You Won’t Believe How the United Methodist Church’s Decline is Altering the Battle Between LGBTQ and ‘Heteronormativity’ on PBS!

You Won't Believe How the United Methodist Church's Decline is Altering the Battle Between LGBTQ and 'Heteronormativity' on PBS!
You Won't Believe How the United Methodist Church's Decline is Altering the Battle Between LGBTQ and 'Heteronormativity' on PBS!
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Controversy flares up in one of America’s oldest Christian denominations. The United Methodist Church (UMC) has opened its doors wide, recently lifting its bans on LGBTQ clergy and same-sex marriages. What should have been a decision celebrated by all within the congregations, the change has instead widened the schism, sparking an eruption of mass exodus from the Church.

A global conference saw the UMC make this landmark decision. Hundreds of delegates congregated in Charlotte, it was the first such meeting since 2019. The unanimous decision made, it marked the end of the Church taking a stand against same-sex marriages and the ordination of LGBTQ clergy, practices that were once strictly forbidden. An expected celebration of unity, instead, found the Church losing ground as conservatives left in droves.

The UMC’s membership numbers dramatically dropped. By 2022, they were down to 5.4 million members in the U.S, a far cry from their peak in the 1960s. The trend continued to lean toward a free-fall in the wake of the recent departures. Geoff Bennett, a PBS NewsHour anchor, while reporting on this shift, missed a golden opportunity to elucidate the reasons behind the mass exodus. Instead, his softball questioning diverted from the main issue at stake.

Bennett invited Rev. Valerie Jackson, lead pastor of a UMC church in Denver, onto the show. Donning a rainbow scarf, Rev. Jackson shared her personal experience of the changes, avoiding the deeper question of the sustainability of a Church that’s lost so much of its flock. Her response was confusing, filled with mixed metaphors and personal anecdotes, skirting around the central issue at stake.

When Bennett raised the question of the Church’s perceived adaptation to modern culture, Rev. Jackson defended the Church’s changes, indicating that this marked an evolution of the Church and a deeper understanding of God. But isn’t the eternal and unchanging nature of God the very cornerstone of Christian faith? The conversation seemed incomplete without the counterbalance of a conservative religious figure to deliver their perspective on these significant shifts.

Rev. Jackson’s vision of a future UMC painted a rosy picture. LGBTQ couples in church unabashedly displaying their affection, thriving in love, life, and liberation. But the mass exodus reflects a substantial part of the Church membership that isn’t fully on board with this vision. Lack of dissenting voices within such discussions paints an unbalanced view, leading to exclusion rather than inclusion.

The media’s role should be to foster debate, not suppress it. Especially on an issue like this, where the faith of millions hangs in the balance. Conversations in our media spaces should aim to build bridges of dialogue, not tear them down.

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Next News Network Team

Next News Network Team

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