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By Mark Tooley

This morning at about 10 am the United Methodist General Conference defeated a motion from Kansas minister Adam Hamilton to acknowledge that United Methodists disagree on homosexuality. The motion, co-originated with Ohio minister Mike Slaughter, was defeated by about 53 percent to 47 percent.

Nearly 30 percent of delegates are from Africa, where United Methodism is solidly conservative theologically. Nearly 10 percent come from elsewhere overseas, mostly Europe and the Philippines. Of the 60 percent of delegates who are from the U.S., about one-third are believed to be evangelical. The vote revealed a majority coalition of Africans, U.S. evangelicals, and some other overseas delegates.

The Adam Hamilton motion was considered the strongest attempt to dilute the United Methodist Church’s current stance that homosexual practice is “incompatible with Christian teaching.” The church prohibits same-sex unions and precludes actively homosexual clergy, expecting all clergy to be celibate if single and monogamous if in a marriage between man and woman. Legislative committees last week recommended retaining these current stances.

Almost certainly, after the defeat of Hamilton’s motion, the full General Conference will reaffirm its current teachings on marriage, sexual ethics and homosexuality. The growth of United Methodism in Africa, where there are now over 4 million church members, has helped to ensure that the denomination has not followed other U.S. denominations in liberalizing their sexual standards.