Decision Number 597
Right of the General Conference to Direct a Study of Homosexuality to Be Conducted by the General Council on Ministries, and Funded Within the Budget of That Council.
The conduct of a study on homosexuality by the General Council on Ministries, to be funded within the budget of that Council, as directed by the General Conference, is not in Conflict with 906.12 of the 1984 Discipline.
Statement of Facts
In the plenary session of the General Conference on May 2, 1988, the Conference resolved to direct the General Council on Ministries to:
a) Study homosexuality as a subject for theological and ethical analysis, noting where there is consensus among biblical scholars, theologians, and ethicists and where there is not;
b) Seek the best biological, psychological, and sociological information and opinion on the nature of homosexuality, noting points at which there is a consensus among informed scientists and where there is not;
c) Explore the implications of the study for Social Principles.
During the debate, the Conference was advised that the study would be funded within the budget of the General Council on Ministries.
Following the adoption of the resolution directing the study, the Conference, by a majority vote, petitioned the Judicial Council for a declaratory decision on the question: in the light of 906.12 of the 1984Discipline, will the General Council on Ministries be permitted to carry out the study of homosexuality just authorized by the General Conference?
Par 906.12 provides:
The council [GCFA] shall be responsible for ensuring that no board, agency, committee, commission, or council shall give United Methodist funds to any "gay" caucus or group, or otherwise use such funds to promote the acceptance of homosexuality. The council shall have the right to stop such expenditures.
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under 2615 of the Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
Par. 906.12 of the Discipline denies the use of "United Methodist funds" for two activities: 1) the "gift" of such funds to any "gay caucus or group," and,2) the use of such funds to promote homosexuality.
It is clear that the resolution adopted by the Conference is not in conflict with 906.12 in that it does not fund any "gay" caucus or group or promote the acceptance of homosexuality. See Decision No. 491.
What the resolution does do is to direct a study of homosexuality, utilizing as consultants, "persons well versed in scientific and theological method." The purpose of the study is not to "promote" homosexuality. It is to provide a base of information to assist the Church in resolving the difference of opinion within the church (and within the Conference) regarding the interpretation of homosexuality within the context of the Christian Gospel.
The conduct of a study on homosexuality by the General Council on Ministries, to be funded within the budget of that Council, as directed by the General Conference, is not in conflict with 906.12 of the 1984 Discipline.