Petition 81453

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United Methodism and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (81453-C2-R9999)

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WHEREAS, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) is dedicated to
defending and expanding abortion rights—that is, legal rights to all abortions, whatever the circumstances, without exception—in American law;
  
WHEREAS, “RCRC was founded in 1973 to safeguard the newly won constitutional right to abortion,” according to The Reverend Carlton W. Veazey, RCRC president and CEO (www.rcrc.org/ <http://www.rcrc.org/> about/index.cfm, 12/10/06);
  
WHEREAS, RCRC’s founding mission remains intact: “The primary struggle for reproductive choice has shifted to the state level, with new legislation limiting access to reproductive health care traveling from state to state until enough momentum develops
to bring it to the national arena. In such a climate, we need healthy state [RCRC] organizations so that we can stop each new threat as it arises” (www.rcrc <http://www.rcrc>. org/getinvolved/affiliate.cfm, 12/10/06);
  
WHEREAS, RCRC works for abortion rights in any and all circumstances, while The United Methodist Church teaches that moral discernment, on matters related to abortion, is essential; for the church “[believes] in the sanctity of unborn human life,” “cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control,” and “unconditionally reject[s]
[abortion] as a means of gender selection” (The Book of Discipline [2004], Paragraph 161J);
  
WHEREAS, the UMC should continue promotion of HIV/AIDS education, sexuality education, quality health and child care, and clergy counseling training programs as mentioned in ¶114, but should do so apart from the RCRC.  For example, “the ’respectable’ end of the porn business has made a point of hiring lobbyists, participating in charity, and campaigning for condoms against AIDS,” but this does not mean the UMC should support the Pornography Industry in order to advance AIDS prevention.  
  (“Pornography, Main Street to Wall Street,” Holman W. Jenkins, Policy Review, Hoover Institution);
  
WHEREAS, other “mainline” denominations with similar positions on abortion to that of the United Methodist Church have either never chosen to be members of RCRC (e.g., the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Disciples of Christ), or have severed past ties with RCRC (American Baptist Churches USA and the Northern Province of the Moravian Church);
  
WHEREAS, the RCRC’s stance on the non-abortion issue of homosexuality is contrary to the Social Principles as exposed in Rev. Karen Booth’s  “UM Judicial Council Brief on the Pro-Homosexuality Advocacy of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice;”
One part of the RCRC-produced article, "The Really Good News: What the Bible Says About Sex", argues at length that "[i]t is, at best, inaccurate to use scripture to condemn committed, consensual same-gender sexual relationships."  The article also asserts: "In contrast to its position on same gender sex, the Bible clearly condemns adultery."  This amounts to saying that the Bible has no clear position on "same gender sex."  The title of this document attaches qualitative value to such assertions, suggesting that biblical teaching not truly being opposed to "same gender sex" would amount to "Really Good News."    
        By contrast, the United Methodist Social Principles clearly declare that "the practice of homosexuality" is "incompatible with Christian teaching" (¶161G).  Furthermore, the Social Principles declare that "sexual relations are only clearly affirmed in the marriage bond" (¶161G) and that marriage is to be understood as a covenant "between a man and a woman" (¶161C).  UM  Judicial Council Brief on the Pro-Homosexuality Advocacy of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

WHEREAS, RCRC consistently lobbies government for the preservation of partial-birth abortion rights, while The United Methodist Church “oppose[s] the use of late-term abortion known as dilation and extraction (partial-birth abortion) and call[s] for the
end of this practice” with rare exceptions (Paragraph 161J);
  
WHEREAS, United Methodists hold various political positions on abortion, and therefore
agencies of The United Methodist Church should not be permitted to join a particular political lobby on abortion, such as RCRC;  
  
WHEREAS, Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker, of the Florida Area, has declared: “At the 2004 General Conference, the church endorsed our [United Methodist] agencies’ continued participation in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice without much of a debate about how participation in this coalition compromises our public witness against abortion” (“Do No Harm!,” a sermon); and
  
WHEREAS, The 2007 Mississippi Annual Conference overwhelmingly approved  a resolution, using the entire rationale stated above,  to delete “114.  Support for the
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice” from The Book Of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church (2004).    

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the 2008 General Conference of The United Methodist Church goes on the record as declaring that the mission and goals of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice are incompatible with United Methodist teachings.