by Steven Ertelt
April 15, 2008
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A leading United Methodist Church bishop is coming under heavy criticism for wanting to keep the Protestant denomination as a member of a pro-abortion coalition for religious groups. The UMC has been dogged from pro-life advocates within the denomination for decades.
San Francisco-area United Methodist Bishop Beverly Shamana, the president of the church’s Washington lobby office, is urging UMC officials to keep the group involved in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
The Washington-based RCRC defends unrestricted abortion in the name of its members and actively lobbies against pro-life legislation on Capitol Hill.
The United Methodist Board of Church and Society and the United Methodist Women’s Division both belong to the pro-abortion coalition.
Last year, the North Carolina and Mississippi Conferences, along with the regional bodies representing United Methodists in eastern Tennessee, Southern Indiana, and Northwest Texas passed resolutions calling on the denomination to withdraw its membership in RCRC.
The United Methodist General Conference meets April 23-May 2 and a debate is expected on resolutions from the Methodist groups and others against RCRC involvement.
Mark Tooley, the executive director of the United Methodist Action Committee of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, told LifeNews.com the UMC involvement in the pro-abortion group makes little sense.
"RCRC claims that no unborn child ever deserves legal protection. Why would any ‘religious’ group wish to endorse such an outlandish perspective?" Tooley asked.
"Bishop Shamana claims that ‘God offers the freedom of choice to the human family.’ On what Scripture or Christian tradition do she and other pro-RCRC church officials base their draconian and absolutist claims that no abortion anywhere should ever be restricted?" he added.
"RCRC is not a faith organization," Tooley added. "It is a radical political lobby that advocates limitless abortion on demand. It is funded primarily by left-wing foundations, while borrowing the credibility of mainline churches in order to slap a religious veneer on abortion rights extremism."
In January, another pro-life group, LifeWatch, the unofficial United Methodist pro-life caucus, urged members of the church to ask it to withdraw its membership in RCRC.
LifeWatch sponsored Bishop William Willimon of Birmingham, who delivered a speech at the annual March for Life.
Two years ago, Bishop Timothy Whitaker of Florida made history at the LifeWatch service by publicly criticizing United Methodist pro-abortion rights policies
In 1972, leaders of the United Methodist Church narrowly voted to adopt a position broadly in favor of legal abortion. But there have been several incremental improvements in the years since then.
For instance, in 2000 the denomination adopted a position against most instances of partial-birth abortion.
Related web sites:
LifeWatch – https://www.lifewatch.org