Methodist court says pastors may bar gays from membership

No automatic right to membership
An openly gay United Methodist minister lost her bid to return to the pulpit when the denomination’s highest court upheld her conviction on charges of being a “self-avowed practicing” lesbian.

But a separate decision could have even wider implications. The church’s Judicial Council said gays and lesbians have no automatic right to church membership and upheld the power of local pastors to turn them away.

The twin rulings, announced October 31, represent a major setback for those who seek greater inclusion of homosexuals in the nation’s second-largest Protestant denomination, and they served to reinforce church policy on homosexuality.


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