UMC liberals ignore church rules but impose them on Sessions

Friday, June 22, 2018
Bill Bumpas (

AG Sessions press conference"Hypocritical" and a "publicity stunt." That's what the leader of a conservative Christian think tank has to say about a grievance filed by clergy and lay members of the United Methodist Church against Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his "zero tolerance" policy on immigration.

More than 600 of his fellow Methodists issued a formal complaint charging Sessions, the nation's top law enforcer, with violating the denomination's Book of Discipline for the way he prosecutes families for illegally crossing the border. The complaint – addressed to the pastors of two churches that Sessions attends (one in Alabama, the other in Virginia) – charges the AG with violating church rules or principles on child abuse, immorality, racial discrimination, and "dissemination of doctrines contrary" to those of the UMC.

Mark Tooley, president of The Institute on Religion & Democracy, finds it "hypocritical" that many of those same people making the complaint have no problem with the UMC allowing "gay and lesbian pastors" – even though that same Book of Discipline states "the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching."

"[It's a] publicity stunt that will not go anywhere in terms of church law," Tooley says of the complaint – but contends it does reveal a divide in the UMC and American Christianity.

Tooley, Mark (IRD)"Those who are traditionalists tend to focus on the need for fidelity to theological doctrine and to personal moral standards," he tells OneNewsNow, "and those on the left side of Christianity prefer to emphasize fidelity to politics and a social gospel agenda for the Church."

Tooley, a lifelong Methodist himself, says "there's almost no precedent whatsoever in Methodism for filing a complaint against a lay person, and certainly not for merely disagreeing with a denomination's official political stance."

Nope, can't have 'Him' in there

Not to be outdone in the area of publicity by the signatories to the Sessions' complaint, the Minnesota Annual Conference of the UMC is receiving criticism for editing the historic "Apostle's Creed" at a recent worship service reportedly so it would be less gender-specific.

The copies of the Creed that were used for the service had the lines "God the Father Almighty" edited to "God the Creator Almighty" – and "Jesus Christ His Only Son" changed to "Jesus Christ God's Only Son."

church congregation (rear view)Tooley says it's "silly and wrong" to edit the Creed and hopes it was a one-time event that won't be repeated. "It's a little bit highly unusual, even in liberal quarters of Christianity, to explicitly edit the Apostle's Creed," he notes. "More typically, liberals have simply crossed their fingers quietly when they have said the Creed."

Calling the revisions "absurd," Tooley points out that it's becoming more popular for liberals to avoid using a personal pronoun for God. "Obviously the church historically has taught that He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the personal pronoun is He and Him."

And there are consequences, he argues, for removing the personal pronouns and avoiding referencing God as Father. "It ultimately depersonalizes God and makes God more distant from ourselves, which is the whole point of Christianity: to bring ourselves closer to God," he states.

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