There’s a church controversy brewing in Alexandria, Indiana. The leadership of the United Methodist Church there can’t seem to figure out how much they hate gay people. It’s one thing to ban them from church leadership — but what about non-pastoral members of the staff?
It looks like the church leadership wants to block gay people — even those who are celibate — from joining any part of the staff. The church members disagree and they’re leaving in protest:
David Steele said his family has stopped attending the church, which has been difficult. They aren’t alone either. About 80 percent of the congregation left because of the situation with [fired gay choral director Adam] Fraley.
“They all embraced him,” Nancy Steele said. “They’re upset about the way he was treated.”
Of course, the church members have the moral and logical upper hand here. It makes no sense to ban gay people because of a narrow interpretation of certain parts of the Bible when the church has no history of barring gluttonous people, divorced people, shellfish eaters, or those who mix their linens and wools.
The church leaders claim they’re just following the rules of the church, which state:
The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.
There may be a semantic issue over what positions fall under the “service ban” there, but I don’t know why it matters. The same rulebook also says “all persons are of sacred worth” but it’s not like church leaders have been treating Fraley with any sort of respect.
By the way, I’m not letting David and Nancy Steele — and the other members who left the church — off the hook either. They may have left the church in solidarity with Fraley, but none of them seem to have any problem with the Methodist Church’s overall ban on gay ministers.
It’s a sad day when the “good guys” in the story are still content with bigotry as long as it remains in the upper echelons of church leadership. The fact is: if you’re still giving money to the UMC and you call yourself a “Methodist,” you’re perpetuating this shoddy treatment of LGBT individuals. Until you sever all ties with the church, you’re still part of the problem and not the solution.
(Thanks to Richard for the link!)