It was just so ironic. At the summit called to address why the Seventh-day Adventist church is losing one-third of its members out the back door, the one presenter who is known to be gay was disinvited at the last minute. And while he was told he was welcome to attend, he could not present his paper which had nothing whatsoever to do with homosexuality. It was not because he is gay that he could not present, he was assured, but “because of the views you have publicly espoused on this subject."
"I was not aware of them until I received a call from the president” session organizer David Trim told sociologist Ron Lawson.
So, Lawson’s paper that compared data about Seventh-day Adventists, Mormons, and Jehovah Witnesses and their growth in Mexico was literally taken off the program, and a new program was printed. Unfortunately, the new program didnot arrive until after the first program had been distributed, so there was an announcement made mid-morning on the first day that new up-to-date program were available and one could trade in their old program for a new one. Conference planners said there was another change because of presenters from Africa who were not able to obtain visas and cancelled.
At the session just before Lawson was to have presented, Anthony Kent lamented the finding from the Global Survey of Seventh-day Adventists that some form of conflict was at the basis of 7 out of the 19 issues that people listed for leaving. “We need to be trained on how to put our differences aside,” he said. Kent is an associate secretary of the GC Ministerial Association. Looking on the brighter side, he noted that 76% of the respondents to the GC Study “Why They Leave? Why They Might Come Back” had said they would be open to reconnecting with the church. Although 19% did say it depended on the approach.
Later in the day, the subject of homosexuality was openly discussed briefly when Southern Adventist University was presenting the phase two findings of its study “The Twenty-First Century Seventh-day Adventist Connection Study.” One of the things they discovered was that 84% of students would accept non-practicing homosexuals as church members and 63% would accept them as church leaders.
The percentage dropped some for practicing homosexuals, but still 49% would accept them as members also, and 21% would accept them as church leaders. All but the last of these numbers were even higher than those who would accept co-habiting couples. That only got 31% approval rating from the survey done of Adventist university students in North America. Mia Lindsey, a student from Southern Adventist University, told the summit audience that young people are asking what are you going to do about gay members? "We have friends who are gay, but they are not being treated fairly.”
Oh, yes the irony of it all. Lawson did attend the session. His presentation is available here.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/5653