UMAction Briefing HomepageMark Tooley
Institute on Religion and Democracy



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 endorsed it.

“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 Clinebell.

Drew Theological School in New Jersey – Robert Corrington and Karen McCarthy.

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 Heller.

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 Theology.

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, and pagans.

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 The declaration and its signatories can be found at

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