FFRF condemns anti-gay vote by United Methodists

The lopsided vote last week by the United Methodists to disallow gay clergy and same-sex weddings is a reminder that religion is often the problem, not the solution.

While acceptance of LGBTQ individuals and rights has come swiftly in the United States, as usual most church denominations were late to the cause. Now it appears the United Methodists aren’t coming on board late — instead they aren’t coming on board at all. In not doing so, they are in the company of the Mormons, the Roman Catholic bishops and fellow Protestant fundamentalists such as the Southern Baptists.

This callous and unkind vote is a big deal. United Methodists are the second-largest Protestant denomination in the nation. They have an international presence, and so the vote in favor of bigotry and exclusion will have an impact on developing nations, which lag behind in accepting LGBTQ people and rights. More than 70 nations criminalize same-sex relationships, and eight countries punish homosexual acts with the death penalty. The United Methodists had the world’s eye on them as they voted, and blew the chance to be a model of inclusion.

Instead, the United Methodists have signaled that they place fealty to judgmental religious doctrine above people and human rights — including loyal members of their own congregations, even their own pastors who are gay. This is the greatest “sin” of religion: putting dogma above people. Let us hope the vote opens the eyes of Methodists who are better people than their religion. A mass exodus is in order.

It’s time to leave the United Methodist Church.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

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