MINNEAPOLIS — Leaders of the nation’s largest Lutheran denomination began a civil but tense debate here on Thursday on whether to ordain gay men and lesbians, an issue that is likely to come to a vote on Friday.
The denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, is considering lifting a ban on noncelibate gay and lesbian pastors, permitting the ordination of people in committed same-sex relationships.
At issue is how [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] should inform policy, how the denomination can best serve its mission, and how a vote to ordain gay men and lesbians would affect the church’s relationships with the broader Christian community. Fears of a schism have been fueled by recent turmoil in the Episcopal Church, which voted in July to permit the ordination of openly gay bishops. The issue has cost the Episcopal Church about 100,000 members, who have left to join a new, more conservative entity called the Anglican Church in North America.
Although an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America task force proposed a “structured flexibility” clause that ultimately would leave gay ordination up to each congregation, a sense of division looms. Some delegates here are cloaked in shawls distributed by a Lutheran organization endorsing gay ordination, while others are wearing buttons from an opposing Lutheran organization.
[Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
-John Kenneth Galbraith