Jan 182015
Bishop B. Michael Watson, North Georgia Conference

Bishop B. Michael Watson, North Georgia Conference

It will come no surprise that members of the Georgia legislature have introduced model legislation like that introduced in other legislature where marriage equality has either passed or been instituted by judicial action. This one of those “Religious Freedoms” bills designed to allow “christians” to discriminate against anyone they don’t like…because, you know…who would Jesus hate.

In this instance, a group of religious leaders in Georgia have banded together and issued a letter denouncing the bill, and explaining that no one, besides certain Republican members of the legislature has actually asked for the bill. I was heartened to see that a number of United Methodist pastors from Georgia had signed the letter. But as usual, the Methodist Episcopacy was missing in action.

Georgia is divided into two Episcopal areas, but neither Bishop had the courage to sign onto the letter. This is no great surprise those. It’s been years since the leaders of the Methodist Church actually did any leading. They finally, after more than 50 years had passed, got around to passing a resolution condemning the Japanese government’s use of comfort women during WWII…yeah for “social justice from the Methodist Bishops.”

Bishop James King, South Georgia Conference

Bishop James King, South Georgia Conference

This afternoon, I sent the following letter to Bishops Benjamin Michael Watson and Bishop James R. King.

As the anti-gay industry begins to see themselves overtaken by justice, a lashing out by them is to be expected, and one of their approaches has become the introduction in various state legislatures of “religious liberty” bills, which purport to protect people’s religious liberty. These bills are explicitly targeted at LGBT citizens, supposedly to protect bakers and florists and photographers. Rest assured, however, the bills are written so broadly that business could refuse service to people based on race, or religion as well. Surely, you, as a Methodist, could not abide a return to the days of Jim Crowe.

 While disappointed to learn that members of the Georgia legislature have introduced such a bill, but heartened to see, in the Methodist tradition of social justice, that a number of UMC Pastors signed on to a statement denouncing the bill.

However, in keeping with what I’ve come to expect from the Methodist Episcopacy, I didn’t see the name of either Georgia Bishops on the letter. Frankly, as a life-long Methodist, I’ve come to be ashamed of the lack of leadership that is nowadays shown by the leaders of our denomination on matters of social justice.

It’s disappointing to not find your signature, but I guess you all were too busy voting for condemning the Japanese use of comfort women during WWII. (Congratulations on getting around to that…it only took you all about 50 years to denounce that.) Or, perhaps you were too busy trying some long-standing Pastor for officiating at the wedding of his gay son.

One of the things I keep hearing from our Bishops is that LGBT Methodist should wait, should take it slower…at 55 Bishop Watson and Bishop King, I’m tired of waiting, tired of sitting in the back of the Methodist Church Bus, and frankly, tired of the cowardice consistently shown by the Episcopacy on social justice matters.

So, I’m just curious, Bishop Watson and Bishop King, how long will it take after bills like this are passed into law, countless lives are damaged, and millions of public and private dollars are spent to defeat them in the courts, before you all condemn them? Will it be another 50 years?

While there are a few courageous Bishops in the United Methodist Church, the majority are scared to death that the African Church might breakaway if they decide to become welcoming. I’m disturbed that, apparently, Methodist pastors and leadership in Africa are teaching so much hate to the members on that continent.

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