The United Methodist Church, America's second-largest Protestant denomination, faces a likely surge in defections and acts of defiance after delegates at a crucial conference voted Tuesday to strengthen the faith's divisive bans on same-sex marriage and ordination of LGBT clergy. Emotions were high throughout the third and final day of the UMC's meeting. Some supporters of greater LGBT inclusion were in tears, while others vented their anger when, midway through the session, delegates defeated a proposal that would have let regional and local church bodies decide for themselves on gay-friendly policies, the AP reports. "Devastation," was how former Methodist pastor Rebecca Wilson of Detroit described her feelings. "As someone who left because I'm gay, I'm waiting for the church I love to stop bringing more hate."
After several more hours of debate, the conservatives' proposal, called the Traditional Plan, was approved by a vote of 438-384. Opponents unsuccessfully sought to weaken the plan with hostile amendments or to prolong the debate past a mandatory adjournment time. The Traditional Plan's success was due to an alliance of conservatives from the US and overseas. About 43% of the delegates were from abroad, mostly from Africa, and overwhelmingly supported the LGBT bans. While other mainline Protestant denomination churches have embraced gay-friendly practices, the Methodist church still bans them, though acts of defiance by pro-LGBT clergy have multiplied. The Traditional Plan aspires to beef up discipline against those engaged in defiance.
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