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LGBT PopWrapped | LGBT

Methodist Pastor Defrocked For Officiating His Own Son's Same-Sex Wedding

PopWrapped | PopWrapped Author


12/20/2013 7:24 pm
PopWrapped | LGBT
Methodist Pastor Defrocked For Officiating His Own Son's Same-Sex Wedding
Media Courtesy of the Associated Press

Dani Strehle

Content Editor

These past few days have not been kind to the LGBTQ community. What with the vile remarks of Duck Dynasty’s Phil Roberston, and the termination of a Seattle catholic school principle due to his same sex marriage; it almost feels that we as a nation have taken several giant steps backward. The most recent instance on this dismally long list of intolerance comes in the form of the defrocking of a Methodist pastor. A pastor who, unlike so many other religious zealots, believes in tolerance and the freedom to love whomever we choose; including his son. The United Methodist church in Pennsylvania stripped Frank Schaefer of his title by stating that he had violated doctrine by officiating his own son’s marriage to another man; an event that Schaefer calls an “act of love.” Schaefer wasted no time in appealing the decision, stating that he feels many board members were coerced into making this decision unwillingly. Schaefer explained that, "So many of them came to me and they shook my hand and some hugged me, and so many of them had tears in their eyes. They said, 'We really don't want to do this, you know that, don't you?'" When reporters attempted to contact said board members, they were filibustered; but they did squeak out a short comment from a spokesman of the denomination in Philadelphia, John Coleman: "When asked to surrender his credentials as required by the verdict, he refused to do so. Therefore, because of his decision, the board was compelled by the jury's decision to deem his credentials surrendered." Schaefer has been not only an upstanding citizen, but the leader of the United Methodist Church for over a decade. And, due to the intolerance of one single person, he has been stripped of that title. He was reported by a member of his congregation for residing over the marriage of his gay son in 2007. So, not only did one of the members of this church show cowardice in going behind Shaefer’s back and essentially tattling on him; they did it five years after the “offense” took place. Technically, the Methodist church welcomes homosexuals into their fold, gay and lesbian members will not be denied membership to the denomination. However, it does follow the religious doctrine on the subject of homosexuality, which states that it is “incompatible with Christian teaching,” and prohibits any members of the clergy from sanctioning, and performing, same-sex marriages. Schaefer was suspended last month, pending the jury’s decision. He was instructed to make a decision on whether or not he would adhere to the church’s doctrine and Book of Discipline. He was then told that if could not follow the rules of their faith, it would be prudent for him to resign. A move he was unwilling to make; stating that he refused to adhere to discriminatory and contradictory language. And when he refused to hand over his credentials, the president of the board informed him that they would be forcibly taken. In a beautiful twist of irony, Schaefer was defrocked on the same day that the notoriously conservative state of New Mexico deemed the State’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional. And Schaefer is not alone in his stance of acceptance. Despite the fact that, at the last national Methodist conference in 2012, the decision was made to stick with the church’s 40-year-old doctrine, more and more parishioners are leaning toward the idea and practice of equality. In fact, hundreds of Methodist clergymen have outspokenly rejected the denomination’s stance on same-sex matters; and many are even facing similar sanctions as Schaefer as they have flat out ignored mandates and have officiated same-sex marriages. One of the most wonderful examples comes in a retired Methodist bishop boldly challenging the rules of the church and marrying two Alabama men. Schaefer is reasonably shocked by the turn of events, stating that, “I said to myself, 'You know, I just can't see them taking my credentials.' I mean, what I did was an act of love for my son. And they did anyhow," he stated. The fate of Schaefer remains to be seen. But his attitude is admirable, and his dedication as a father is something all parents, and people, should strive for. Stay tuned to PopWrapped as this story continues to unfold.


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