The self-described "radical sexual liberationist" group, Love Prevails, has been criticized by traditionalists and treated as a fringe group over its use of extreme tactics to disrupt meetings and for its "unhinged" rhetoric.
Intimidation had its way for a time …
Even though UMC leaders have recently stood against letting LGBTQ activists have their way, they previously felt they had to "go out of their way" to cater to Love Prevails – even when the group stood in direct opposition to much of the denomination.
"Facing a prolonged, illegal protest, leading bishops – as well as the Agenda Committee appointed by the Council of Bishops – chose to meekly submit to Love Prevails’ multi-point ultimatum, including heavy-handedly prevented duly elected delegates to the 2012 General Conference from even being allowed to vote on key reform petitions prioritized by traditionalists," Juicy Ecumenism’s John Lomperis recounted.
"In 2014, prominent bishops and other leaders of the Connectional Table (CT) chose to reward Love Prevails’ disruptions by rearranging their meeting agenda and formally committing to liberalizing the denomination’s sexual morality standards."
The partiality to LGBTQ activism in the UMC was seen through the former CT chair, Bishop Bruce Ough, who went out of his way to publicly thank Love Prevails for disrupting a previous CT meeting, while evangelical observers at such gatherings were treated with anything but appreciation.
Formal partnerships between Love Prevails and other leftist caucuses – such as Reconciling Ministries Network and the Methodist Federation for Social Action – were made in 2016 and 2017, when the "Love Your Neighbor Coalition" was formed to displace biblical standards with the LGBTQ agenda.
"The three-pronged approach of Love Prevails had been to encourage activist clergy to publicly ‘disclose’ their violations of our denomination’s longstanding ban on same-sex weddings, ‘disrupt’ meetings, and ‘divest’ even their prayers from parts of the UMC they judged to be insufficiently LGBTQ-affirming," Lomperis informed.
But after not being able to push its unbiblical sexuality freely through the church, the LGBTQ activist group is urging its supporters to leave the UMC, conceding that it "failed to effect positive change."
Admitting defeat … time to depart
"Love Prevails has come to the painful conclusion that the UMC’s leadership and methods are so corrupt that we must replace ‘Disclose, Divest and Disrupt’ with one final word … ‘Depart,’" the activist leaders wrote in their break-up letter. "We cannot counsel anyone of good conscience to remain in this denomination."
The LGBTQ radicals then equated adherence to biblical sexuality – and not promoting sexual sin – with inciting and inflicting violence, and even genocide, on the LGBTQ community.
"[Love Prevails condemns the UMC as] complicit in the suicides, beatings and murders of Queer persons [and liberal denominational leaders as] a fearful lot, content with closets and unholy concessions," the letter continues. "[We decry the UMC’s] tinker[ing] with plans that allowed just the right amount of discrimination to still be palatable to average United Methodists, [which for Love Prevails], visibly illuminates the moral bankruptcy of this denomination, [whose leading liberal bureaucrats are] satisfied to sacrifice some of its most vulnerable members in the most hostile places."
Love Prevails was particularly upset about a number of policies that might not cater to unbiblical behavior that was allowed in the past – which could pose future challenges for the liberal post-separation UMC (psUMC).
"Some liberal bishops and others are spreading rhetoric about how traditionalist congregations might be allowed to refuse to host same-sex weddings or receive non-celibate gay pastors, and how African conferences could maintain the Traditional Plan," Lomperis explained.
"But seemingly more mainstream or ‘centrist’ liberal United Methodist leaders have made clear that they, too, see ‘heterosexism’ – which would certainly include any congregation refusing to celebrate same-sex weddings, not welcoming non-celibate gay pastors, or teaching that homosexual practice is sinful – as inherently evil, like misogyny, racism or xenophobia."
The LGBTQ activist leaders attempted to take a moral high ground in the letter conceding their defeat. Lomperis, however, says he remains skeptical their movement will serve any purpose other than as "a tool to misleadingly claim a 'centrist' label for themselves."