Dr. Holsinger's Murky Methodism
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Jun 07, 2007 at 09:23:25 PM EST
George Bush's nominee for Surgeon General is already drawing a lot of heat for among other things, his crack-pot anti-gay views. Less likely to be widely reported is Dr. James Holsinger's longtime involvement in and leadership of the Confessing Movement in the United Methodist Church. The Confessing Movement is a rightwing "renewal group" affiliated with the Washington, DC-based Institute on Religion and Democracy, IRD.

(The nomination of the divisive Dr. Holsinger is a good moment to recall that Talk to Action's Steven D. Martin has a new documentary film out: Renewal or Ruin: The Institute on Religion and Democracy's Attack on the United Methodist Church.)

But as the crackpottery of Holsinger gains national attention, it will be worth considering that he also epitomizes the leadership of the IRD affiliates in the UMC and their effort to drive wedges in the nation's second largest protestant denomination.

The independent Methodist online news site Nexus has the scoop on the Holsinger's IRD connection:

In The United Methodist Church, Holsinger rose to national prominence through his membership on the 1989-92 churchwide Committee to Study Homosexuality. He resigned from the committee shortly before the 1992 General Conference in Louisville, KY, because he said the committee's report was "skewed toward liberal interpretations" of homosexual orientation and behavior. At the time, Holsinger declined the committee's invitation to be included in a minority report on the subject.

Since that time, Holsinger has consistently supported forces in the denomination opposed to the acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. He has served previously on the board of the Indianapolis-based Confessing Movement within The United Methodist Church, a 15-year-old unofficial organization dedicated to "preserving the apostolic faith", according to a statement on its web site. Current Confessing Movement board members include Asbury Seminary chancellor Dr. Maxie Dunnam and layman David W. Stanley, also a director of the Institute on Religion and Democracy.

Holsinger was elected to the Judicial Council at the 2000 General Conference in Cleveland, OH. He was nominated from the floor along with Judicial Council members Mary A. Daffin, an attorney from Houston, TX, and Rev. Keith D. Boyette of Spotsylvania, VA, in one of the most successful political campaigns launched by the combined forces of the Confessing Movement and the Good News caucus.

During Holsinger's term on the Judicial Council, the church's "supreme court" has ruled consistently against acceptance of homosexual people. In 2005, the council upheld the defrocking of Rev. Beth Stroud, a lesbian, affirming the church's prohibition against ordaining GLBT people. Also that year, the Judicial Council set off a wave of debate in the church by siding with a Virginia pastor who refused membership to an openly gay man in Decision 1032. Several annual conferences this year have adopted resolutions challenging the views expressed in Decision 1032.

And this nomination is all over the Daily Kos.


America's top doctor should be a doctor for all Americans, and so I have serious reservations about nominating someone who would inject his own anti-gay ideology into critical decisions about the health and well-being of our nation."

"As with other nominees, I will listen to the testimony of Dr. James Holsinger, but this Administration must know that the United States Surgeon General's office is no place for bigotry or ideology that would trump sound science and good judgment,"

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri Jun 08, 2007 at 01:09:06 AM EST

addressing his promulgation of inaccurate and unscientific information on gay and straight sex, in a piece written for the Methodist controversy circa 1992. This is a lapse in professionalism, in my opinion, given the knowledge available to M.D.s at that time.

His participation in an ex-gay ministry, IF the ministry promises a goal of heterosexuality and not of celibacy, is also a sign of poor professional behavior, given the widespread opinion in the field that there is no evidence that ex-gay ministries actually convert people to heterosexuality. (If the goal is celibacy for religious reasons, that goal is outside the scope of medical knowledge and practice, so not pertinent to evaluation of Dr. H's professionalism.)

by NancyP on Fri Jun 08, 2007 at 02:39:35 PM EST

confirmation hearings?
This ought to be good.

by nogodsnomasters on Fri Jun 08, 2007 at 07:03:21 PM EST

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