Last year traditionalists beat back the takeover attempt by LGBTQ activists of the United Methodist Church (UMC), soundly defeating them 53-47% at their annual conference. The booming congregations in Africa led this triumph over the liberal elites who want to change church doctrine about same-sex marriage and clergy.
But leftists do not quit. They led private negotiations of a separation plan through which the losing liberal side would gain control of the entire church, while the traditionalists would have to depart with a few dollars to try to set up their own.
As the third-largest denomination in the United States, UMC is of importance to everyone. A takeover of it by the left would leave only the Southern Baptists and Catholics as the last major holdouts against the liberal social agenda.
Traditionalist Methodists have awaited the reaction by the growing African church, who were mostly locked out of the negotiations. At an annual conference held on Feb. 16, Liberian Methodists voted unanimously to insist on significant amendments which should sink the bad proposal.
First, the African Methodists require that they be allowed to keep the name and logo which they have been using for decades. Let liberals try to start their own Methodist church with their own new logo, and let’s see how far it gets; the thriving traditionalists should continue using what they have as a logo, with at most small changes to it.
Second, Liberian Methodists seek a fairer distribution of $120 million in church assets. Rather than merely around 20 percent of that going to them and other traditionalists, they should be receiving a much larger distribution.
Some expect that this fiscal condition alone may cause the separation plan to fail. Liberals lack people, but want church dollars beyond their share in order to push their agenda on others.
Third, the Methodists in Liberia oppose the requirement in the separation protocol that a two-thirds super-majority vote is needed before a church leaves, stating “central Conferences of Africa are traditionalists by law and by vote since the birth of the UMC in Africa, and do not therefore need to reaffirm its evangelical/conservative status, as required by the Protocol.”
Liberians added a stern warning to the liberals: “any attempt to align or subjugate all central conferences and their annual conferences and congregations to a post-separation UMC by default, as the Protocol proposes, would be viewed as an act of colonialism and injustice against the Central Conferences.”
Traditionalist Rev. Jerry Kulah is a leader of the Liberia Conference delegation, and he disparages the liberal separation plan as follows: “The protocol as it stands has lots of faults, with a colonial underpinning.”
Historians should note the irony of American Leftists trying to subjugate Africans in Liberia. Prior to the Civil War, some American elites sent free descendants of black slaves back to Africa to start a colony that became Liberia, causing many of these relocated blacks to die; subsequently the Supreme Court held in Dred Scott that blacks have no rights in the United States.
Rev. Kulah is right to oppose the separation plan, and he could go further by objecting to how the African delegations are already being disenfranchised by this process. The estimates of UMC membership in the United States may be inflated, and an updated census of churchgoing membership should reduce the voting power of the liberals seeking to change its church doctrine.
At the upcoming UMC conference in Minneapolis in May, 55.9 percent of the voting delegates will be from the United States despite declining church membership here. Only 32 percent of the voting delegates will be from Africa, despite the ascendance of the church there, given its rapid growth.
Like the African Methodists, church members from Russia, the Philippines and elsewhere also favor traditional doctrine. It is only a shrinking segment of elites within the United States who are insisting on changing Methodist doctrine for millions worldwide.
Meanwhile, the dream that there would be a clean schism into two healthy parts of the UMC, if the separation plan is adopted in May, is vanishing. Some traditionalists resist leaving after the takeover, while others considering departure are unsure where they want to go, particularly when a new worldwide church cannot be adequately funded with only the paltry $25 million offered.
In addition to insisting on continued use of the traditional UMC logo, the liberals seeking to change church doctrine about marriage and clergy are already calling themselves the traditionalists. The takeover group has begun to marginalize those who might leave, by characterizing them as no longer being United Methodists despite their adherence to traditional doctrine.
When the United States was divided over slavery, Abraham Lincoln did not support a schism or separation as the solution. Instead, the side standing with principle achieved unity by prevailing.
Andy Schlafly, Esq., is a teacher, engineer, conservative litigator and founder of Conservapedia. A social conservative, he survived being on the Harvard Law Review with Barack Obama.