Posts Tagged ‘Amy DeLong’

Lobbing softballs in a Christian Century interview

February 2, 2012

Last year, I wrote about the controversy surrounding Amy DeLong. Her church trial—and the way it was reported—raised troubling questions for me that still haven’t been answered. She asserted in interviews that her same-sex partnership was a well-known secret that her unnamed superiors (who were they?) condoned with a wink and smile.

You think I’m exaggerating? In this recent Christian Century interview, DeLong described being called into her bishop’s office after it came to light that she performed a same-sex union service. She said:

The bishop’s assistant put up his hands and said to me: “Self-avowed practicing homosexual”—that’s the disciplinary language. This is language that as a gay person in the church, I have wrestled with forever and ever. I said, “Val and I aren’t practicing any more.” He said, “What?” I said, “No, we are pretty good at it by now.” He laughed.

Does this bother anyone besides me? Is it easier being an ordained Methodist elder in other conferences? Do other conferences set the bar lower than ours? At times, I feel like I went through… ahemhades during my eight-year long process of ordination. And one of the central questions the church wanted to find out during that process was, “Do you agree with and/or will you abide by the United Methodist Book of Discipline?”

I never got the impression that the North Georgia Conference wanted me so badly that they would tolerate my answering “no” to that question.

Is it all a laugh in Wisconsin? It cheapens my experience of being ordained.

Regardless, the interviewer lobbed nothing but softballs. I wrote the following comment in response. Please note that the questions I raise are good questions irrespective of one’s opinions about the issue of gay equality in church. A good journalist ought to find answers.

I’m a United Methodist elder-in-full-connection. The church’s position on homosexuality is the same today as it was when she was ordained. DeLong wasn’t blindsided by the church’s position after she got ordained. She chose to become a United Methodist clergy knowing that her sexual orientation put her at odds with the same Book of Discipline that she promised to abide by.

As a matter of integrity, why did she go through with it? Did her bishop know she was “self-affirmed” and “practicing” when she was ordained? If not, did she ever have to lie about or misrepresent her sexual orientation to her bishop, the Board of Ordained Ministry, the District Committee on Ordained Ministry, or other authorities who interviewed her during the lengthy process of ordination? Did the question never come up? It seems very unlikely from my experience.

Why the Methodist position on gays won’t change

June 27, 2011

This article is a bit smart-alecky for my tastes, but I appreciate that unlike every other article I read in the wake of last week’s Amy DeLong trial, this one describes why that trial’s outcome won’t affect the church’s stance on homosexuality. DeLong’s light and symbolic sentence (a 20-day suspension plus she has to write a term paper) isn’t a harbinger. Mark Tooley explains why.

Given the indignant howls on Twitter among DeLong’s supporters [see #loveontrial (ed. note: gag!)], I couldn’t help but enjoy this part:

But during the trial, in a rare instance of real life actually imitating television drama, the church’s prosecutor reportedly ignited “audible gasps” from the audience when he asked DeLong if she had “genital contact” with her partner. Apparently asking an actual question about sex, at a trial about sex, gave the courtroom crowd, mostly DeLong’s supporters, the vapors, though hopefully nobody fainted. DeLong declined to answer.

Cheerleading in the AP for repeal of Methodist gay ban

June 21, 2011

One AP writer is obviously rooting for the UMC to overturn its ban on gay ordination and marriage

The Associated Press is responsible for a wildly misleading article about the United Methodist Church’s ban on gay marriage and ordination, which appeared yesterday on many news websites including the USA Today. Read the article for yourself and see if you can’t detect which side the reporter is on in the dispute.

As someone who mostly slept through church polity class in seminary, I can only imagine how complicated the UMC’s system of government is. I don’t expect reporters not steeped in the nuances of the Book of Discipline to get the details right. But this article fails any standard of objective journalism, including answering the five W’s: who, what, where, when, and why. I know these are lean times in the newspaper industry, but don’t they still employ editors?

Here are some major problems with the article, paragraph by paragraph.

Methodist pastors have been marrying same-sex couples or conducting blessing ceremonies for same-sex unions for years with little fanfare and no backlash from the denomination.

Where? Who? How many? Is the lack of backlash from the denomination because the denomination doesn’t care that clergy are breaking church law, or are the clergy performing these services secretly? The latter seems far more likely, especially since—as the article rightly points out—there have been periodic church trials over the years against clergy who perform these services.

In fact, according to the article, the minister whose trial is being highlighted, Rev. Amy DeLong, is only on trial because she told church officials what she was doing. If she hadn’t done that, she likely would not be on trial now. But it wouldn’t be because the UMC didn’t have a problem with it—or that they were silently endorsing her actions.

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