The United Methodist Church (UMC) strengthened its ban on gay and lesbian clergy and same-sex marriages during the church’s General Conference in St. Louis in the US. The decision – made by a vote of 438-384 – reinforced a UMC policy established in 1972 stating that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”
The vote for what is known as the “Traditional Plan” came after church leaders reject an earlier proposal, known as the “One Church Plan”, which would have allowed individual (and local) churches to perform same-sex weddings and hire openly LGBT clergy.
Under the “One Church Plan”, the statement that homosexuality is at odds with Christianity would have been eliminated. But now with the “Traditional Plan” getting more votes, UMC is giving sanctions to those who will break its anti-LGBT policies, and even asks those who will not obey it to find another church.
Many of the supporters of “One Church Plan” came from the US, where a wave of social change regarding LGBT rights has been happening. Meanwhile, supporters of the Traditional Plan include many African and Philippine UMC members, as well as evangelical members from Europe and the US.
This backward decision is feared to cause a schism in one of the world’s largest Protestant churches.