A spokesman for a Christian think tank says the commissioning of a "non-binary" transgendered person in the United Methodist Church is only about advancing a political agenda.
The Northern Illinois Conference of the UMC commissioned the first UMC deacon who openly identifies as neither male nor female. The person, who was born a woman, goes by the name "M Barclay."
John Lomperis, United Methodist director for The Institute on Religion & Democracy, says this is an obvious case of someone not genuinely interested in church doctrine or even serving the church.
"This is somebody," he warns, "who is just seeking affirmation from the church and seeing the church as a vehicle that she can really hijack to advance her own political agenda."
He points out this person became a lesbian activist who worked with a homosexual activist group affiliated with the UMC. Yet that person now claims to be gender neutral, preferring the pronoun "they" over "she."
"Pour out your Holy Spirit upon M," a church bishop said as "M" was commissioned June 4, The Washington Postreported. "Send them now to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ."
"Until very recently it was just pretty universally recognized by psychologists and psychiatrists that gender identity disorder was a mental disorder," says Lomperis. "And we want to be very compassionate for somebody that is suffering from severe mental health issues."
But if someone is suffering from a severe mental health delusion, "that's generally not a good person to put into a position of spiritual leadership," he adds.
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The region in the United Methodist Church that appointed as bishop a woman who is married to another woman is facing "unprecedented financial challenges."
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