Soulforce Wisconsin


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Soulforce Wisconsin in Action
Spiritual Violence Confronted in Wisconsin
Ending the Endless Debate in Wisconsin
Steven E. Webster, M.A.
Local Group Leader, Soulforce Wisconsin

In May of 2000, four GLBT Wisconsin United Methodists traveled to Cleveland, Ohio to be trained with nearly 200 Soulforce volunteers who were arrested and jailed for nonviolently opposing the spiritual violence committed by the United Methodist General Conference then meeting in Cleveland. It was at this Soulforce training and direct action that one of these Wisconsin United Methodists, Steven E. Webster, internalized one of the key themes of this direct action: "This Tragic Debate Must End. We Are God's Children, Too!" That principle would impel Steven into action two years later.

Early in 2002 Steven was invited to an informational meeting where two non-GLBT United Methodist clergy unveiled for representatives of Madison's gay community their completed plans to put on a Dialogue on Homosexuality Issues in Faith Based Communities to be cosponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Wisconsin Conference of the United Methodist Church and the ecumenical Wisconsin Council of Churches. Steven recognized that controversial speakers representing what theologian Walter Wink calls the anti-homosexual lobby would be given a great boost in prestige from appearing in this forum on a prestigious, liberal, Big-Ten University campus. Steven's Soulforce training kicked in and he saw that the Dialogue represented another round in an essentially endless and fruitless debate that promoted spiritual violence. Steven immediately began to voice objections, but the meeting was essentially a for information only meeting with no opportunity to propose any substantive change of course for the scheduled program.

Steven contacted Mel White via his e-mail address on the Soulforce, inc. website. Conversations with Mel White confirmed his concerns, so Steven, an M.A. in Religious Studies with an emphasis on GLBT issues, began to do some serious homework on the opposition speakers. One, 'til now little known scholar, Robert A.J. Gagnon, seems to be bent on building his carreer on the reputation of being the leading (if not the only) anti-LGBT bible scholar. Steven and Soulforce Wisconsin volunteer, Dr. George Gay, M.D. studied Gagnons book, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics, as well as any of the writings of the other speakers that any of the Soulforce volunteers could get their hands on. Our efforts were aimed at supporting a solid case for truth against untruth and the spiritual violence that untruth causes. Soulforce Wisconsin would be well-prepared to address the views of our adversaries.

Steven also began as soon as possible to visit with two other local GLBT supportive groups, Integrity/Dignity of Madison (a local ecumenical Christian LGBT ministry), and with the Madison Chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) who, coincidentally, were planning an October event featuring Mel White. There is considerable respect for Mel White in both these groups. Meetings with the leadership of both groups confirmed that Soulforce Wisconsin was on track in staking out a position that the endless debate must end.

Late in March Steven, together with the other three Wisconsin veterans of Soulforces direct action in Cleveland, Jim Dietrich, George Gay and Brian Soper, were officially licensed as an independent local group of Soulforce, inc. organized under the name Soulforce Wisconsin. Jim Dietrich, a graphic designer, quickly created some very sharp-looking letterhead and Steven drafted a letter to the heads of the cosponsoring organizations (to whom the Dialogue planners were accountable): Dean Roger Williams of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Bishop Sharon Rader of the Wisconsin Conference of the United Methodist Church and the Rev. Jerry Folk, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Council of Churches. The letter, which appears below, was eye-catching and well received and resulted, in three business days, in an invitation to a face to face meeting with all three of these leaders and their aides.

The letter (four pages long plus a two-page annotated bibliography) argued the following major points:

1) Soulforce Wisconsin is committed to the same continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found that is a core value of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

2) Soulforce believes that untruth is the major source of suffering for GLBT persons and results in spiritual violence which is harmful and even life-threatening.

3) The United Methodist Churchs official teachings and policies directly further spiritual violence, and the United Methodist Church cannot hold itself out as a neutral sponsor of a Dialogue on Homosexuality Issues.

4) The opposition speakers have published their untruths: Stanton Jones, writes and speaks as a scientist, but is actually bound by a signed faith statement imposed on him and other faculty members as a condition of employment by fundamentalist Wheaton College. Jones argues that true science must be subordinate to the Christian Bible as interpreted by the Wheaton College Statement of Faith. Robert A.J. Gagnon, a bible scholar, relies heavily on the discredited work of the notorious pseudo-scientist, Paul Cameron. (Cameron was expelled from the American Psychological Association for his unethical use of scientific research in political campaigns and the courts to falsely smear GLBT persons as promiscuous, diseased, and child molesters.) Robert Gagnon is Fred Phelps in academic attire, eager to travel the country to promote all of the worst cultural stereotypes that oppress GLBT persons. Gagnons zeal to oppress and repress GLBT persons exceeds his commitment to truth. Gagnons goal is to create sufficient social pressure to reduce the incidence of self-indentified homosexuals in the population--a kind of social/cultural genocide.

5) Having adequately established that he knew what he was talking about and meant what he said, Steven concluded the letter with a call for the co-sponsors to withdraw their support from the Dialogue. He promised that should the Dialogue go forward, Soulforce would organize a nonviolent, direct action to visibly oppose the event.

Steven, accompanied by a Soulforce friend who is a member of Madison PFLAG, met with the cosponsors and learned that they were mostly well-meaning, liberal folks with some understanding and insight into the churchs oppression of GLBT persons. Although they had thought that the Dialogue their planners were putting together was a good idea, there were signs that they were having second thoughts. Bishop Sharon Rader even disclosed to the group that her husband, a United Methodist pastor and a licensed psychotherapist, was considering joining the Soulforce protest. The essential support of the cosponsors was evidently weakening, but the forward momentum of the scheduled Dialogue made it very difficult to pull the plug at this late stage. It would take a little time for the Dialogue, now exposed to the light of the truth (thanks to Soulforce methods), to fall apart.

In the meantime Mel White was keeping in touch with Stevens work. Simultaneously, Mel wrote and published an essay Why we Cant Wait which focused on a call to GLBT people and their allies to unilaterally put an end to the endless, fruitless debates that have paralyzed the GLBT issue in Christian churches for thirty years. Mel also carried on a very active e-correspondence with the pro-GLBT participants in the Dialogue urging them to boycott the event. There was quite a lively exchange of ideas which were widely shared and appreciated.

One of the scheduled Dialogue participants, Marilyn Alexander, director of the unofficial United Methodist Reconciling Ministries Network, early on expressed her doubts about the upcoming Dialogue. Information supplied her by Steven about the Dialogue revealed that the event was not what she had been led to expect. The planners of the Dialogue were working feverishly (and without success) to try to find support for the Dialogue in the GLBT community to counter Soulforce Wisconsins challenge. They worked very hard for many weeks to try to keep Marilyn Alexander on board as the only out, GLBT United Methodist keynoter in the program. They pressured Marilyn with the information that her withdrawal would cause the major financial backer, the Wisconsin United Methodist Conference, to withdraw its support and pull the plug on the Dialogue, and, in mid-June 2002 that is what happened. Marilyn was the only United Methodist or out-GLBT keynoter, and the planners could not come up with an acceptable substitute. The Dialogue has been officially cancelled.

Where are we now? We have an exciting alternative program in the planning stages--Madison PFLAGs October Soulforce workshop which will bring Mel White to Wisconsin. Wed like to build that into a positive event for LGBT people and their friends in the University and Madison communities and beyond.

We have some fallout to contend with as Dialogue supporters/planners publicly express their disappointment that their October project has come to naught. We have some learnings to digest and share as we work with Soulforce, inc. to build a movement to unilaterally end similar debates nationwide. We have a lot of research to do to better understand our adversaries and confront the untruths which they promote in the hopes that we can eventually help them to see the truth.

The next General Conference of the United Methodist Church (a once in four-years event) is scheduled for Spring 2004 in Pittsburgh, PA.

March 28, 2002

Roger Williams, Chair
Department of Professional Development
and Applied Studies,
University of Wisconsin-Madison
610 Langdon Street, Room 313
Madison, WI 53703

The Rev. John Hobbins c/o Columbus United Methodist Church
222 S. Dickason Blvd. P.O. Box 392
Columbus, WI 53925

The Rev. Dr. Jerry Folk
Executive Director,
Wisconsin Council of Churches
750 Windsor Street, Suite 301
Sun Prairie, WI 53590

Bishop Sharon Zimmerman Rader
750 Windsor Street, P.O. Box 620
Sun Prairie WI 53590

Dear Friends,

I write this letter in the hope that you will understand why Soulforce Wisconsin believes the Dialogue on Homosexuality Issues in Faith Based Communities to be held at the Pyle Center of the University of Wisonsin-Madison, October 3-4, 2002 is an act of spiritual violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons. We are requesting that you join us in withdrawing your support, and the support of your institution, if possible, from this event. I thank you, in advance, for reading this lengthy explanation for our opposition to the Dialogue, and we welcome any discussion you may wish to have with us.

I write this letter at the invitation of the Rev. John Hobbins, a member of the Wisconsin United Methodist Churchs Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns (CCUIC). The United Methodist CCUIC is spearheading the Dialogue on Homosexuality Issues in Faith Based Communities cosponsored by the Wisconsin Conference of the United Methodist Church, the Wisconsin Council of Churches and the Department of Professional Development and Applied Studies of the Univeristy of Wisconsin - Madisons Division of Continuing Studies. The Dialogue is to be held at the Pyle Center of the University of Wisonsin-Madison, October 3-4, 2002. In an e-mail message to me dated March 22, 2002 Rev. Hobbins has encouraged me to call into question this conference and states that the intent [of the Dialogue] is to be equal opportunity offenders of the intolerant on both sides of the culture wars.

I am sure that Rev. Hobbins and I are both mindful of our beloved University of Wisconsins commitment, cast in bronze and mounted on the front of Bascom Hall, that:

Whatever may be the limitations which trammel inquiry elsewhere we believe the great state University of Wisconsin should ever encourage that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found.

I am the local group leader of Soulforce Wisconsin, an organization committed to seeking truth in the spirit of Jesus and applying the truth-seeking methods of M.K. Gandhi and M. L. King. We believe that untruth is the primary source of violence and suffering for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) persons, as it is for all humanity. Therefore we are committed to pursue with our opponents the truth in love relentlessly. Members of Soulforce Wisconsin were among nearly 200 Soulforce volunteers (including even a United Methodist Bishop) who at the most recent United Methodist General Conference in May of 2000 in Cleveland, Ohio went to jail in our nonviolent pursuit of truth with our opponents in the General Conference of the United Methodist Church.

It is Soulforce Wisconsins view that the official agencies of the United Methodist Church, like CCUIC, bound as they are by the Churchs official statement that we do not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching [Book of Discipline 2000, p. 101], cannot be impartial brokers of a genuine dialogue that would challenge the truth claims of that teaching. United Methodist teaching, like the teaching of most of the Christian churches which make up the Wisconsin Council of Churches, is a root cause of suffering and spiritual violence for LGBT persons. We believe that the scheduled Dialogue at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will cause further spiritual violence against LGBT persons.

What do we mean by spiritual violence? Spiritual violence takes the form of religious teaching and discriminatory practices which deny the human dignity and spiritual equality of LGBT persons before God, within their faith communities, and in their influence on the laws and policies of society at-large. These teachings and practices tend to alienate LGBT persons from their own spiritual traditions, from their faith communities, their families and even from their own spiritual selves. Indeed, the work of one researcher, Gary Remafedi, M.D.[Remafedi, p. 45] indicates that religion is actually a risk factor for suicide for LGBT youth. Remafedis Death by Denial contains a government sponsored study which concluded that LGBT youth make up to 30 percent of the completed suicides by teenagers in the United States. A familys religious faith may result in parents forcing gay children to leave home, and LGBT children are generally over-represented among homeless youth nationwide. Religion may create unresolvable internal conflicts in gay children who desire to live up to the ideals of their faith but find that they cannot change their sexual orientation. These internal conflicts can lead to suicide.

Spiritual violence occurs when United Methodist church law bars the candidacy of LGBT persons for ordained ministry solely because they are identified as LGBT. United Methodist church law is an instrument of spiritual violence when it forbids pastors and congregations from blessing the union of committed same-gender United Methodist couples. In 1999 seventy-four Soulforce volunteers went to jail in Grand Island, Nebraska for peacefully and nonviolently obstructing a United Methodist Church trial court which stripped the Rev. Jimmy Creech of his credentials as an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church solely for daring to bless the union of a same-gender couple.

United Methodist teaching has been used in various places to dismiss lay persons from jobs in church-related institutions, to deny lay persons admission to membership in the church, to deny LGBT church members equal participation in local congregations with non-LGBT members, and even to deny the sacrament to babies presented for baptism by same-gender couples. For all these acts of spiritual violence, repugnant even to many United Methodist leaders, there is no avenue of redress within the United Methodist Church under current church law. Indeed, United Methodist scholar, E. Dale Dunlap, who served on the committees which developed current United Methodist teaching on baptism and ordination writes:

In withholding certain pastoral and liturgical ministries (means of grace) from members who have been baptized with the same baptism and have been received into membership in the Church with the same profession and vows that apply to all United Methodists, but who are persons of same-gender orientation, the Church established a first-class membership and a second-class membership--an action that is theologically, ecclesially, and liturgically intolerable and indefensible. [Dunlap in The Loyal Opposition, Sample and Delong, eds., p. 79]

Spiritual violence occurs when LGBT people hear untruth about themselves preached from the pulpits of their churches at Sunday worship. Every round of endless and unresolvable debate sponsored by our churches provides another opportunity for the opponents of LGBT persons to share their latest sermon material promoting the untruth that God rejects Gods own LGBT children and inflicting spiritual violence from local church pulpits.

The truth is that the ongoing, endless debate, now thirty years old in the United Methodist Church, has itself become the instrument of injustice and spiritual violence against LGBT persons. The United Methodist Church once produced the careful, critical, cross-disciplinary work and real dialogue embodied in the 1992 United Methodist Report of the Committee to Study Homosexuality [see bibliographic note under The Church Studies Homosexuality] commissioned by the 1988 General Conference. There is still available local church curriculum based on this official study which is now being ignored in favor of endless and aimless dialogue which continues to rehash bad science and tired, heterosexist scriptural hermeneutics. This appears to be further evidence that fundamentalist, right wing propaganda and culture war political maneuvering continue to gain ground in United Methodist and other mainline Christian institutions.

Like most United Methodists, I am sure that Rev. John Hobbins and myself would like to think of our church as a moderate and tolerant denomination in the tradition of our eighteenth century Enlightenment founder, John Wesley. It is an image the church likes to cultivate in a current ad campaign that proclaims United Methodists to have open minds, open hearts and open doors. Unfortunately this is not the truth about the United Methodist Church when it comes to LGBT persons and their families and friends.

In sponsoring a dialogue with the cosponsorship of the University of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Council of Churches, the United Methodist Church cloaks itself in the Wisconsin tradition of fearless sifting and winnowing in the search for truth. However John Hobbins reveals much truth when he states that the the intent [of the Dialogue on Homosexuality] is to be equal opportunity offenders of the intolerant on both sides of the culture wars. By presenting keynote speakers that will be characterized by many (including myself) as at the extremes of both sides of the culture wars the United Methodist Church can define the spiritual violence which is the status quo of current United Methodist policy as middle of the road, moderate, and even tolerant. Rather than fearlessly sifting and winnowing in the search of truth, the United Methodist Church is normalizing the ongoing spiritual violence it inflicts on LGBT persons. By gaining the cosponsorship of the University of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Council of Churches, the United Methodist Church has co-opted two other great Wisconsin institutions into its own ongoing culture war of spiritual violence against LGBT persons. Like all spiritual violence, oppression and injustice, this war on LGBT persons is rooted in untruth.

The untruth at the root of United Methodist teaching is the untrue belief that homosexuality is a sickness and a sin. Two of the culture warriors in the upcoming dialogue are particularly offensive to the Wisconsin tradition of fearless sifting and winnowing in the search of truth. One keynoter, Dr. Stanton Jones, Ph.D. is being represented as a scientist. As a member of the Wheaton College faculty, Jones opinions on science are constrained by the fact that he (and all other faculty members at Wheaton) are required to annually affirm a Statement of Faith [reference in attached bibliography] that commits them to a literalistic interpretation of scripture. This mandatory Statement of Faith insists that God directly created Adam and Eve, the historical parents of the entire human race; and that they were created in His own image, distinct from all other living creatures. . . . (a denial of evolutionary science and critical Biblical scholarship) What we have here is the basis of the old, tired non-argument that God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. No scientist can argue with such unreasonable and unprovable assertions, because this is not science.

Dr. Jones peculiar notion of science is exposed in a quote which Jones uses to head up the first chapter of his book Homosexuality: The Use of Scientific Research in the Churchs Moral Debate [Jones, p. 11]:

It is clear that being a follower of Christ, exhibiting authentic commitment, and allowing the belief-content of that commitment to function as control within ones devising and weighing of theories are preconditions of arriving at a fully comprehensive, coherent, consistent, and true body of theories in the sciences.

Stanton Jones is not committed to the fearless sifting and winnowing in pursuit of truth, but to the authority of a particular interpretation of Scripture which he and Wheaton College favors. In a section of his book where, ironically, Jones warns that

we must contend with the possibility that we might come out of the dialogue changed and more in error than we were at the start. . . . Dialogue becomes a way to get traditionalists to back away from believing that they have a corner on the market on Gods truth. . . .How can a person who believes that God spoke in the words of Scripture and a person who does not believe that the Scriptures are Gods authoritative word ever achieve a common understanding? [Jones, p19, Jones emphasis]

Finally, Jones concludes this discussion of his approach to science and the pursuit of truth with this surprising approach to scientific method:

The ultimate, unavoidable issue is that some source of knowledge and understanding must be privileged, must be given the exalted status of the bedrock that we assume in faith to be trustworthy and reliable. To which source is the Christian church going to grant such privilege? The findings of science at this point in history? Human experience? Human reason? The Scriptures? [Jones, p19]

Dr. Jones, one of the two scientific keynoters at the Dialogue on Homosexuality leaves little doubt at the outset of his book that the findings of science simply do not enjoy the privileged and exalted status as a source of knowledge and understanding that his uncritical view of Scripture does. This is a strange view of epistemology and scientific method with which to approach the fearless sifting and winnowing for the truth that we prize at the University of Wisconsin. In fact, Jones seems to disqualify science as a dialogue partner unless it confirms his view of Scripture and his commitment to Wheatons Statement of Faith.

There is a serious problem as well with Assistant Professor Robert A. J. Gagnon, of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, who is being presented as one of the keynoters on biblical scholarship. While, indeed, Mr. Gagnon does have credentials as a biblical scholar, we find in his writings the same uncritical claim that the book of Genesis reveals Gods intentions for a perfect, heterosexual humankind [see Gagnon, p. 56-62 and frequent references to the sexual complementarity of men and women throughout Gagnons work]. GLBT people, according to Gagnons hermeneutic, must undergo transformation away from a past life of moral uncleanness. . .or perish along with unbelievers [Gagnon, p. 338] Mr. Gagnon may be entitled to his uncritical religious opinions about sexual complementarity however unsupported they may be by critical biblical scholarship, but Gagnon strays far beyond his area of scholarly expertise to present purportedly scientific and statistical claims despite the fact that he has no evident qualifications as either a scientist or statistician.

Mr. Gagnon, for instance, cites statistics that purport to indicate self-identified gay men are 708% more likely to live in cities as opposed to rural areas and that lesbians are 900% more likely to have college educations than non-lesbian women. With no other basis than these statistics he leaps to the conclusion that city life, college education and womens studies courses must be significant causes of homosexuality. After presenting these non-logical statistical arguments he concludes with the entirely unsupported prediction that the further erosion of cultural reservations about homosexual behavior in the United States will cause the percent of gays and lesbians in the population to grow, and he even predicts how much that growth will be.

Possibly with time the current 2-3% rates of self-identifying homosexuals and bisexuals could max out in the population at 15 - 25 %. This suggests that it is possible for aggressive homophile instruction in the schools to recruit some additional children into a homosexual lifestyle. . . . [Gagnon, pp. 416-418]

Gagnon has a solution to this alarming discovery that we have a burgeoning growth in the percent of gays and lesbians in our population--the church should seek to promote social repression. Still with no real scientific basis, Gagnon suggests that if we can increase the oppression of lesbians and gays not only in the church, but in society as well, we can decrease their numbers. Gagnon asserts:

Nevertheless, cross-cultural studies [which ones?] prove beyond a shadow of a doubt [really!?] that strong cultural disapproval of homosexual behavior can curtail the incidence of such behavior. So perhaps a better question to ask than Can homosexuals change? is Can the numbers of self-identifying homosexuals in a population be affected by cultural attitudes toward homosexual behavior? The answer to that question, I would contend, is Yes, significantly so. [Gagnon, p. 429. My comments added in square brackets.]

A plain statement, indeed, of the goals of the culture war of spiritual violence against LGBT persons. Gagnons lack of scientific credentials is most sadly apparent in his frequent uncritical reliance (more than a dozen citations) on the work of Paul Cameron, a psychologist who heads his own anti-gay organization, the Family Research Institute. Cameron was thrown out of the American Psychological Association for violating ethical principles in the conduct of his research. He was subsequently repudiated by the American Sociological Association for posing as a sociologist and has been widely discredited by mainstream science [Herman, p. 77].

There can be no real dialogue, no meeting of the minds between reason and unreason. You cannot reason someone out of something that he didn't reason himself into. The unreasonable, uncivil and unintelligent movement to further the oppression of lesbian and gay people must be vigorously opposed by gays, lesbians and their allies. We are pledged to meet this unreasoning, prejudiced movement against justice with the tools which Jesus gave us in his Sermon on the Mount, the tools which Gandhi, a student of Jesus, and Martin L. King, a minister of the Good News of Jesus, successfully applied--they are the proven tools of nonviolent resistance and direct action.

It is our hope that the United Methodist Church, the Wisconsin Council of Churches and the University of Wisconsin will recognize the spiritual violence which the so-called dialogue will cause, and will join us in withdrawing support for this event and dissociating themselves once and for all from discrimination, injustice and spiritual violence against Gods lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) children. Failing that, we intend to call upon all sponsors, presenters, participants, members of faith communities and the University of Wisconsin community to join us in boycotting the event and in vigorously and publicly expressing our rejection of spiritual violence by appropriate acts of nonviolent direct action.

When the forces of spiritual violence and oppression held sway in the British Empire, God gave the people of India Gandhi. When the same forces maintained an unjust and spiritually violent status quo in the United States, God gave us Martin Luther King. The methods of King and Gandhi are, in the present circumstances, the most relevant tools for the fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth may be found for Gods lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered children.


Steven E. Webster,
Local Group Leader, Soulforce Wisconsin

cc: Dr. Mel White
Soulforce Executive Director
P.O. Box 4467
Laguna Beach, CA. 92652


The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church 2000. Nashville: United Methodist Publishing House, 2000. The United Methodist Churchs book of church law and doctrine. In 1972 it addressed the issue of homosexuality for the first time in Methodist history. An initially liberal statement was brought to the General Conference in 1972, but was amended by the addition of the words . . .we do not condone the practice of homosexulaity and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching. This clause was added amidst fears expressed by General Conference delegates that the church would lose members to the Southern Baptist Convention if the liberal statement was left unamended. Since 1972, this amendment has served as the basis for the adoption of a growing body of church law, policies and practices which discriminate against LGBT persons and their supporters.

The Church Studies Homosexuality: A Study for United Methodist Groups Using the Report of the Committee to Study Homosexuality. Nashville: The United Methodist Publishing House, 1994. This is a curriculum that was authorized by action of the 1992 General Conference based upon the work of the official Committee to Study Homosexuality created by action of the 1988 General Conference, and it contains that committees final report. This is a very useful curriculum resource for local churches who wish to study this issue. The curriculum encourages local churches to invite LGBT persons to take part with them in the study process and encourages respectful dialogue at the local level. That the United Methodist Church seems to be backing away from the use of this well-reasoned and structured resource in favor of endless debate by both sides of the culture war is a barometer the the growing strength of the Christian Right in mainline Christianity.

Gagnon, Robert A. J. The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics. Nashville: Abingdon, 2001. Robert Gagnon, a keynoter at the scheduled October 2002 dialogue at the UW-Madisons Pyle Center, has been traveling the country as a featured speaker at gatherings of anti-gay evangelical activists in the United Methodist Church and Presbyterian Church (USA).

Herman, Didi. The Antigay Agenda: Orthodox Vision and the Christian Right. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997. Herman, a professor of law in Britain, offers a scholarly analysis of the rhetoric and tactics of the political Christian Right movement in the United States which includes information on the role of anti-gay psychologist Paul Cameron in the production of scientific misinformation widely used in the Christian Right and in Robert Gagnons work, cited above.

Jones, Stanton L. and Yarhouse, Mark A. Homosexuality: The Use of Scientific Research in the Churchs Moral Debate. Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2000. Jones, a faculty member of evangelical Wheaton College offers a peculiar philosophy of science as an activity in which only a follower of Christ, exhibiting authentic commitment is capable arriving at a fully comprehensive, coherent, consistent, and true body of theories in the sciences [p. 11].

Remafedi, M.D., Gary, ed. Death by Denial, Studies of Suicide in Gay and Lesbian Teenagers. Boston: Alyson, 1994. This book includes the chapter from the frequently cited government study which concluded that gay youth may comprise up to 30 percent of completed youth suicides.

Sample, Tex and DeLong, Amy, eds. The Loyal Opposition: Struggling with the Church on Homosexuality. Nashville: Abingdon, 2000. Seventeen United Methodist leaders and scholars share their insights on why they stand in opposition to the official teaching of the United Methodist Church on homosexuality. Abingdon, an arm of the United Methodist Publishing House seems to be constrained by church policies and politics to publish both sides of the debate in alternate pro/con publications--a practice which distorts the actual balance of opinions among informed scholars in the church, limiting the number of works published by liberals and exaggerating the significance of works written by anti-LGBT evangelicals. This mirrors the politics and assumptions underlying the planning for the Dialogue on Homosexuality Issues in Faith Based Communities which is to be held at the Pyle Center of the University of Wisonsin-Madison, October 3-4, 2002.

Statement of Faith of Wheaton College . Accessed on March 26, 2002 at <<>> Wheatons website states, The doctrinal statement of Wheaton College, reaffirmed annually by its Board of Trustees, faculty, and staff, provides a summary of biblical doctrine that is consonant with evangelical Christianity. Author Stanton Jones, a faculty member of Wheaton, appears to agree in his writings with the Biblical literalism and creationist views of truth which this statement requires of Wheaton faculty. A view of truth and truth-seeking foreign to the fearless sifting and winnowing tradition of the University of Wisconsin.


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Lifestyle article Aug27, 2002