Intelligent design group accuses UMC leaders of censorship

gc2016logo_550The Discovery Institute, a group created to promote the theory of intelligent design in society, released a press release earlier this week accusing UMC officials of being “closed minded and intolerant” in their decision to disallow the group to sponsor a table at the 2016 General Conference to be held in May in Portland, OR.

“Preventing United Methodist leaders from even hearing about intelligent design isn’t open-minded, it’s intolerant and exclusionary,” said Dr. John West, Vice President of Discovery Institute. “Mabye United Methodist officials should change their slogan to ‘Closed Hearts, Closed Minds, Closed Doors’?”

“We were just complying with the policies established by the Commission on General Conference on the rental of booth and table space,” said Sarah Hotchkiss, business manager of the General Conference. “The rules clearly stated that the Commission reserves the right to refuse space to groups whose message is inconsistent with the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church.”

“The concern,” said Fitzgerald Reist, secretary of the General Conference, “is that the Discovery Institute’s stated mission is at odds with Resolution 5052 in The 2012 United Methodist Book of Resolutions.”  This resolution states that “…the General Conference of The United Methodist Church go on record as opposing the introduction of any faith-based theories such as Creationism or Intelligent Design into the science curriculum of our public schools.”

“We are bound to follow the social teachings of our church,” said Reist.

“As a private organization, the UMC has the right to exclude us as an exhibitor,” said West. “But UMC officials’ embrace of censorship undermines their own professed commitment to open doors and open minds.”

The Discovery Institute has created a website to urge supporters to reach out to a variety of United Methodist leaders and urge them to overturn the decision of the Commission on General Conference, however The United Methodist Book of Discipline is clear that the Commission has the sole authority to set policy for the operation of General Conference.

Jay Voorhees, Former Executive Editor

The Rev. Jay Voorhees is the Executive Editor of The United Methodist Reporter and the Chief Creative Officer for CircuitWriter Media LLC which operates this site and Jay is an ordained elder in the Tennessee Annual Conference. Jay has written on life and the practice of faith in The United Methodist Church at Only Wonder Understands since 2003.

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11 Comments on "Intelligent design group accuses UMC leaders of censorship"

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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[…] Discoveroid post has no byline, and we haven’t checked out their link to the “short report” from the Methodists. It’s always hazardous to assume that […]

J May
“The rules clearly stated that the Commission reserves the right to refuse space to groups whose message is inconsistent with the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church.” Intelligent Design science is inconsistent with the Social Principles to the church? What? How about the theology of the Church? Do social principles take precedence over theology? Better be careful! We don’t want to stand behind any interpretation of the data that would dare to see evidence for a Designer in creation. That is against our social principles. Go figure! This explanation is very lacking because the DI does not support the… Read more »
Kevin Brown

Its been a few years since I read the bible from cover to cover but perhaps you could point out the part where it says the god did so by intelligent design theory. Because be clear here the bible talks of creationism not this political lie that DI has put up in an attempt to get around the constitution of the US.

I think the UMC is has drawn a fairly clear line about respect honesty and tolerance or rather the lack of. That has been displayed by DI. On this and other issues.


Exactly. Intelligent Design is not a theory and it is not science. It is dishonest pseudoscience – creationism trying to do an end-around the Constitution. The DI is filled with liars, frauds and charlatans.

Hayne Hamilton

Perhaps the GC committee should not allow Cokebury to host display space. Cokesbury’s book list for sales contains a significant number of titles discussing intelligent design. Hayne Hamilton

Wes Andrews

I guess GC doesn’t want to hear things that contadict the ever increasing narrow-minded thinking of the open minded progressives.


United Methodist General Conference Secretary Responds on Intelligent Design Ban

Rev. Jay Voorhees, Executive Editor of the United Methodist Reporter, has published a short report.

Mary Page
Thanks for the explanation. I think they forget when these things post on Facebook and other social media sites that the general public does not understand. Intelligent Design is a phrase used in public schools, among scientists and engineers but it has a variety of definitions. The original story did not explain the thinking behind the decision. I still think they ought to offer a venue that group could discuss or debate the issue. General Conferences deal with policy, issues and regional items. The public does not know this. The article could have been used as a tool of conversation… Read more »
Richard Hicks

The ones with the power make the rules. Do What Jesus Did – ignore those who think they have the power. Thank you, Richard F Hicks, OKC

Paul W.
The political machinations of the Commission on General Conference is pretty disturbing. First they put out those laughably obnoxious “guidelines” for controlling discussion around the homosexuality issue, which includes the requirement to always inquire what “gender pronouns” a person wishes to use, and the expectation that all members of General Conference are to jump in and immediately silence those that use any language that might be offensive to the sensibilities of the LGBTQI community. Then this. Gee, I’m sure the Commission will have absolutely no problem renting booth space to groups promoting the full acceptance of homosexual behavior within the… Read more »
Kevin Brown
With respect Paul you apply a lot of scepticism to the conference organizers and none at all to the discovery institute. And you should be saying that they NO LONGER propose teaching ID in public schools. The had a steady stream of correspondence with school boards before Dover. And they still testify at school board textbook selections. While at the same time advocating and producing political bills that leave the door wide open to creationism. All as stated as part of the wedge document plan. DI has been around for over a decade there is alit of evidence in there… Read more »
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