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Responding to the United Methodist Church: Sexual and Gender Oppression Cannot Be Defended

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I am pleased to announce that the Religious Institute, a multi-faith organization dedicated to sexual health, education and justice, has issued a statement regarding The United Methodist Church's decision General Conference not to remove the doctrinal language that states, "the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching."

Twenty-four major mainstream religious leaders have endorsed the statement, which reads:

As religious leaders, we are speaking out against the decision of The United Methodist Church's General Conference not to remove the doctrinal language that states, "the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching." Using the Bible to exclude or attack people violates the very spirit of our traditions and is morally unconscionable. We affirm sexual and gender diversity as gifts people offer to their congregations and communities. We stand in solidarity with those United Methodists working to transform their denomination into one that celebrates sexual and gender diversity as a blessing that enriches all.

Too many religious institutions have failed to embrace sexual and gender diversity. Some have mistakenly called homosexuality sinful, when the real issue is heterosexism or the unjust privileging of heterosexuality. Silence, misinformation, and condemnation of differing sexual and gender identities have created despair, destroyed relationships, and led to violence, suicide, and even murder. Sexual and gender oppression can no longer be portrayed as virtuous and morally defensible.

Loving, just communities embrace everyone; they are strengthened when all people are able to live fully and express their gender and sexuality with holiness and integrity. There can be no turning back from the goal of the full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in our faith traditions and communities. Surely, that day is coming soon.

Rev. Dr. Michael J. Adee
Executive Director
More Light Presbyterians

Dr. Ellen Armour
Director of the Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender, and Sexuality
Vanderbilt University Divinity School

Karen Barr
Moderator of Council
GLAD Alliance

Meredith Bischoff
President, Board of Directors
Welcoming Community Network

Francis DeBernardo
Executive Director
New Ways Ministry

Marianne Duddy-Burke
Executive Director
DignityUSA

Yolanda Elliott
President
SDA Kinship International

Rev. Yvette Flunder
Presiding Bishop
The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries

Dr. Sharon Groves
Director, Religion and Faith Program
Human Rights Campaign

Rev. Debra W. Haffner
President
Religious Institute

Dr. Alice W. Hunt
President
Chicago Theological Seminary

Dr. Mary E. Hunt
Co-Director
Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER)

Rev. Dr. Jay Johnson
Senior Director
Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry
Pacific School of Religion

Dr. Joel L. Kushner
Director
Institute for Judaism, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion

Andrew G. Lang
Executive Director
United Church of Christ Coalition for LGBT Concerns

David Lohman
IWR & Faith Work Coordinator
National Gay & Lesbian Task Force's Institute for Welcoming Resources

Jon O'Brien
President
Catholics for Choice

Marilyn Paarlberg
Executive Director
Room for All (Reformed Church in America)

The Very Reverend Dr. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale
President
Episcopal Divinity School

Rev. Michael Schuenemeyer
Executive for Health and Wholeness Advocacy, Wider Church Ministries
United Church of Christ Office for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Ministries

Howard Solomon
President
World Congress of GLBT Jews

Rabbi Arthur Waskow
Director
The Shalom Center

Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson
Moderator
Metropolitan Community Churches

Rev. Dr. D. Newell Williams
President
Brite Divinity School

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