With Presbyterians in the Yes Column, Mainline Protestants Solidify Gay Marriage Support

With Presbyterians in the yes column, mainline Protestants solidify gay marriage support

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(RNS) With the largest Presbyterian denomination’s official endorsement Tuesday (March 17), American mainline Protestants have solidified their support for gay marriage, leaving the largest mainline denomination — the United Methodist Church — outside the same-sex marriage fold.

Methodists, with more than 7 million members, rejected same-sex marriage at their last national conference, in 2012. They are likely to revisit the question at their next conference, in 2016, but a growing membership in Africa, where there is little acceptance of homosexuality, makes it unlikely the denomination will accept gay marriage.

Another denomination generally considered mainline, the American Baptist Churches USA, does not allow same-sex marriage, nor do a handful of smaller mainline denominations. But the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ and now the Presbyterian Church (USA)  sanctify the marriage of two men or two women. The 3.8 million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America gives congregations the autonomy to decide for themselves.

“There is no group that has moved more quickly or more dramatically on this issue than white mainline Protestants,” said Dan Cox, research director of the Public Religion Research Institute, a nonprofit that studies trends in American religion.

In 2003, 36 percent of white mainline Protestants supported gay marriage, compared with 62 percent in 2014, Cox said.

Cox notes that among white mainline Protestants, Presbyterians and Methodists in the pews hold strikingly similar views on gay marriage. In that same 2014 PRRI survey, 69 percent of Presbyterians approved of same-sex marriage, while 67 percent of U.S. Methodists did.And though there is not one Protestant on the Supreme Court, the fact that an increasing number of the nation’s churches are inviting gay couples to the altar is likely to weigh on the justices as they consider upcoming cases that would allow them to make gay marriage a right.

“Support for gay marriage in these denominational families is quite strong,” Cox said. “It’s hard to say the churches are actually leading on this issue. They are reflecting where their followers already are.”

The Rev. Jeremy Smith, minister of discipleship at First United Methodist Church in Portland, Ore., said the Presbyterian vote reminds Methodists to ask themselves why their own doctrine is the way it is.

“Why is this still on the books?” he said. “In the Methodist Church we have been behind the culture.”

The majority of church-affiliated Americans belong to denominations that forbid gay marriage, including Roman Catholics, most Baptists, Pentecostals, evangelicals and Mormons.

Mainline Protestants, once the majority in America, have lost ground in recent decades to other denominations and to independent churches.

This week’s Presbyterian Church vote was long expected after 61 percent of General Assembly delegates voted in June to allow gay and lesbian weddings. That made the 1.8 million-member PCUSA among the largest Christian denominations to take an embracing step toward same-sex marriage.

But the change did not become church law until a majority of the 171 regional presbyteries, or geographic regions, voted to ratify the new language. The threshold was reached Tuesday when the Palisades Presbytery in New Jersey became the 86th to approve a change in the denomination’s constitution making marriage a commitment “between two people, traditionally a man and a woman.”

 

Religion News Service

RNS is owned by Religion News LLC, a non-profit, limited liability corporation based at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Its mission is to provide in-depth, non-sectarian coverage of religion, spirituality and ideas.

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51 Comments on "With Presbyterians in the Yes Column, Mainline Protestants Solidify Gay Marriage Support"

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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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gene tyson
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This thread is evidence of the huge divide that is evident in our beloved UMC and it does not appear to be getting in closer but on the contrary, it seems to get wider as GC approaches. I pray for some resolve but I must admit I don’t see a lot light at the end of this tunnel.

Jamie Hamrick
Guest

You as well Russ! Going to be a busy week. Keep the main thing the main thing!

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Boycott Indiana. You’d think they would know better (Arizona did) but I am certain their business community will eventually overturn their despicable action.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

It’s getting tough out there for Governor Mike Pence for having signed this evil legislation and now claiming it does not do what it does. The poor fellow has actually reaped the whirlwind by seeking to enshrine discrimination as a de jure value. I see conventions, corporations, and the Disciples of Christ denomination have pulled out of Hoosierland, and if the UMC has any m,eetings scheduled there they need to relocate them to a land where citizens are treated fairly.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

It’s very telling how both Russ and a rather hairy hero of the American Taliban both are enamored of metaphors of violence in which the victims are the persons for whom they possess intense animosity:

http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/phil-robertson-hypothesizes-about-atheist-family-getting-raped-and-killed

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

OK. Good to know. We don’t get to use that term as much as we’d like, where opponents of justice are concerned.

Jamie Hamrick
Guest

I agree –The UMC should follow suit quickly. It would speed up our death process by moving left faster than we are now.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Russ, it so happens I have colleagues who are graduates of Liberty, and we’ve never had any problems. They do not agitate me. Your bullying of me by this and other posts is apparently an issue for you. It appears you are the one who is agitated in no small part due to your inability to stop views different from your own from being stated. Having Obama as President is indeed a great symbol of the greatness of this country, but the way he is treated is shameful. I’m quite happy with reality, unlike you.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Ah, so you can predict the future! Do they feature a course on that at Liberty University?

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

That’s kind but if I live to be 120 I don’t expect to be in shape to attend the UMGC that year unless cyborg engineering has vastly improved and semirobotic Methodists are still accorded full membership. I expect change to occur long before then, but I’ve always been an optimist when it comes to the advancement of human rights.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Especially when you used “their” where “there” should’ve been. That removes beyond any doubt the validity of your assertions of your own superiority.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

In other words, you got bested in an argument but are so flabberghasted that you have in your insecurity felt the need to threaten me with physical violence and feel a need to invoke your participation in an immoral war as a dog whistle to your fellow bullies here. Your inquiry has been asked and answered. It is your faction which is “circling the drain” just like the old segregationists in 1965, my firend.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Why do you see a need to speak in riddles?

Kevin
Guest

Russ
That would involve actually reading his posts and counting off his hateful terms. Who wants to do that?

Larry Buxton
Guest
I heard the comment recently that within 5 posts almost every online conversation about ANYTHING degenerates into name-calling and personal attacks. Sad but seems to be true, even in a Christian forum. My one comment to all the above is that the assertion way back up there — about progressives & liberals not ever leaving the UMC — skips over the fact that last spring it was the traditionalist branch of the church that first proposed schism. (The comments didn’t imply leaving the traditional, Biblical church, but clearly the denomination.) So let’s try to stay factual and avoid vitriol.
Kevin
Guest

Since the progressives will not leave and our leadership will not enforce the discipline the traditionalists have only two choices, remain in connection with those they feel are in direct disobedience to scriptural guidance or leave. It still comes back on the progressives for forcing the choice.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

My friend, you post shows you are too involved in your own mess to speak honestly. If you are referring to me – and it appears you are dog whistling to your brethren of the far right that you are – be honest and say so. And be prepared to cite chapter and verse. You resort to this sort of innuendo out of your bullying nature and for that you should be sorely ashamed.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Maybe a more appropriate question is why do so many who embrace that ideology carp about the UMC here.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

The Methodist Church followed culture since its inception, and now has a chance to act to change culture by embracing human rights, something few churches have done. The culture is being fundamentally transformed whether we like it or not. It is Christ transforming culture to use Bonhoffer’s phrase that led the UPC to this bold embrace of justice.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest
OK – our involvement in antislavery; our split over the American Civil War; our silence in the face of the amalgamation of oligarchy in the gilded age as well as in the institution of segregation and its byproducts like chain gangs leased out which constituted a de facto continuation of slavery; our involvement (contrary to the popular conception, it was not only the Baptists and their imitators) in the failed experiment of national prohibition of alcohol; our involvement in civil rights and the movement against militarism in the Vietnam era. However we preceded other Mainline bodies in ordaining female clergy… Read more »
Wes Andrews
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There are no historical events in which Wesleyan Methodism has followed culture. It is only progressive “methodism”, but that’s the only kind recognized by our resident progressive. Everyone else is a right-wing evil person. Isn’t interesting that it is progressives that have been behind the killing of millions of unborn females (as well as males) since abortions has been endorsed in the U.S.A. I’d say that evil is up with just about any other kind of evil to which some might point.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Wes, -25 for multiple non sequiturs

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Russ, I don’t need to impress you, but it’s quite obvious that I do whether I try or not.

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