About Bishop Carcano’s statement in the wake of Orlando

June 13, 2016

In response to yesterday’s public statement by United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcano, of the rapidly shrinking California-Pacific Conference, I affirm every word of this Mark Tooley blog post:

United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcano of the California-Pacific Conference responded to the Orlando gay nightclub mass murders by a reported pro-ISIS Islamist with the suggestion that her denomination’s traditional marriage teaching is to blame:

As I have prayed for the victims of this latest shooting, for the shooter and his family, for the people of Orlando, and for us, I have been struck by a concern that has penetrated my heart. Is it possible that we United Methodists with such a negative attitude and position against LGBTQI persons contribute to such a crime? When we say that those who are of a homosexual gender identity are living lives that are incompatible with Christian teaching, that they are not to be included in our ordained leadership, and that they are not important enough for us to invest resources of the Church in advocating for their well-being, in essence when we say that our LGBTQI brothers and sisters are not worthy of the fullness of life that Christ offers us all, are we not contributing to the kind of thinking that promotes doing harm to these our brothers and sisters, our children, the sacred children of God?

United Methodism’s definition of marriage as the union of man and woman is unexceptionably the official and historic stance of about 99% of organized Christianity, including Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and nearly every Protestant tradition except a handful of shrinking denominations in northwestern Europe and North America.

The Orlando killer, Omar Mateen, was the son of a pro-Taliban Afghan immigrant.  It’s unlikely he ever heard of United Methodism.  To the extent that he had any views about Christianity they were almost certainly hostile.  Since he professed support for ISIS he likely supported ISIS persecution and murder of Christians.  ISIS practices traditional Islamic law, which requires death for homosexuals.  Several Islamic regimes stipulate death penalties for homosexuals, including Iran, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.  Bishop Carcano in her blog about Orlando never mentions the killer or his ISIS or Islamist connection. She only faults the United Methodist Church.

There is a myopic vein of Western multiculturalism popular within liberal Protestantism that assumes the world is safe and beautiful but for the crimes of Western Civilization and Christianity.  There are indeed many crimes attributable to denizens of both, but neither invented nor has a monopoly on crime, which has always been endemic to the human experience. This vein of multiculturalism is typically incapable of admitting sins within other cultures and religions, preferring to see them only as victims.

In 2004 I submitted a series of resolutions to the United Methodist General critiqueing some of the world’s worst human rights abusers according to groups like Amnesty International, such as North Korea, China, Iran, Cuba, among others. They were all defeated in the Church and Society legislative committee.  One critic complained I was targeting anti-American regimes.  But I included Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco and Pakistan, which are traditional U.S. strategic allies. My resolutions cited harsh penalties for homosexuals by both Islamic and communist regimes.  Yet there was no interest even by United Methodist activists who profess to support gay rights.

In this vein, a prominent pro-LGBTQ delegate from last month’s United Methodist General Conference named Dorothee Benz has been tweeting in support of Bishop Carcano’s blog blaming United Methodism and Christianity for Orlando, plus expressing  solidarity with Muslims, without citing radical Islam.  No criticism or mention of the killer or his professed Islamist motivation.

Written hours after the ugly news from Orlando, Bishop Carcano’s blog was maybe composed hastily. I hope she edits or deletes it.  I also hope that some day within official United Methodism, among other places in our culture, there is a more grounded and universal perspective about human evil, embodied by ISIS and the Orlando killer.

Meanwhile, here’s a heartfelt response to the Orlando horror by Upper New York United Methodist Bishop Mark Webb, who concludes:

Lord, in your mercy allow goodness to overcome evil and light to pierce the darkness, comfort those who mourn, touch those who need your healing and provide peace in the midst of fear. Lord, in your mercy allow goodness to overcome evil and light to pierce the darkness.

48 Responses to “About Bishop Carcano’s statement in the wake of Orlando”

  1. Tom Harkins Says:

    Yeah, I expected this “liberal backlash.” Probably will result in some law or another banning any statements that LGBTQ’s are “immoral” and the like.

    • brentwhite Says:

      I’m not sure, at this rate, that a law has to be passed. Private companies like Facebook, Twitter, and blog services like WordPress can just remove any speech considered “hate speech.” I hope they don’t! But who knows?

  2. Mary Fletcher Says:

    Honestly, one of our Bishops is wanting to blame United Methodists and other Christians for believing in the Bible for their beliefs, for what this killer did? Would she blame God as well? Love to talk with her. Arrgh!

  3. Grant Essex Says:

    Carcano’s guilt ridden, convoluted rambling indicates to me that she is unfit to hold the position she has attained. It reminds me of the nonsense being taught to our children in the public schools about sexual preference, gender identity, conflict resolution and downplaying exceptionalism, to name a few.

  4. Kenna Norfleet Says:

    Brent, again you hit the nail on the head and thank you for helping us to sniff out the crazies in our denomination! As a faithful Methodist and Christian who strives to follow Jesus’ 2 commandments: to love God and to love one another, I am not blind to the fact of sin and evil in this world! We have to be proactive in refuting the bullying that is rampant by liberals and progressives, within our church and without. I totally agree with what has been written above.

  5. Amy B Says:

    People were murdered. They suffered indescribable terror and pain. Families destroyed. And this is your ministering. I know your blog does not equal your ministry but it still makes me so sad. I came here specifically to see how the evangelical community was responding to this horror. I thought of you immediately when I read today’s news that it is likely that “self-loathing closeted gay homophobe” was just as important to understanding the murderer’s actions as “religious extremist.” And then you indulge, and even encourage, commenters who snidely dismiss liberals, progressives, conflict resolution, learning about gender identity, and “crazies.”

    You agree when a commenter dismisses Carcano’s short statement as “guilt-ridden, convoluted rambling.” What’s with the snide comment about her being “guilt-ridden?”

    You are missing the point of her post. She does not say Methodists caused this crime and to read her statement as such is willfully stubborn. She wonders if anti-gay churches foster an atmosphere that leads to violence against gays, whether perpetrated by garden-variety anti-gay people, or by violent closeted men who turn their self-hatred outward to others. Can you thoughtfully engage her anguished question without resorting to snideness?

    • Tom Harkins Says:

      Brent, of course, can respond as he wishes. I note that you say:”She wonders if anti-gay churches foster an atmosphere that leads to violence against gays, whether perpetrated by garden-variety anti-gay people, or by violent closeted men who turn their self-hatred outward to others.” I think we are being responsive to this “question.” First of all, what do you mean by “anti-gay churches”? Do you mean churches that do not admit practicing gay clergy or perform gay marriage ceremonies? That’s just the point. She is surmising that taking a biblical stance on the question of marriage and sexual relations is something that promotes violence. That is a “typical liberal agenda.” She is not being more concerned with the families of the deceased or the survivors than we are. She wants to make this a “teaching moment” to “change the church’s stance” on biblical marriage. That’s the point of this post, as I see it.

      As far as concern for the actual people harmed, Brent closed the post with a prayer from the author quoted, as follows: “Lord, in your mercy allow goodness to overcome evil and light to pierce the darkness, comfort those who mourn, touch those who need your healing and provide peace in the midst of fear. Lord, in your mercy allow goodness to overcome evil and light to pierce the darkness.” Doesn’t that show some Christian compassion? Isn’t that what you said you were looking for?

    • brentwhite Says:

      Amy: I don’t blame you for giving Bishop Carcano’s statement more credit than I do. From my perspective as an “insider,” however, given everything else she’s said and done within the United Methodist Church, she hasn’t earned the benefit of the doubt.

      I’m being “willfully stubborn”? She said that people like me, along with the vast majority of the Christian church—never mind the UMC, never mind most evangelicals—contribute to “the kind of thinking that promotes doing harm to these our brothers and sisters, our children, the sacred children of God.” By doing what? Believing these things? Saying we do so?

      Even if our believing and speaking (what we believe to be) the truth about the issue of homosexual practice were causing harm, this is not close to the kind of “harm” done by someone who murders 49 people and seriously injures many more.

      The violence of Orlando is unique and unprecedented. It was carried out by someone who couldn’t care less about doctrinal questions in a small denomination within Christendom. There’s no continuity between these two things. So in fact, the United Methodist Church’s doctrine on sexuality contributed nothing to this man’s decision to shoot up a nightclub.

      As for my commenters, they can speak for themselves. Her statement was “guilt-inducing” more than guilt-ridden, but I assume that’s what the commenter meant. And that’s what I was affirming.

    • brentwhite Says:

      As for my “ministering,” I absolutely hate defending myself. Our church is having a brief prayer and remembrance service for victims and loved ones on the front steps beginning at 9:55 this Sunday. In an email blast, I invited church members to join me in a prayer similar to the one quoted above.

  6. Grant Essex Says:

    By “guilt ridden” I mean that she has bought into the view that Christians who believe that the homosexual lifestyle is offensive to God and contrary to His Word are somehow also promoting violence against gays. I reject that premise.

    If you want to blame a religion for what happened, blame the religion that teaches homosexuals should be killed.

    Hint: Islam and Sharia Law. Why is it so hard to place the blame/responsibility where it actually belongs. What happened in Orlando is unspeakably evil, but it wasn’t because of Christianity.

    As for myself, I don’t hate “gays”, nor to I wish them any harm. If my disagreeing with the lifestyle and my believing that it is a sin hurts their feelings, that’s not my problem. Their comments about folks like me are more toxic than mine about them. The militant LBGT activist community wants nothing less than to punish “homophobes”, as they define it. They want us jailed, fined or silenced for “hate speech”.

  7. Grant Essex Says:

    Oh my. I just turned on the news and hear that Omar Mateen might be gay himself. That’s really going to confuse liberals on who to blame, and why, now. We might be talking demons now, to refer to another recent discussion.

    • Amy B Says:

      Grant, that was exactly what I was referring to in my post: I think you missed that. You are completely out of touch with what the gay community wants. Ya’ll are beyond hope (see: Grant’s snide “Oh my, won’t the liberals be confused NOW!” tone) and I don’t know why I keep reading my friend Brent’s blog. It is like biting on a canker sore inside my mouth. Gay-obsessed evangelical men, I can’t quit you!!!!!!

      • brentwhite Says:

        Who’s obsessed, Amy? If you haven’t noticed, our culture is obsessed. So as this obsession overlaps my vocation, I feel compelled to write about it.

  8. Grant Essex Says:

    Sorry Amy. I don’t wish to upset you. But, in a way, you are making my point. I am taking a strong position, based on my reading of Scripture, and thoughtful commentaries, related to the homosexual lifestyle, and you are reacting to them with anger and derision. Perhaps we both have our “rose colored glasses”. I also find it next to impossible to have a reasoned conversation with abortion activists.

    I’ll say it again, what happened in Orlando is a despicable evil straight from hell. My original comment was related to the commentary by the Methodist Bishop in California, which is what Brent was opening for discussion. It is Muslims who believe that homosexuals should be killed. Christians are not guilty here.

  9. Amy B Says:

    Where are you getting that I am “upset”? That’s a typical dude move! Also, where is my anger and derision? My Brokeback Mountain joke? That’s a joke on ME. Why do I keep coming back? Hope springs eternal. I keep hoping Brent and Tom will get obsessed with *something else.* Like running or the Kinks or global climate change.

    It is not Muslims who believe gay people should be killed. It is nutjobs and radicals and extremists (of many religions). How do you feel when someone calls Kevin Swanson “a Christian”?

    Contrary to what you might think, I do not want to force *any* church to let gay people get married in the church. Nor do I want to throw you in jail for thinking gayness is a sin. Nor does any queer person I know and I know a LOT more than you, I’d wager.

    • brentwhite Says:

      I got the joke, Amy. I’m flattered: you must think I’m at least a good writer or something! 😉 Speaking for myself, I’m much more obsessed with running and the Kinks. Seriously… But this blog isn’t about those things. It’s mostly about the Bible, theology, and—here’s the rub—Methodist-related things.

      Since sexuality is the presenting issue that will likely tear our denomination apart within four years, everyone who blogs about Methodist things blogs about this. It affects my livelihood, for one thing—not to mention my personal and professional integrity. This is what I believe. This is what I stood before my church, my bishop, and God and affirmed that I believed—not too many years ago. I wasn’t lying. I wasn’t being disingenuous. I wasn’t crossing my fingers.

      I graduated from Emory as a theological progressive, alongside many of my classmates. I changed. But I’m not aware of having done so for any reason other than, first, an intellectual conviction that revisionism on this subject was based on an inconsistent biblical hermeneutic.

      Besides, if I were theologically progressive and wrote about this subject much more than I do (and I literally didn’t write about it for, like, six months until the lead-up to General Conference recently), you likely wouldn’t think that I was obsessed.

    • Tom Harkins Says:

      Amy, you say, “I do not want to force *any* church to let gay people get married in the church. Nor do I want to throw you in jail for thinking gayness is a sin.” That’s great! So, what do you want? I think everyone here has said that the event in Orlando was tragic and we wish all the best to the families and survivors.

      The fact is, though, that there are those in many in churches which push for gay ordination and gay marriage ceremonies who do use events like this to suggest that any opposition comes from “homophobes” and, as in this very instance, may be the root cause for violence such as here–as in the very statement by Carcano that Brent was responding to. It is absurd to argue that the current UMC position on gay ordination or gay marriages somehow inspired this sick man to “pull the trigger.” Although we don’t know why this happened, if it had any “religious” motivation at all, then it was Islamic, and the Islamic faith indeed does teach that homosexuality should be punished by the death penalty. There may be many Muslims who don’t push for that, which is great, but in fact that is the teaching of that religion.

      So, you are opposed to what we are saying here–why?

  10. Grant Essex Says:

    Well this has certainly gotten ugly. You do bring a lot of anger to this. I think your “anger and derision” are obvious in this post. If you don’t think you are upset, I would hate to see you when you are.

    What is it you do want? No discussion of other views? Avoid a subject that is tearing denomination after denomination apart? The pro gay life lobby certainly wants to discuss it when it comes to having their side heard (and implemented).

    Again, I’m sorry that I’m upsetting you, but it seems that you come to this discussion pretty upset already.

    And yes, you probably do know more queer folk than I do, but I know a lot. Some can discuss our differences without rancor, and some have an enormous chip on their shoulder. Therefore, some of us get along (live and let live) and some of us don’t. But, I have never been ugly, much less violent toward any person because of his/her sexual orientation. I tell them that I don’t understand it. That I can’t really get past “the yuck factor”. And, that I don’t feel it is natural, or what God intended. They tell me they think I’m wrong, in varying degrees of stridency. Some of us remain friends and some don’t. I also have friends who have gay children. It produces similar problems, so we just don’t discuss it for the most part.

    As Reverend Hamilton says, most of us “haters” will die off soon, and this brave new world will move inexorably further and further into sexual “variety”. It’s fate is in God’s hands.

  11. Grant Essex Says:

    One last question:

    If Jesus came back today, would he just “love homosexuals as they are”, or would he heal them?

    It’s a serious question, and I don’t really know the answer. If I did, then this discussion would be resolved.

    • Amy B Says:

      I keep telling you I am not “upset” and you keep telling me I am! So that’s going nowhere. I just re-read my 3 posts and I am seeing sadness and frustration and maybe some impatience but not “upset and anger.” You are projecting things onto me that perhaps you have encountered in other debates.

      I think the “yuck” factor is so meaningful and I am sincerely glad you brought it up. By “yuck” I assume you mean “gay sex.” A focus on sex places all the meaning on sex and so little on the durable aspects of partnership: love, devotion, loyalty, inspiration, admiration, companionship, support, comfort, and so on.

      A lot of things in this world need healing, but love between two gay people is not a sickness. I know you think it is. I am sorry for all those affected by your belief. I hope you find peace.

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        “A focus on sex places all the meaning on sex.” But isn’t that the very thing the homosexual lobby is lobbing for? The right to have that kind of sex and not be thought to be doing anything against the Bible when they do so? As far as “love, devotion, loyalty, inspiration, admiration, companionship, support, comfort, and so on,” people can have those noble motivations and actions regardless of any sexual activity–it is hardly necessary to have homosexual sex to exhibit those.

  12. Amy B Says:

    No, that is not “the very thing the homosexual lobby is lobbing for.” Nope. Nope. Nope. You are seriously out of touch. First, there is no “HOMOSEXUAL LOBBY.” That’s Fox News silliness. (Brent, are you really on board with this?)

    Second, The Gays are definitely not asking your permission to have sex. Yes, where sodomy laws are on the books they aim to get those off. That fight has mostly been won. Which is great news for all the straight people who have been persecuted, beaten, or jailed for having oral sex. Oh, wait……

    Third, here’s what LGBTQ people:

    Equal rights

    That is what they most want politically.

    Now, personally, they would also like 1) to see themselves and their families reflected fairly in popular culture, 2) love & acceptance from their families and 3) many would like an inclusive place to worship. Those things can’t be legislated of course! It’s up to us to make it happen and I am so happy to see how much progress has been made in such a short time.

    • Amy B Says:

      “Third, here’s what LGBTQ people want:”

    • Tom Harkins Says:

      LGBTQ people may want a lot of things. What they want from the Church is an admission that men having sex with men and women with women is not a “perversion,” despite the Bible plainly saying that it is. LGBTQ wants the Church to impose no negative consequences on LGBTQ people with respect to marriage ceremonies, ordination, and church membership. That’s what they want from the Church. And when they don’t get that, and some tragedy happens that involves LGBTQ people, then those supporting “Church equality” say, “Oh, but look, if only you had not opposed us, this tragedy would not have occurred.” That is what is ridiculous, and what Brent, Grant, and I are saying is ridiculous.

    • brentwhite Says:

      Amy, I don’t watch Fox News, but I assume there are many pro-LGBTQ advocacy groups in Washington. Collectively, I don’t think it’s wrong to call them a “lobby.” That’s not pejorative; its politics. Right?

    • brentwhite Says:

      Also, Amy, what do you make of the controversies involving wedding photographers and cake bakers, for instance, who’ve been sued out of business in the past couple of years for refusing to perform their services in relation to gay weddings. Weren’t these vendors’ First Amendment rights abridged when it comes to both freedom of association and freedom of religion? These vendors weren’t interfering with LGBTQ people’s right to be married—or any of the other things that you say they want. Yet here we are… The public bathroom controversy regarding transgendered people doesn’t fall under your categories, either.

      My point is, it seems like you’re minimizing “what LGBTQ people want.”

      • Grant Essex Says:

        Men can love other men. Women can love other women. Deeply, tenderly and with great compassion. It doesn’t become homosexual until you introduce physical passion, i.e. sex into the relationship. That’s the meaning of it.

        Words mean things. “Homosexual Person” has a meaning. So do other things. For instance, MARRIAGE means “between a man and a woman”. It has for thousands of years.

        If you want to create a covenant relationship between two men, or two women, call it something else. The secular legal system, and much of society, has affirmed and protected the right to that relationship. How about “Civil Union”.

        What “equal rights” are currently being denied LBGT people? There are differences between rights and wants. Ten, twenty years ago, yes there were discriminations, and the secular authorities have since eliminated them. What remains?

  13. Amy B Says:

    It ate my comment, thought it was code:

    ((realizes you guys are bathroom bill types)) ((#itsworsethanithought)) (bangs head on desk)) ((gives up))

    • brentwhite Says:

      What is a “bathroom bill type”? I was just using it as an example of something more than what you say LGBT people want. As are the many lawsuits against wedding-related vendors. If you disagree with the validity of these examples, please say why. Don’t walk away now.

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        Brent, unfortunately the “liberals” generally walk away once faced with pretty good arguments against their position, but not without a “parting shot,” as made in this case. Hopefully Amy will reconsider that, but it is doubtful.

      • Amy B Says:

        The jerkiness of Tom Harkins’ comment below has taken this to a new low. Nice pals ya got, Brent.

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        Amy, I was responding to your comment, “But not without leaving you” and my experience with other commentators. Sorry I misjudged you. Are you going to respond to Brent’s points, or mine about what LGBTQ’s want from the Church?

      • brentwhite Says:

        They are nice, if you met them… (I haven’t met Tom yet, but the next time I’m in Texas…) But argue back, Amy. Tom is a lawyer. He loves arguing. But we all have strong opinions and convictions. I love that we can express them.

    • Grant Essex Says:

      Romans 1:-28 pretty much condemns all sin, not just homosexuality. However, homosexuality is emphasized in 1:27. But, all sin is offensive to God. It’s why we must be restored in our relationship.

      I have no clue what the Congressman was trying to prove with his statement. Congress folk are often stupid folk.

      • Amy B Says:

        You have no clue? Wanna hazard a guess as to why a right wing Republican would read this verse specifically before the vote on a bill that included an amendment barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity?

    • brentwhite Says:

      The Romans passage in question, regardless what the congressman intended by reading it, says that all of us sinners are in grave danger apart from God’s grace.

      You don’t disagree that he can read what he wants to and believe what he wants to, right?

  14. Grant Essex Says:

    No, I meant I have no clue what he thought he would accomplish. If we want to play dueling stupid Congressmen, I will dredge up quotes from Sheila Jackson Lee, Cynthia McKinney, Luis Gutierrez, or Anthony Weiner.

    I think we have digressed a long way from a Methodist Bishop who was telling us to consider that the views of our own denomination on Gay marriage might have contributed to the Orlando shooting.

    You implied that Brent didn’t understand that: “She wonders if anti-gay churches foster an atmosphere that leads to violence against gays” My response to that is/was; that’s nonsense. Islam is the culprit here. Why does she take on a mantle of guilt?

    Oh well, you seem pretty much convinced that what she posits is true. That’s your right, of course. I can reject it, without convincing you otherwise.

    A blog is a pretty ineffective way to have a discussion like this. I cannot help but believe that if you, Brent, Tom and I were in a room, speaking face to face, we would be able to have a civil discourse. I believe that we would all see more goodwill in one another. In the blog format, we tend to misread tone, inflection and basic humanity.

    So once again, I will apologize for getting you upset. There is nothing helpful in that, especially when the main topic is such an horrific event as this one.

  15. Amy B Says:

    “I am sorry you are so upset.” “I am not upset.” “You seem to be really upset!” “No, you must be mistaking me for someone else. I am not upset. I am sad, weary, impatient.” “Oh, well, anyway, sorry to have upset you so much!”

    I have never been so mansplained about my own emotions in my entire life, and that is really saying something.

  16. Grant Essex Says:

    I guess maybe that’s my point about blogs. I sense that you and I could have an intelligent, thoughtful conversation about this eyeball to eyeball.

    So, I’m sorry that you are sad and weary. If you know and like Brent, then you should know better than to assume the worst about us. We just happen to disagree on a very sensitive topic. It’s not a hate thing.

  17. Grant Essex Says:

    Rick Warren quote:

    “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”


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