Is there anything laypeople can do to get themselves kicked out of the United Methodist Church?” My question stumped the speaker, expert on Methodist church law though he was. He had just delivered a detailed list of offenses that could get Methodist ministers cast into outer darkness. Wanting to democratize the misery a bit, I wondered if the church disciplined anyone other than ministers.
He thought hard, then replied, “I think there’s something in the Book of Discipline about not being able to belong to a hate group.”
That’s it! As long as you don’t join the Ku Klux Klan, you can be a Methodist. It is hard to imagine setting the bar any lower.
From this perspective, Roman Catholic efforts to discipline John Kerry because of his support of abortion rights look singularly odd. Kerry is not a minister in his church, nor is he a theologian. Yet some Catholics want him barred from communion.