Oklahoma Drops Evolution Qualifier

Oklahoma's State Textbook Committee had no authority to add disclaimers to biology textbooks describing evolution as a "controversial theory," the state's attorney general ruled in February. The committee's decision last November followed the Kansas State Board of Education's decision to remove evolution from state tests (CT, Nov. 15, 1999, p. 26).

Methodists Dismiss Gay-Union Charges

A committee of the California-Nevada Annual Conference dismissed complaints in February against 68 United Methodist Church (UMC) clergy who performed a same-sex union for two women in January 1999 (CT, March 1, 1999, p. 17). Although acknowledging the decision appears to violate the church's Book of Discipline, Bishop Melvin Talbert says the committee's decision "does reflect the longstanding covenant commitments for inclusiveness and justice" of the conference.

Dropping the charges has already prompted an exodus of some churches from the conference, says Greg Smith, a UMC pastor in Sacramento and representative of Evangelical Renewal Fellowship, an alliance of congregations in the conference that oppose same-sex unions.

In a related development, UMC renewal leaders from Good News, the Institute on Religion and Democracy, and the Confessing Movement have formed the Coalition for United Methodist Accountability in response to "increasing disobedience to church doctrine and standards."

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