NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE, May 14, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – The United Methodist Church General Conference 2012 ended May 4 with no change to the church’s association with a pro-abortion religious group, earning a sharp rebuke from Lifewatch president and editor Rev. Paul T. Stallsworth.
The 12 million-member church is currently a member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, a self-described “leading religious voice for reproductive justice” founded in 1973 to “safeguard the newly-won” legal right to abortion. The RCRC trains and educates abortion advocates from many religious backgrounds. The United Methodists do not donate money to the organization, but their affiliation lends support to its mission statement, and several of the church’s board members attend RCRC meetings.
A petition to end the church’s membership in the coalition passed a legislative committee and sub-committee, but was not given a floor vote.
In a phone interview with LifeSiteNews.com, Rev. Stallsworth said he and other members of his pro-life, pro-family organization “have every reason to believe” pro-life delegates would have won a floor vote, citing the narrow 12-11 subcommittee vote and the wider full committee vote of 42-33 in favor of the petition. He believes conference leaders repeatedly rejected bringing it to the floor out of awareness that popular support for RCRC was lacking.
He predicted that new revelations about who made those decisions would be revealed in the weeks to come.
The abortion fight took a backseat to the contentious issue of same-sex unions. Despite intense lobbying efforts, the convention passed a resolution stating that homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching.”
In a statement, Stallsworth questioned why justice for the unborn was ignored yet the Conference found time to take up debate over church teaching on homosexuality. He also lamented that delegates were not allowed the opportunity to decide for themselves on the measure. Instead, Methodists must wait another four years to change their church’s official stance on abortion.
“During that time, church members and friends will be harmed by the practice of abortion, and others will leave our denomination out of the discouragement that affiliation with RCRC brings many United Methodists,” Stallsworth said. “The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice will continue to use and abuse our church’s name to advance its pro-choice political agenda. And our denomination’s blank-check endorsement of RCRC’s false and harmful teaching—that the abortion of unborn children, who are created in God’s image, is ‘God’s work’ and ‘holy work’—will remain.”
Stallsworth told LifeSiteNews that he attributes the greater attention given to homosexuality to the “vigorous and aggressive nature of the witness of those who are advancing the revisionist agenda,” who were more likely to be “in-your-face” with traditionalists than pro-life activists.
He also cited the general exhaustion and frustration of attendees, who had spent the rest of the conference working and arguing over other issues.
RCRC has a long history with the United Methodist Church; its first meeting place was the United Methodist Building in Washington, D.C.
Currently, the church favors “the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures” and advises the choice to be made “ after thoughtful and prayerful consideration by the parties involved, with medical, pastoral, and other appropriate counsel.”