A ruling from the United Methodist Judicial Council last week all but makes it certain pro-LGBT forces have been defeated and biblical orthodoxy wins.
Three months after United Methodist delegates cast a pivotal vote for their Traditional Plan, the denomination’s own court ruled April 26 that dissenters can take part in an exit plan if they disagree with biblical doctrines about human sexuality.
Methodist layman Mark Tooley of the Institute on Religion and Democracy says the liberal coalition was hoping to force a ruling after failing to win a victory at the General Conference in February.
“It was one last attempt to kill it and that attempt failed,” Tooley says of the judicial review. “Actually, it backfired in that the Judicial Council went even further than reaffirming its past rulings.”
In addition to affirming the Traditional Plan, Tooley tells OneNewsNow the Council said those who can't live with it are free to leave ---immediately.
“Churches that dissent from the denominational teaching on sexuality,” he says, “can now vote to leave the denomination with their property.”
OneNewsNow has reported that pro-LGBT forces were demanding the denomination affirm the right for ordained homosexual and lesbian clergy to come out of the closet without punishment and for LGBT-friendly clergy to officiate at homosexual “weddings” without punishment.
While enjoying the support of UMC hierarchy, a sympathetic media, and homosexual rights groups, the liberal UMC faction threatened conservative holdouts to either compromise in the name of “tolerance” or lose their church properties.
In the end, however, the Traditional Plan defeated the One Church Plan in a narrow 438-384 vote, the climax of a decades-long internal fight.
According to Christianity Today, the nine-member Judicial Council was tasked with reviewing the February votes and comparing the legislation's language to the denomination's constitution. While some of the language was rejected, mandatory penalties for disobeying pastors was upheld and a "Graceful Exit" legislation for dissenting churches was upheld.
Tooley told OneNewsNow last week that UMC conservatives outnumber what he calls “radicals” in the denomination and predicted that biblical orthodoxy will survive in the divided denomination.
“Some still think they can come back in the General Conference in 2020 but that's very unlikely,” he says. “I think the wiser ones among them are determining how they can create new structures that allow them to leave the denomination.