Methodist jury finds Beth Stroud guilty of violating church law on sexuality

Methodist jury finds Beth Stroud guilty of violating church law on sexuality
It shouldn't be a big shocker that a church jury defrocked United Methodist minister Beth Stroud. She told her congregation that she's a practicing lesbian (her partner was the publisher of The Other Side until it folded in October), and the Methodist Book of Order clearly bans "self-avowed, practicing homosexuals … as ministers." The church's rule on this was strengthened at the denomination's May meeting.

But it is a big deal because Methodist ministers are violating the church's teachings on sexual ethics, but other juries and denominational leaders have thwarted any disciplinary measures. Just two months ago, a complaint was dismissed against Karen Oliveto, who had performed the marriage of a gay couple in San Francisco.

In fact, the last time the denomination actually defrocked one of its ministers over homosexual behavior was in the 1987 Rose Mary Denman case. In 1999, Jimmy Creech was defrocked for performing same-sex union ceremonies.

Stroud plans to keep ministering without her credentials. Under Methodist polity, she can continue preaching as a lay member, but can't administer Communion elements or conduct baptisms. She says she hasn't decided whether to appeal the ruling, the announcement of which was followed by her supporters gathering in the courtroom, singing, "We are gay and straight together, singing, singing for our lives."

For our lives?

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More on homosexuality & churches:

  • Return of Lutheran group's status sought | Central City mission was removed as a congregation over its call to a lesbian minister (The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Ca.)
  • Christianity doesn't invalidate same-sex relationships - SACC | Caution urged over appeal court ruling (Cape Times, Cape Town, South Africa)

United Church of Christ ad:

  • Exclusion and embrace | Maybe the networks should air that United Church of Christ ad—and allow a rebuttal. (Joseph Loconte, The Wall Street Journal)
  • Since when does conflict turn off the networks? | We liberals don't do evangelism (Madison Shockley, Los Angeles Times)
  • Hard to fathom exclusion of ad promoting inclusion | It's a shame that NBC and CBS won't let us be heard. (Joyce Hollyday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • Rejection of ad stirs emotions at church | Local congregants struggle to grasp networks' decision (Fort Collins Coloradoan)
  • Marketing God | While religious promotions are no stranger to the airwaves, this is not the typical Mormon promotion, asking people to love their neighbor and call for a free Bible (Andover Townsman, Mass.)
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  • United Church of Christ protests political climate as TV ad rejected | CBS, NBC and ABC have all refused to air one of the campaign's two ads (The Berkshire Eagle, Mass.)
  • Church TV spot denial raises ire | Critics blast CBS, NBC for decision (San Bernardino Sun)
  • A chill wind | The idea of tolerance suddenly can't be tolerated (Editorial, The Baltimore Sun)


  • Ave Maria reins in plans | Rising costs could force oratory, campus cuts (The News-Press, Fort Meyers, Fla.)
  • Religion Today: Baptists readying school exodus? | Frustration with public education seems to be growing among the nation's Southern Baptists, with supporters of Christian schools and home schooling arguing that if God is absent from the classroom then their children should leave, too (Associated Press)
  • Washington funds false sex lessons | The Bush administration is funding sexual health projects that teach children that HIV can be contracted through sweat and tears, touching genitals can result in pregnancy, and that a 43-day-old foetus is a thinking person (The Guardian, London)
  • Facts of life turn out to be fiction for millions of US pupils | Millions of American schoolchildren are offered religiously-inspired "sex education" courses that are riddled with falsehoods, a congressional staff report has found (The Telegraph, London)

Baylor vote on Sloan:

  • Voting ends in Baylor faculty referendum: Turnout less than 60 percent | Votes won't be counted until next week (KWTX, Waco, Tex.)
  • More than half of Baylor faculty weigh in on president's tenure | About 58 percent of eligible Baylor University faculty members voted this week in a referendum on the leadership of President Robert B. Sloan Jr., officials said Thursday (Waco Tribune-Herald, Tex.)

December dilemma:

  • Clash over symbols | Tree, menorah at courthouse spur debate over holiday displays (Sacramento Bee, Ca.)
  • 'Christmas' to stay | City Hall inundated with opposition to 'Happy Holidays' sign (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)
  • Outcry keeps "Christmas" lit up | A December dilemma over religion's proper place in the public square during the holidays has hit Denver with the force of a winter storm (The Denver Post)
  • Christians to cool controversy with carols | Churches will gather to challenge parade's religious-theme ban (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)
  • Town that displays menorahs sued for denying nativity scene | Law firm files suit against Bay Harbor Islands (WPLG, Miami)
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Bell-ringer ban backlash:

  • Target faces backlash for bell-ringer ban | When Florida was reeling from one hurricane after another during the summer, the Salvation Army was a welcome sight for thousands of storm victims. But with the holidays here, the charity's bell-ringers and red kettles have been barred from Target stores (Associated Press)
  • Critics Target bell-ringer ban | Salvation Army disappointed, Christian groups say shop at more charity-friendly stores (Modesto Bee, Ca.)

December dilemma in Australia:

  • Scrooge slammed for Christmas correctness | Sydney Mayor Clover Moore has been cast as the Grinch who stole Christmas after decorating her city's town hall with just one meager Christmas tree out of fear of offending non-Christians (Reuters)
  • Sydney Mayor denies playing Christmas 'Grinch' | Clover Moore says Sydney has spent more on Christmas decorations this year (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)
  • Let them know it's Christmas: PM | Sydney's most famous first resident, Prime Minister John Howard, has fallen off his sleigh over the city's plans to spend just $600,000 on Christmas because the mayor is worried about offending non-Christians (, Australia)

State funds for California missions:

  • Federal aid for churches is criticized | Group seeks to block tax-paid renovations (The Washington Post)
  • Heritage Act changes a burden, churches assert | Amendments to law punitive, groups say (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

Church & state in Europe:

  • Carol service moved over seat flap | An egalitarian vicar has left a group of civic dignitaries sitting on their, well, dignity (Associated Press)
  • Europe's theo-cons rally their forces | As secularists dominate public life, experts expect backlash (The Guardian, London)

Religious freedom in Turkey

  • Turkey policies on minorities spark debate | The problem revolved around the status of the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, a Turkish citizen and ethnic Greek (Associated Press)
  • Patriarchate row grows | Washington, Brussels and Athens back Vartholomaios in fight with Ankara (Kathimerini, Athens)


  • Iraq's last aid workers defy death | The three letters CPT, barely visible in the gloom of the stairwell, are the only hint that behind the barred front door live the last of the last — some of the very few Western humanitarian workers still operating in Iraq (The Times, London)
  • Thousands of Christians flee Iraq | The US-led occupation force is seemingly powerless to protect them, so many are packing up and leaving to seek sanctuary in neighbouring countries such as Syria and Jordan (Lateline, Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
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Religion & politics:

  • Christian Coalition fights bitter lawsuit after divorce | A Christian Coalition of America ex-official's lawsuit for $123,500 in unpaid compensation has put nepotism of the coalition's president and the acrimonious divorce of her daughter center stage in Virginia courts (The Washington Times)
  • Convictions should not be compromised | The disunity in America is not necessarily a negative thing. It depends on your perspective. (Lisa Krueger, The News-Leader, Springfield, Mo.)
  • Evangelicals invoke political holy war | What motivates this rising political force of evangelical Christianity? What guides them in the voting booth? Listening to Christian talk radio and reading evangelical Web sites provides a clear answer: It's the rapture (Alan Boraas, Anchorage Daily News)
  • Alabama clings to its past, with Christianity a dismaying ally | Christianity, it seems, has fallen in with bad companions (John Farmer, The Star-Ledger, Newark, N.J.)


  • Anti-abortion Dems seek better seat at table | Some Democrats still reeling from losses in 2000, 2002 and in this year's election say they could have reaped wins over Republicans if they had only treated one issue differently (Fox News)
  • A pro-choice party no more | If every vote counts, why does the Democratic party ignore pro-life Democrats? (Kristin Day, National Review Online)
  • Choice language | Abortion is a right that ends in sorrow. Democratic rhetoric in the future must acknowledge this fact (Sarah Blustain, The American Prospect)

Life ethics:

  • In service to inhumanity | NPR gives respectful hearing to Dutch baby euthanizers (George Neumayr, The American Spectator)
  • Cures that don't kill | Another breakthrough strengthens the case for concentrating on adult stem cell therapy, but the American media aren't listening (S. T. Karnick, The American Spectator)
  • The crying game | Should we decide capital punishment with our hearts or our heads? (Dahlia Lithwick, Slate)

Perception of evangelicals:

  • Who's an exemplary evangelical? | Readers respond to David Brooks (The New York Times)
  • Cable news cretinism | Jerry Falwell's straight story (Dana Stevens, Slate)
  • Why newspapers are losing faith | As the election showed, mainstream papers give evangelicals little ink (Dale Buss, Editor & Publisher)
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Calif. diocese settles abuse claims:

  • O.C. diocese settles abuse cases | The Roman Catholic Church reaches a deal with 87 plaintiffs. The undisclosed amount, reportedly a record, could affect L.A. talks (Los Angeles Times)
  • Calif. diocese settles clergy abuse cases | The Orange County diocese reached a settlement with 87 victims of clergy abuse, and a source close to the case told The Associated Press it promised to be bigger than the record $85 million agreement with the Boston Archdiocese (Associated Press)
  • Diocese settles lawsuits | Bishop Tod D. Brown apologizes and has a 'heartfelt hope for reconciliation and healing' (The Orange County Register)
  • Misguided uproar over 7 priests | The disclosure this week that seven wayward priests are living at an Oakland seminary either served a vital public service or was something like a 17th century witch hunt, depending on one's perspective (Chip Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle)

Abuse & crime:

  • Victims get say at priest abuse hearings | George seeking input on 14 cases (Chicago Tribune)
  • Ex-teacher gets 30 years for child porn | State charges are pending in Boyle county (Lexington Herald-Leader, Ky.)
  • Priest denies church, civil charges | First statement since suspension (The Arizona Republic)

Woman says priest impregnated her:

  • Suit claims local priest impregnated teen in 1965 | Says church pressured her to give away baby (The Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • Woman sues archdiocese, says priest impregnated her | A woman who says she was impregnated by a priest almost 40 years ago has sued the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati, charging the archdiocese pressured her into putting her baby up for adoption and remaining silent about the identity of the girl's father. (Associated Press)

Free speech:

  • School bus driver fired for stem cell talk | An elementary school bus driver was fired after sharing a statistic she had read about embryonic stem cell research with students, then encouraging them to tell their parents about it (Associated Press)
  • ACLU says FBI spying on religious, protest groups | "The FBI is wasting its time and our tax dollars spying on groups that criticize the government, like the Quakers in Colorado or Catholic Peace Ministries in Iowa," said ACLU associate legal director Ann Beeson (Reuters)

Young Christians:

  • Young Christian pastors fight porn | Web-savvy youth ministers work to get teens off online porn (Good Morning America, ABC)
  • Pendulum swings back toward faith | Many young adults are moving away from their parents' example--but not toward a more secular life, as was the case for so many Baby Boomers in the 1960s and '70s. Instead, they are carving out their own faith, which often is more devout or more active than that of their parents (Religion News Service)
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Missions & ministry:

  • Faithful service | Chaplain works to ease pain of kids with illnesses (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Why don't more evangelicals care about AIDS crisis? | Comments, along with another a heaping helping of U2 praise (Cathleen Falsani, Chicago Sun-Times)


  • Vatican fears anti-Christian feeling | Anti-Christian feeling is spreading in Muslim countries and other parts of the world because the war on terrorism is seen as linked to Western political strategy, says the Vatican's foreign minister (Reuters)
  • Two cheers, two saints | The Greek and Roman churches: Argument about a gesture from west to east (The Economist)
  • Pell backs war on 'politically correct' baptisms | Cardinal George Pell has backed the Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane's tough stand against renegade priests who performed "invalid" baptisms using politically correct language (The Australian)
  • Churches super-size as priest ranks thin | New house of worship can seat 1,500, more than most other Catholic churches in the state (The Indianapolis Star)
  • Pope to see Flynn, status report | Twin Cities archbishop's missive details growth, mistrust of leaders, social concerns (Pioneer Press, Minneapolis, Minn.)

Books & film:

  • Sex, conspiracy, and suicide: Just another day at church | There are good priests and bad priests, and in "Conspiracy of Silence" there is no in-between (The New York Times)
  • Intimately contemplating prayer's power and passion | n the introduction to 'Jesus, You Know,' the subjects of the austere, rigidly formalized documentary, six Austrian Catholics of varying ages and backgrounds, appear on-screen to voice their fervent hope that the film will enable audiences to "simply feel the power of prayer." Whether or not that wish is granted will depend on each viewer's attitude toward religious practice (The New York Times)
  • Striking back at the empires | The Caesars are gone. Someone else is now known as the son of God. And the story of that transition has meaning for modern Americans, says John Dominic Crossan, co-author of a new book about the Roman Empire and the Apostle Paul, who preached Christ in the first century and became Christianity's first theologian (The Oregonian)


  • O come, all ye Packers faithful | Some churches adjust Dec. 24 services to avoid game conflict (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
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  • Athletes get a grip on the Gospel | A former football pro tours with a team to tout Christianity (Statesman Journal, Salem, Ore.)
  • NFL says no to QB's message | Steelers' Roethlisberger told not to write "PFJ," which stands for Play For Jesus, on shoes (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)


  • Christian band Third Day finds maturity brings new challenges | Cooler response to recent album has puzzled members (Waco Tribune-Herald, Tex.)
  • Rocking for Christ | Evangelical Christian music is flowing into mainstream media -- and changing it (60 Minutes, CBS)
  • Can this punk-pop band make it big? 'Mmhmm' | Canton, Ohio, punk-pop quartet Relient K shifted its career into a higher gear with the release of its fourth album, Mmhmm, this month (USA Today)
  • Luther's hymns preserved | Just in time for the holiday season, the traditionalist party in America's worship war has introduced a new weapon against modernist insurgents. Actually, it's almost 500 years old: Martin Luther's music (Uwe Siemon-Netto, UPI)

Ambassador John Danforth resigns:

  • Sudan war marked Danforth's U.N. tenure | During his five months at the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador John Danforth has focused on one goal: bringing peace to Sudan, which has been engulfed in war for 21 years (Associated Press)
  • Danforth steps down from U.N. position | John Danforth, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has resigned after less than six months on the job, part of a growing exodus of high-ranking Bush administration officials before the president's second term begins next month (USA Today)
  • Diplomats at U.N. surprised by Danforth's resignation | The resignation of John Danforth as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations came as a surprise to those who had noted his commitment to drawing attention to Sudan (The New York Times)


  • Grawemeyer awarded to theologian's biographer | Notre Dame scholar wrote about Edwards (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.)
  • Press release: George M. Marsden wins Grawemeyer Award for "Jonathan Edwards: A Life"
  • Bishop Trotter to spread ecumenical vision | New Pentecostal leader could bring Baptist charismatic chieftains into the fold and form alliances with other conservative Christians (Chicago Tribune)
  • Also: Chicago bishop to head Pentecostals | Bishop J. Delano Ellis II never forgot the "mischievous juvenile delinquent" he transformed during a two-week retreat in a South Side church three decades ago (Chicago Sun-Times)

Adventist plane crash:

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  • Church leaders die in plane crash | Four officials of Georgia-based conference of Seventh-day Adventists perish in Tennessee (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • 5 Adventist Officials Killed in Plane Crash | A small plane carrying Seventh-day Adventist Church officials crashed soon after taking off from an airport in a rural, mountainous area, killing five of the six people on board. The only survivor, co-pilot Jim Huff. (Los Angeles Times)

More articles of interest:

  • Putting inspiration out front | For 16 years, Harvester Baptist Church in Columbia has put pithy sayings on its sign to attract people and give them a spiritual lift (The Baltimore Sun)
  • Marriage lasts 90 mins | Bride Vicky Anderson's marriage lasted just 90 minutes - after her husband was arrested at the reception for a drunken rampage (The Sun, U.K.)
  • Religion news in brief | Rowan Williams calls for deeper U.S. repentance, Massachusetts church files federal lawsuit over rental of public school, Minnesota town faces interfaith protests for endorsing 'Bible Week,' and other stories (Associated Press)

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