Oh yeah. Besides reading the Times this morning, I also took a look at Yahoo during the lunch break at the training session today - and was startled (but in a good way) to read that "The United Methodist Church appeals panel voted 8 to 1 to set aside the December decision by another church court to oust Irene "Beth" Stroud for violating the denomination's ban on "self-avowed, practicing homosexual" clergyvoted 8 to 1". Actually that wasn't exactly what I read, this article by Foster Klug in PhillyBurbs.com was actually the most recent one I found in a quick Yahoo news search tonight & goes into quite a bit more detail than the older ones did.
It is going to be fascinating to see how this develops.
I was visiting my folks around the time this case was drawing a lot of media attention. My dad & I discussed it - my folks are very active members of the same United Methodist church we attended when I was a kid, up until we left Hawaii in my junior year in high school, so he had a fairly clear view of what was going on.
My dad's take on it was quite simple. There's a law in the Methodist Book of Discipline that bans openly gay ministers. If the rule's in the book, the church can't just ignore it - it either has to be obeyed or it has to be changed.
OK, I have just spent the last 45 minutes trying to reconstruct the outcome of the discussion & also explain why I even care when I'm straight & not particularly a churchgoer these days & hence this isn't any skin off my own personal nose...but I am too brain-fried to do it. That line of asterisks represents a lot of deletions. Here's an attempt at a summary of some of my thoughts on the matter though...
I just don't believe a person's sexuality - as far as which gender they're attracted to - is something in which that person has a choice. And I was brought up to believing that it's unfair to discriminate against people because of characteristics over which they have no choice. Now - how a person chooses to, er, "deploy" that innate sexuality - monogamously in a committed long-term relationship, or otherwise - that's a choice. I bet that as a rule, gay people who want to be ministers are also going to be people who choose the monogamous long-term relationship, same as the straight people who want to be ministers. Main difference being that the straight people can marry the person with whom they want to have a monogamous long-term relationship while for the gay people, it's just a little teensy bit more complicated (load a little sarcasm on that last phrase)...wouldn't you agree? As for why I care - that's easy - aside from basically being opposed to discrimination just on principle - which is actually enough in and of itself - I've got a lot of friends who are gay & it really ticks me off when people beat up on people I like.
Well - back to the ruling - the crux of today's decision was actually this, according to the article I linked to:
"The panel said the ban was 'null and void' because the church procedures were not followed when it was adopted."
Well - if that's the case, then the new outcome is completely in line with my dad's argument, isn't it?
It is going to be interesting to see how this one comes out - but it actually made me happy to read about a church governing body deciding in favor of tolerance...specially after reading this earlier this week.