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United Methodists Bar Intelligent Design From General Conference

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The United Methodist Church (UMC), whose motto is “Open Minds, Open Hearts, Open Doors” has barred Discovery Institute from having an information table in the exhibit hall at their upcoming quadrennial General Conference this May. After submitting an application to be in the exhibit hall per the established process, Discovery Institute was informed that they would not allowed to be present as the Institute’s position on ID was at odds with the UMC’s Statement on Evolution and Intelligent Design which says in part that the UMC opposes “…the introduction of any faith-based theories such as Creationism or Intelligent Design into the science curriculum of our public schools.” It should be readily clear that when this language was drafted back in 2008 and inserted into the UMC’s Book of Discipline, the guiding document of the Church, that the UMC was grossly misinformed about the nature ID.

In citing this statement as the ostensible reason for denying Discovery Institute’s application for an info table, the UMC also demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the work of the Institute as well. In responding to the denial, Discovery Institute made clear that they do not advocate for including ID in public schools either. It was also pointed out that the conflation of creationism with ID is also incorrect, as regular readers of UD know all too well. But none of the actual facts seem to matter. After making formal appeal of the decision, Discovery Institute was told by the Chair of the UMC’s Commission on the General Conference, which is the deciding body for all things related to the conference, that the decision to bar Discovery Institute was final.

Now certainly the UMC or any other denomination or organization can include or exclude any group they wish. However, that doesn’t mean such a decision is right or even honest. Such is the case with this misinformed decision by the UMC. Further, given their reliance on certain flimsy, misinformed and incorrect statements in their social principles as justification for denying Discovery’s request, it is fair to take a closer look at how that criterion is applied in other cases. Doing so reveals that the UMC is quite inconsistent in its application of its own social principles in deciding who can and can’t be sponsors and exhibtors at General Conference. Two of the biggest sponsors are Home Depot and Staples, two corporations well known for their vocal advocacy of gay rights and same-sex marriage. Regardless of one’s stance on those particular issues, the UMC’s Book of Discipline makes very clear that both the practice of homosexuality and clergy performing or blessing same-sex unions are incompatible with Christian teaching. (It should be noted, however, that the UMC in no way bars or excludes gays or anyone else from attending their churches. Indeed the statement on inclusivity makes it quite clear that that is not the case.)

So why would the UMC accept Home Depot and Staples are major sponsors and exhibitors when both advocate strongly for positions that are completely at odds with the UMC’s official stance on these issues? I guess money talks, as both corporations shelled out several thousand for the privilege of being major sponsors. All of that suggests that the UMC is not playing fair, nor is it following its own criterion in an even-handed way in determining who can and can not be a sponsor or exhibitor at General Conference. For a denomination that proudly and loudly proclaims “Open Minds, Open Hearts, Open Doors”, it seems that they only mean that when it comes to certain things. As a United Methodist myself, I find all this quite hypocritical on the part of my Church’s leadership.

Discovery Institute is urging any interested parties to contact the UMC leadership responsible for this decision and ask them to reconsider. It would be the right thing to do in keeping with their motto.

Robert Byers in #10 noted
Organized creationism YEC/ID is scientific where they claim to be.
ID is not creationism or YEC, but rather it's a paradigm that assumes if something looks designed, it should be investigated as if it were. Practically speaking, it seems that science advances faster under this paradigm rather than the Darwinian paradigm that assumes everything occurs by chance and that unknown structures are presumed to be random junk, the useless leftovers from evolutionary processes until proven otherwise. -Q Querius
Organized creationism YEC/ID is scientificv where they claim to be. This religious group has no moral or intellectual right to define creationiosm as not science or say creationists are wrong or bad for saying so. They are not keeping faith based theories(whatever a theory would be from faith/) out of science class but AGGRESSIVELY accusing creationists of not doing science. Its about truth. Science is a tool to learn truth. So banning ID/YEC is saying they have decided its not truth. nOt just not science. If you think about it. Robert Byers
John Wesley is crying in heaven, but at least God is wiping away his tears. Mung
So, the UMC has an official opinion on a matter of public policy? When can we expect the IRS to remind them that political organizations cannot claim non-profit status? EvilSnack
That's the funniest damn thing I've read in a while. Jaskassery on parade. mike1962
History shows that when the Church is uncomfortable with your scientific idea - you probably have a deep idea. Exciting times:) ppolish
Querius in #3
But what about non-public schools? Do they oppose faith-based teaching in faith-based schools? Many public schools are now teaching the basic tenets of Islam. Is the United Methodist Church on record as opposed to this as well under the same separation of church and state?
That latter issue has only come up since the last General Conference. Whether or not there is any resolution being offered on it for a vote by this year's conference, I don't know. I don't think the UMC cares one way or the other about curriculum in private schools. At least I don't recall seeing anything on that in the Social Principles. It is interesting to me that the UMC has always been opposed to the idea of having private UMC schools, opting instead to support public schools. Perhaps that made sense 40 or 50 years ago, but in today's environment, when so much of what is included in public school curriculum is openly hostile to what the UMC believes, you'd think someone would want to see the establishment of Methodist K-12 schools around the country. Teaching young people in a Wesleyean tradition would be awesome! DonaldM
The Sin of Partiality My brothers and sisters, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called? [James 2:1-7 (ESV)]
"WHEREAS, The United Methodist Church has for many years supported the separation of church and State (¶ 164C, Book of Discipline, 2004, p. 119); Therefore, be it resolved, that the General Conference of The United Methodist Church go on record as opposing the introduction of any faith-based theories such as Creationism or Intelligent Design into the science curriculum of our public schools." But what about non-public schools? Do they oppose faith-based teaching in faith-based schools? Many public schools are now teaching the basic tenets of Islam. Is the United Methodist Church on record as opposed to this as well under the same separation of church and state? -Q Querius
Yep. The UMC is full of anti-Christian phonies. There are some good folks there but the denomination is out of control. So glad we left there after battling the wolves for 16 years. https://1eternitymatters.wordpress.com/2015/11/07/a-few-of-the-reasons-i-left-the-united-methodist-church/ homerj1

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