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New recommendations for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) would allow congregations to bless homosexual unions and to have noncelibate homosexual ministers. Though the January 13 recommendation acknowledged that the official teaching of the ELCA prohibits homosexual ordinations and marriage, the task force said the church may choose to refrain from disciplining members for violating these prohibitions.

U.S. theologians who are members of the ELCA urged the denomination to reject the recommendations because they threaten the 4.9-million-member church's unity, stability, and "ability to proclaim the truth of the gospel."

Jean Bethke Elshtain of the University of Chicago Divinity School told CT she is worried about the potential divisiveness of policies that appear to be "dictations from 'on high.'"

If the task-force recommendations come to a vote at the Churchwide Assembly, August 8-14 in Orlando, other church members may reject the proposal—as too conservative, according to James Childs, director for the ELCA Studies on Sexuality. "There is a significant number of others we feel are operating in good conscience."

However, Robert Benne, director of the Center for Religion and Society at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia, told CT, "Homosexuality will only be the flashpoint of a deeper conflict over how seriously to take the Bible and Christian tradition."

Related Elsewhere:

The ELCA News Service has an article on the recommendations.

Our full coverage of the Anglican Communion's debate over homosexuality is collected on our website.

More articles on Sexuality & Gender in denominations includes:

Cheated by the Affirming Church | Contrary to what some churches teach, it is homosexuality—and not its suppression—that ...
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In the Magazine

May 2005

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