DOES HILLARY HAVE A METHODIST PROBLEM? Senator Hillary Clinton is a Methodist, and by all accounts a serious one. Whatever its origins, Methodism these days is seen as a liberal mainline denomination. I'm no expert, but in my own mind I would place it just ever so slightly to the right of Congregationalism.
Now the United Methodist Church has defrocked the Reverend Beth Stroud for coming out as a lesbian involved in an ongoing relationship. Will this have political implications? Doesn't everything?
Clinton is routinely described as the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. This is lazy punditry; if you think about her political shortcomings and her own public statements, it's more likely than not that she'll never run for president. Still, it's certainly a possibility, and there's no doubt that some elements of the party want her to run.
Well, now Clinton may find herself in a difficult position with her own church. If she supports church leaders, she risks alienating gay and lesbian voters. If she supports Stroud, she risks alienating cultural moderates. In other words, she's in pretty much the same position that John Kerry was with respect to his Catholicism and his nuanced stand on same-sex marriage.
I found myself genuinely surprised by the Methodists' actions, and realized I know even less about them than I'd assumed. Coming as this did during a week when the United Church of Christ (i.e., the Congregationalists and a few related denominations) are getting all sorts of attention because CBS and NBC won't run its pro-gay ad, it seems that perhaps the hopes of building a significant liberal religious movement are rather slim.
Then again, George W. Bush is a Methodist, isn't he?
THE GREAT GROVER CLEVELAND. Must reading today on our 22nd and 24th president from the Daily Howler. If you're scratching your heads, rest assured that this is mostly about Fox News's utterly clueless Chris Wallace.
STEROIDS DON'T WORK. How else do you explain Jeremy Giambi?