Major United Methodist Gay Lobby Group Accused of Endorsing Polyamory

Protesters for greater inclusivity in The United Methodist Church stand in silent vigil just outside the bar of the denomination's 2012 General Conference on May 3, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. | (Photo: UMNS/Mike DuBose)

A LGBT activist group that seeks to change the United Methodist Church's official position on homosexuality has been accused of endorsing polyamory.

Reconciling Ministries Network, a pro-gay Methodist group, recently posted an article on its website that appeared to endorse polyamorous relationships.

Authored by the Rev. Dave Barnhart, the recent blog entry sought to argue against claims of slippery slope if gay marriage were legalized and embraced by the church.

"A fallacy is a misleading argument. A fallacy may sound reasonable or even convincing, but it's based on flawed logic," writes Barnhart.

"The 'slippery slope' fallacy says that one action or claim will lead to a series of others that creates an undesirable result. In this case, if legal marriage rights are granted to gay and lesbian persons, people will soon be marrying their mops."

However, as at least one critic noted, within the text Barnhart also refused to condemn non-monogamous relationships.

"I am not, by the way, ruling out multiple-partner marriages, but illustrating one way to think about it," wrote Barnhart.

Later, after writing that "we can make reasonable arguments for monogamous exclusivity," Barnhart immediately added "this does not rule out the possibility of other marriage arrangements."

John Lomperis is the director of the United Methodist Action program of the Institute on Religion and Democracy.

John Lomperis of the conservative Institute on Religion & Democracy pounced on Barnhart's blog entry, arguing that Barnhart tried "to walk a fine line between strategically appealing to the sort of 'respectable moderates' turned off by lewd 'pride' parades while also avoiding calling its own community to too-firm moral boundaries of sexual self-control."

"I guess RMN is willing to present 'one way to think about this' that would support the ideal of monogamy, but also wants to make clear that RMN is totally cool with non-monogamous relationships if that floats your boat," wrote Lomperis.

In an interview with The Christian Post, Lomperis argued that the recent blog entry was "nothing new for this RMN group."

"They have long promoted an ethos that can be fairly summarized as 'anything goes, as long as it's consensual'," said Lomperis.

A noted advocacy group for having the UMC recognize and celebrate homosexual unions, Reconciling Ministries has been accused of celebrating polyamory in the past.

For example, in September 2013 the group held a major event in Maryland known as Churchquake. Among the workshops at the event there was a workshop held on polyamory.

"I engaged in workshop polyamory, and decided it was time to spend time with the queer sexual ethics workshop because it was pushing the edges of my comfort. So that's what I did," noted one attendee on a blog sympathetic to Reconciling Ministries.

"And I'm not going to go seek out poly relationships for myself any time soon (or ever, I imagine), but I learned a lot about new perspectives to me and I think I can be a better ally because of it."

Years earlier in an interview posted on the blog The Zeray Gazette, then Reconciling Ministries director the Rev. Troy Plummer denounced the polyamory allegation.

"RMN affirms fidelity in covenant relationships. RMN's gay marriage resource assumes monogamy and faithfulness," said Plummer back in 2005.

"RMN does not advocate for polyamory. One forum at [the 2005 RMN event] Hearts on Fire addressed the current issues surrounding civil marriage equality."

When asked by CP about these statements, Lomperis of the IRD responded that "RMN's actual record speaks for itself."

Lomperis directed CP to a 1998 publication when the organization, then called the "Reconciling Congregation Program," published materials celebrating nonmonogamous relationships.

"I am not aware of RMN ever officially, clearly saying that there is any form of sexual activity between consenting adults, including multiple partners, that is inherently sinful," said Lomperis.

The Christian Post queried representatives of the Reconciling Ministries Network, but they did not return comment by press time.

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