Institute on Religion and Democracy
The United Methodist General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (COSROW) is hiring a lobbyist to promote its legislation at the General Conference in 2000. Pat Callbeck Harper, a "gender-equity" specialist from Montana, will serve as a contract staffer to COSROW up to and including the General Conference in Cleveland.
Her employment was announced at COSROW's February directors meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas. The hiring of a lobbyist for General Conference by COSROW illustrates how general church agencies, support by general church funds, actively pressure the General Conference to liberalize United Methodism's theological and sexuality positions.
According to Arkansas United Methodist laywoman Carolyn Elias, who attended the COSROW meeting as a reporter for UMAction, legislation from COSROW will likely advocate the acceptance of same-sex unions. One proposal that COSROW is considering equates homosexual "marriage" with the marriage of divorced persons.
"We marry divorced persons," noted Callbeck, "We do not follow menstrual period restrictions. Why not defy Scripture by marrying people of the same gender?" COSROW will determine at its Fall 1999 directors meeting what exact legislation to endorse for General Conference.
COSROW directors considered a resolution offering support to United Methodist clergy who have already performed same-sex unions. Bishop Janice Huie of Arkansas, with several other directors, stopped the resolution by objecting that COSROW's support for breaking church law would be inappropriate.
Directors also considered making COSROW a "reconciling" commission to express support for the full acceptance of homosexuals within the church. But they were concerned about the Judicial Council's ruling of last year prohibiting official church bodies from affiliating with caucus groups. So COSROW will send an observer to the next meeting of the General Commission on Christian Unity to see how that reconciling commission is responding to the Judicial Council's ruling.
The theme of this COSROW meeting was "Making the Church Whole: Awakening Kin-dom Values." The word "kin-dom" is a popular substitute for "kingdom" among radical feminists, who view male names for God as discriminatory. Prayers were addressed to "Mother/Father God," the "God/Christ in you and me," and "God in All persons, blessed unity," in a parody of the Gloria Patri's ode to "God in Three Persons, Blessed Trinity."
In other business, COSROW issued a strong statement criticizing President Clinton's "professional sexual misconduct," and called for both "forgiveness and accountability." COSROW will likely propose legislation to General Conference regarding sexual harassment and sexual misconduct.
UMAction reporter Carolyn Elias observed that there was a prevailing attitude among most participants at the COSROW meeting that the church should accept homosexuality. But COSROW leaders also want to be careful not to undermine COSROW's political influence in the church. Elias expressed appreciation that COSROW staff and directors were unfailingly gracious to her, even though UMAction has called for abolishing COSROW.