Today's Indianapolis Star has an article by Robert King (the religion beat reporter) that focuses in on State Senator Patricia Miller (R - Indianapolis). The article specifically focuses in on the role Miller's religion plays in her voting record in the Indiana Senate - especially her role as the leader of a fundamentalist sect of the Methodists known as the "Confessing Movement." Miller, as you no doubt recall, is the religious extremist who tried to introduce the "Authorized Reproduction" bill that would have outlawed artificial insemination for gays and lesbians. She also was a force behind the Methodist Church's recent decision to defrock a lesbian minister.
Pat Miller gets more play
United Methodists have been plagued by disagreements over homosexuality for decades. But last year, at the church's quadrennial General Conference, one of the leaders of the Confessing Movement called for a split.
The bid failed, as delegates voted overwhelmingly to remain unified. Miller said a schism was never the Confessing Movement's goal. Yet, while she says she hopes the church can remain united, she also believes that can happen only if its members fully accept the church's doctrine.
The United Methodist "Book of Discipline" says "all persons are of sacred worth" but that homosexuality is "incompatible with Christian teaching" and that practicing homosexuals may not be ministers or serve in the church.
Miller says it is wrong to define the Confessing Movement by its stance on homosexuality. Instead, she says those who chose to stray from the church's teaching forced the fight over homosexuality upon the movement.
William J. Abraham, a professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said the Confessing Movement seems radical to some only because the church has veered so far from its orthodox roots. Miller, he says, has not been seen as a "barnburner" within the denomination but as an "intelligent but serious voice."
Not everyone agrees.
The Rev. Kent Millard, senior pastor at St. Luke's United Methodist Church on the Far Northside, said the Confessing Movement has been a divisive influence on the church.
He said its followers tend to view their interpretation of Scripture as the only correct reading of the Bible. Their strict stance on homosexuality, he said, doesn't adequately emphasize the "sacred worth" of gays.