It’s not just the LDS Church that has had a difficult time dealing with gay rights. The Christian right is struggling with the issue as well. Dr. Greg Prince serves on the Board of Directors for a Methodist seminary near Washington, D.C.
Greg: The Methodists have a heap of trouble on this. In February of this year, they had what is termed a Called General Conference. They normally have general conferences once every four years. But they can have a special conference, and they did it for one issue, and that was LGBTQ. There were really three elements that they were considering during this conference. One is how do we deal with religious talk about gays? Do we brand them as apostates? Do we brand them as sinners? The second was, will we allow the ordination of gay clergy, and the third was, will we allow the performing of gay marriages?
The Conservatives prevailed, and that was primarily because of Africa. Forty-five percent of the delegates to the conference were from Africa, and that vote which was strongly homophobic, combined with the delegates from the American South prevailed, and it put the Methodist Church in a more homophobic stance than they had been prior to the conference. The other alternative that was put forward and voted down, was called the One Church proposal, and that was written primarily by the head of our Board of Governors. So, he was front and center in the debate, and he and other delegates from Wesley were just devastated with the outcome. It puts them in a much more difficult position, organizationally, than the LDS Church right now, because there’s a very real possibility of permanent schism, that the United Methodist Church might not wind up being very united anymore. They’re trying to work out some kind of a compromise that can avoid that, and when I went to the board meeting earlier this week, Tom looked at me and he said, “I never thought I’d see the day when the Methodists would make the Mormons look progressive.”
In our next conversation, we’ll talk about how the Christian Right deals with gay rights, and specifically discuss what happened in the Prop 8 battle in California.
GT: Okay, so, by November, the church with a coalition of the Catholic Church and some other organizations–now, one of the things that I found interesting last night was you said that that the Mormon Church combined with the Catholic Church and some evangelical organizations for some sort of a front organization, and then you said that they all said, “Well, we’re behind you,” but they weren’t.
Greg: This went back to 2000, and it was reminiscent of Lucy and the football.
Greg: I won’t lift up the football this time. And every time Charlie Brown fell for it, and every time she lifted up the football and he wound up on his back. So in 2000, the other churches said, “We’re in this together,” but the LDS Church wound up carrying all the water. In 2008, they said, “No, this time, we’re really in this together,” and the LDS Church wound up carrying most of the water. Because the money was given to a front organization, it’s very difficult to figure out how large a role church members played in financing Prop 8. The best estimates are at least 50% of the $40 million, that the Yes on 8 Movement collected came from Latter-day Saints. It could have been substantially more than 50%, but we know that much just from reverse engineering because the donors’ contributions were registered with the California Secretary of State, and a group of innovative church members looked at that list and started disseminating it to their network throughout the state, and identifying church members and then tabulating the amount of money collectively that hadn’t been given by them.
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Don’t miss our previous conversation with Greg!