May 6, 2012
Despite protests and fierce lobbying from gay rights groups, United Methodists voted May 2 to maintain their denomination's stance that homosexual acts are "incompatible with Christian teaching," the Religion News Service reports. Two "agree to disagree" proposals were soundly defeated during separate votes by the nearly 1,000 delegates gathered to the United Methodist Church's General Conference in Tampa, Fla. One proposal would have replaced the "incompatible" phrase in the Book of Discipline, which contains the denomination's laws and doctrines, and both sought to soften the disputed doctrine by adding more ambiguous statements about homosexuality. With nearly 8 million members in the U.S., the UMC remains the country's largest mainline Protestant denomination -- but United Methodism is shrinking in the U.S. and growing in Africa and Asia, shifting the balance of power to overseas conservatives. Nearly 40 percent of the delegates gathered in Tampa live outside the U.S.