Photo Courtesy of Mary Ann Kaiser/UMNS
Mary Ann KaiserMary Ann Kaiser
Nearly 40 percent of United Methodist Insight readers who responded to a recent survey say they think the Southwest Texas Annual Conference should have taken a defiant stance and approved the deacon candidacy of self-acknowledged lesbian Mary Ann Kaiser.
In response to the first question about readers' reactions to Ms. Kaiser's candidacy being revoked without a hearing, 39.9 percent of the 33 respondents said they thought the Southwest Texas Conference Board of Ordained Ministry should have taken a stand against The United Methodist Church's ban on the ordination of practicing LGBT people.
Some 27 percent said they thought Ms. Kaiser deserved a hearing before her candidacy was summarily revoked, while another 33 percent said they thought Southwest Texas followed the Book of Discipline appropriately.
More than half of the respondents -- 56 percent -- said they thought the endorsements of Ms. Kaiser's charge conference and her District Board of Ordained Ministry should have been considered by the conference board in deciding her candidacy. However, the second largest group of people -- 31 percent -- said that the endorsements of charge and district don't matter to the ordination process; only the annual conference decides.
Respondents' views on the UMC's stance which holds homosexual practice to be "incompatible with Christian teaching" came down heavily against the prohibition. Respondents were permitted multiple choices on the question, with 51.6 percent choosing two responses:
- It violates the Bible's overarching theme of God's love and justice.
- It sanctions social injustice and violence against LGBTQ people.
A third of respondents to this question chose the option: "It's the right thing to do, following tradition and strict interpretation of Scripture." Six percent said the UMC's stance against homosexual practice upholds sexual purity, while another 9 percent offered "other" responses. These included:
"My own opinion is that it's outdated, but the UMC is a collective body under the authority of the General Conference. Those who wish to stay in the UMC have to live with ideas that they don't like."
"We are deeply divided on the subject, as we know. Whatever one's personal opinion, the Book of Discipline governs our decisions."
"It is ultimately evil."
When asked what their personal reaction would be if The United Methodist Church removed its condemnation of homosexual practice and corresponding ban on ordination, nearly two-thirds of the respondents -- 62 percent -- said they would "rejoice" at the action. Nearly 16 percent said they would leave the church, while almost 22 percent offered "other" responses most of which said they would stay in the church for various reasons.
The UM Insight survey was a self-selected "straw poll" of readers' immediate reactions to a news event. Its results therefore are not representative of the views of the entire denomination.