Democratic decision-making is second nature for most American Protestants. Is there a dispute in the church? Let's debate the issue, and then put it to a vote. One problem with this approach, as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and other denominations have discovered, is that it can lead to almost yearly votes on a controverted issue such as homosexuality. Whatever the outcome, the process usually leaves people on all sides of the question bruised and bitter and less than eager to come back for next year's meeting. Is this process really healthy for the church? Is there a way to deal with controversial issues other than the ballot box? Denominational officials have begun to wonder.
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