The gays and lesbians in America's churches just can't catch any breaks. A Washington Post story this morning reports that on Monday, the Methodist Church's highest court not only defrocked the Rev. Irene "Beth" Stroud, a lesbian minister in Philadelphia, but also cleared and reinstated the Rev. Edward Johnson, a Virginia pastor who was suspended from the church after forbidding a gay man to join his congregation.
Reading the Post piece, it becomes clear that Stroud and Johnson have vastly different, though illuminating, opinions about the church. Says Stroud: "It's going to take me some time to recover [the] sense of spiritual groundedness that I value in my life. But I don't feel misled. I think that God calls us to various ministries and gives us the gifts to carry them out."
Johnson could not be reached for comment. But the Rev. Tom Thomas, who acted as Johnson's legal advisor during his suspension, tells the Post that Johnson felt that by turning away gay parishioners, he was simply following guidelines set by the church -- in which "the first vow of membership ... is, 'Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin?'"
Ah. There really is nothing like Christian tolerance.