UMC bishops dispute church court ruling on gay membership

Bishops say homosexuality "not a barrier"
The bishops of the United Methodist Church have unanimously proclaimed that homosexuality is “not a barrier” to church membership, despite a recent church court ruling that allowed a Virginia pastor to keep an openly gay man from joining his congregation.

The Council of Bishops, meeting in North Carolina early this month, criticized the ruling by the church’s Judicial Council, which raised concerns that pastors might also be able to discriminate based on race, marital status or theological beliefs.

Such concerns had been raised, for instance, by Kathryn Johnson, executive director of the Methodist Federation for Social Action. That group’s statement said the court ruling was “chilling in its implications.” Asked Johnson: “Where will each pastor draw the line? Can a person be refused membership based on a person’s race or their immigration status? What of the person who is divorced and remarried?”


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