February 22, 2001
A declaration from religious leaders endorsing homosexuality and
other forms of sexual liberation continues to claim new signatories,
including a number of United Methodist leaders. At least four United
Methodist bishops and 26 United Methodist seminary faculty have so far
“The Religious Declaration on Sexual Morality, Justice and
Healing,” first released to the public a year ago, endorses same-sex
unions, abortion rights and an “end to sexual and social injustice.”
It was organized by the New York-based Sexuality Information and
Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), which advocates more
permissive attitudes towards sexuality.
Although over a year old, the Declaration’s list of endorsers is
still growing and, as of this month, includes over 2,000 religious
leaders. According to a denominational analysis by Lee Penn,
Unitarians are the largest group about the signatories. United Church
of Christ members rank second, followed by Episcopalians, Reformed
Jews and Methodists. At least 156 United Methodists, mostly clergy,
have signed the document.
United Methodist endorsers include Bishop William Dew of Phoenix,
Bishop Susan Morrison of Albany, New York, retired bishops Roy Sano
and Leontine Kelly, retired ecumenical officer Jeanne Audrey Powers,
Jesus Seminar leader Hal Taussig, Reconciling activists Greg Dell,
Jimmy Creech, and Ignacio Castuerra, social activist James Lawson,
Kathryn Johnson of the Methodist Federation for Social Action,
Re-Imagining activist Patricia Farris, and Harvard Pluralism Project
director Diana Eck.
Signatories also included faculty from United Methodist seminaries:
Candler School of Theology in Atlanta - Elizabeth Bounds.
Claremont School of Theology - Ann Taves, Lois Sprague, Marjorie
Hewitt Suchocki, Rod Parrott, John Cobb, Don Locher and Howard
Drew Theological School in New Jersey – Robert Corrington and
Iliff School of Theology in Denver - Delwin Brown, William Dean,
Charles Milligan, Don Messer, Jane Vennard and Larry Graham.
Garrett Evangelical Seminary – James Poling and Phyllis Bird.
Perkins School of Theology in Dallas - Evlyn Parker, Marjorie
Proctor-Smith, Victor Paul Furnish, Schubert Ogden and Roy Leslie
St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City – Robert Martin.
Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. - Carroll Saussy
and Youtha Hardman Cromwell.
So far the only United Methodist seminaries not represented among
the declaration’s endorsers are Duke Divinity School in North
Carolina, Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta and Boston School of
The declaration calls for the inclusion of sexual “wisdom” from
“often silenced peoples;” the full inclusion of “sexual
minorities” in congregational life, including their ordination and
the blessing of same-sex unions; sex education for all ages from
religious leaders and in schools; support for persons who “challenge
sexual oppression” and work for “justice” within their
denominations; the advocacy of “sexual and spiritual wholeness in
society;” faith-based support for voluntary abortion, contraception
and HIV/STD prevention and treatment; and religious leadership to
combat “sexual and social injustice.”
Signatories to the declaration came not only from mainline churches
and Jewish groups but also self-professed humanists, New Age groups,
SIECUS, the declaration’s organizer, is a 37-year old
organization that advocates the acceptance of homosexuality, full
abortion rights, the legal availability of pornography, and the
provision of contraceptives to under-age youth. More information about
SIECUS can be found at www.siecus.org. The declaration and its
signatories can be found at www.religionproject.org.