Process of Bishop's Capitulation to the Religious Right
The June 2011 church trial of Rev. Amy DeLong was understood to be a stimulus to religious right groups such as the Confessing Movement within The United Methodist Church. In October 2011, 59 large-church pastors wrote a letter to the bishops that the bishops toe the line of the Book of Discipline regarding legislation discriminating against gay and lesbian Christians who were called and gifted for ordained ministry and against blessing of same-gender relationships. [Read their clergy letter here and a parallel lay letter here.]
Rev. Scott Campbell, Rev. DeLong's counsel at the trial, responded to the above letters in an open letter to the bishops. Rev. Campbell's identification of the fear behind the religious right's response to gay and lesbian Christians is quite pertinent to responding to their letters. [Read Rev. Campbell's response here.]
In November 2011the bishop's responded with a unanimous letter supporting the restrictive legislation looked for from the religious right, giving no comfort or support to the LGBT community. They give lip service to the inclusive vision within the Book of Discipline, but ultimately give allegiance to temporal political realities and promise to enforce discriminary legislation. [Read the bishop's letter here.]
It is never too late to hope for better from our bishops. Don't hesitate to ask your bishop about their reason for participating in this continuance and support of anti-discrimination legislation. Further, don't hesitate to let them know where you stand and why you stand there - not out of fear, but in trust of God's expansive and expanding love.