently upheld to be, the only sexual activity condone is between married heterosexual couples. When I read the original article, I left it with the impression that Mary Ann Kaiser… Read more »

I find it somewhat ironic that you would choose to highlight Lomperis' opinion when your current policy for comments to your articles include avoiding comments that "Abuse. discriminate against, or attacks individuals or groups", when indeed that is what John Lompris is doing directly to Kaiser and many innocent group members. Why promote such bigotry?


Sounds like sour grapes.


The Institute on Religion and Democracy is neither religious nor democratic. They consistently act in a non-Christian way. Mary Ann Kaiser should have been ordained by the Southwest Texas Conference. Hopefully the Judicial Council will rule in a positive way or the next General Conference will change the book of discipline. The Methodist Church in the United States is slowly dwindling in size.


The "United" Methodist Church in the United States is slowly dwindling in size.

¡VIVA EL IRD y la Iglesia Metodista Unida!

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