Friday, December 03, 2004

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?


Anonymous said...

I don't know who is more pathetic, those who are afraid Hillary will run or those afraid she won't. It would be like the Iran/Iraq War, where we wanted BOTH sides to lose...

Anonymous said...

Mr. Kennedy,

The only thing troubling about this story is how YOU continue to project your own beliefs into a narrative about gay marriage that is in direct conflict with the majority of living human beings. See, we don't agree with you and by proxy DO agree with this decision. HELLO!! Granted we can't all be as enlightened as you are (with your self righteous swarmy secular humanistic swagger) but we'll figure out a way to carry on in our ignorance. Must be fun being a megalomaniac.

Anonymous said...

STEROIDS DON'T WORK. How else do you explain Jeremy Giambi?

LOL. Thanks Dan.

Hillary - The democratic party needs another lightning rod "Northeast Liberal Senator" candidate like the proverbial millstone or albatross around the neck. Hillary can do more good as a Senator-for-Life like Ted K (and perhaps John Kerry, now that he's gotten the itch scratched once?). While the activist Dems may want liberal standard bearers, they need a red-state centrist to win the White House. FDR may be the only true Liberal to win that office in living memory.

Marriage, Personal Conviction, Religion - Regarding the commentor suggesting Dan keep his opinions out of this due to majority against him -- (1) Dan is acting as an editorialist here and in his print columns: his informed and cultured opinion well phrased is what he's paid to share. It's good reading whether you agree or not. I don't bother to read most folks I agree or disagree with, since most are uninformed, uninformative, and dull. I wonder if the commentor thinks about what he reads or is merely trolling for blogs to add agitprop comments upon? (2) It takes courage to have an opinion opposite the majority. (3) Leadership is when you try to help the majority see differently, not telling them what they want to hear. The analogy of "you can't lead from the rear" is outdated in the military, but is quite true in matters of moral leadership. (4) Why do so many hate love? In the name of (any of several) religion(s) based on love and peace and fellowship, we should practice hate?

Re electoral effects: *Any* religious affiliation will be a problem on this issue today. (Of course, in Red states, lack of religious affiliation would be worse.)George H.W.'s Episcopalianism is suffering the same debate, which threatens a schism between the liberal churches of UK/US and the conservative churches of Africa, as well as microschisms of a few conservative parishes again hiving off the US and UK churches. A candidate espousing a more liberal faith (e.g., Congregational/UCC and UU) that is firmly for gay rights will have an even greater problem with the Red State voters than someone from a divided faith, who could mumble pious things about separation of church and state as an excuse for keeping their church dealings out of the campaign.

As regards Methodism, I believe the UMC is a "large tent" denomination that united all the multiple strands, high church and informal, northern and southern, etc, back into one polity. Apparently this is an issue in which the hierarchy is not as socially liberal as they are wrto more traditional "liberal faith" social justice issues, but some parishes are ahead of the hierarchy, often an uncomfortable position in hierarchical sects.

-- Bill R

Anonymous said...

Not that I disagree about Chris Wallace but how come he only became a dope upon joining Fox? That non-existent "progressive" agenda appears to be washing over me again....