Some Iowans may have an eye to the east as the United Methodist Church General Conference convenes in Pittsburgh Tuesday. Twila Glenn is an Iowa delegate to the conference which helps decide policy for the church. Glenn says two issues that’re in the secular spotlight will carry over to the religious discussion. One is homosexuality. She says the issue of homosexuality in the context of the way in which they talk about it in the church has to do with the various approaches to what they would call the authority of the scripture. In other words, the way in which you read the bible and what you believe it is saying. Glenn says the petitions she’s seen cover both sides, including those against homosexuality.She says those if adopted would tighten the church’s stand against homosexuality and condemnation of same-sex marriages. She says there are also petitions that would completely liberalize those stands, and petitions that say they can’t agree so they should quit fighting about it. Glenn says it’s been an issue that’s created a lot of discussion among the 200-thousand Iowa Methodists, and she expects the same at the national conference. She says this is going to be a very difficult issue to discuss. She says it’s “going to cause a lot of pain among a lot of people on all sides of this issue.” Glenn says she has no idea how the discussions will come out. Glenn says the discussion over the war in Iraq also has lots of petitions from both sides. She says the United Methodist Church has generally been a church that believes in what’s called “Just War.”She says that’s a theological description of what makes it acceptable to go to war. Situations where a large number of people are under attack or being annihilated — like the Holocaust. Glenn says the church has not had opposition to preemptive attacks, and that’s one thing that will be addressed. She says there are some petitions that would specifically say that the United Methodist Church is against preemptive attacks. She says there are also petitions that would broaden the definition of when it’s acceptable for the U.S. to go to war, which she says could be interpreted as expanding the definition to include the war in Iraq. Glenn will be at the conference the next two weeks.
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