No, USA Today, the UM Amendments haven't lost

Update: this article is inaccurate and out of date. See updated article here.

Dear USA are dumb.

USA Today has ran an erroneous story about the United Methodist Church and the state of the amendments. Here's what its lead says:

United Methodists have defeated amendments that would have made church membership open to all Christians regardless of sexual orientation and furthered the creation of a new, U.S.-only governing body, according to the denomination's news service.
But the original UMNS article, which USA Today based its source on, clearly says this:
United Methodists in the U.S. have largely voted against 23 proposed amendments that would change the structure of the church, but voting is ongoing in Africa, Europe and the Philippines...
The church has 73 conferences in Africa, the Philippines and Europe. Since they hold their annual meetings at different times throughout the year, the final outcome of the voting won’t be known until spring 2010.
So no, there are 73 conferences that have yet to vote, more than half of the total number of conferences. So no, the voting is not done yet.

But don't feel bad. Even a fact-checking religious service Get Religion didn't check the original article either. And other pastors seem to point to UMNS instead of realizing that it was USA Today that got it wrong.

But on the bright side...alongside the erroneous facts is a quote by the Institute on Religion and Democracy. So thank you for again linking bad facts with the IRD...they are bedfellows after all.

Kisses, ~UMJeremy


Creed Pogue,  August 2, 2009 at 11:30 PM  

The UMNS article was changed, so it isn't USA Today's "fault."

But, in reality, the amendments have lost. Like I have said in other places, when Barack Obama won enough states to secure 270 electoral votes on Election Night, he was "declared" the winner and John McCain "conceded." That didn't wait for Alaska and Hawaii to finish voting much less counting; or for the Electoral College to meet; or the Congress to certify the results; or for Inauguration Day. There is a difference between being polite and simply not recognizing reality. From the votes that have been reported, it is OBVIOUS that neither Amendment One nor any of the World Wide Church amendments will receive the necessary two-thirds to be adopted.

That should be recognized even if it isn't official until next spring rather than this fall or even today. This whole non-recognition of reality doesn't help anybody.

Rev. Jeremy Smith August 3, 2009 at 9:21 AM  

@Creed Pogue, Can you point me to the aggregate numbers of all the conference members to support your writings? Please include the number of remaining conference members to mathematically support that it is decided already.

Chuck Russell,  August 3, 2009 at 12:49 PM  

See My comments on Andrew Conard's initial post explaining the statistical impossibility of the Amendments Passing at this point. It turns out USA accidentally got it right.

HP August 3, 2009 at 1:13 PM  

Amendment 1 (on open membership) had nothing to do with sexual orientation. The language of the amendment simply read "all."

USA Today, as many others, are trying to make this an issue of sexuality, when it is an issue of our wider ecclesiology.

The fact of the matter is that currently our UM Constitution excludes many people, not just LGBT people, from open membership including women and people with disabilities.

Creed Pogue,  August 4, 2009 at 9:00 AM  

I've been tracking Amendments One and Four using individually reported results as well as Good News and other sources. My current count is 19,073-19,035 for Amendment One and 12,723-22,206 for Amendment Four. This count does not include central conferences (which are likely to be about 2,000 votes total) and NCNY, W PA, KS E, KS W, MO, NM, OK Indian Missionary, Red Bird, Alaska and Rocky Mountain. If there was less than 45,000 votes cast four years ago, then there is less than 9,000 votes left of which about 7,000 are in the United States.

Constitutional amendments require a two-thirds vote. There aren't 19,000 votes left to be counted, reported or cast so there is no way for Amendment One to pass and Amendment Four (along with the rest of the World Wide Church amendments) is obviously in far worse shape.

I hope I don't have to produce President Obama's birth certificate and moon rocks next. :-)

Matt Algren August 5, 2009 at 11:52 AM  

The last count I saw (pdf at this link) was 49.92%-50.08% with most US votes counted.

The fact is that we needed a much (!) larger cushion to cover the votes from elsewhere in the world. In areas of the world where it's literally illegal for gay men to hold hands or for straight people even to speak in favor of gay rights, we can't expect anything but a near unanimous NO vote. It's just not safe for them to vote otherwise, and I say that with the utmost respect and understanding.

It's over. Fear won. We lost. I need a few weeks to collect myself, but the time for optimism on Amendment One is passed. For at least the next three years, we have a Church where heterosexuality, among other traits, may be used as a requirement for membership.

Anonymous,  September 24, 2009 at 9:34 AM  

Throughout the annual conferences of the UMC, individual clergy and laypersons have voted in a manner that reflects their own understandings of Scripture. Ideological aspersions not withstanding, these amendments have been decided by United Methodist. Voting has not been by individual recorded ballot under the direction of individual annual conferences as directed by their Bishops, not by individuals standing up for a head count (with everyone able to see which side an individual choose). If this only reflects a secular political agenda, then everyone lost. If to have approved the defeated amendments would only reflect a secular political agenda, we would have still all lost. This process and the resultant vote reflects the will of a majority of United Methodist in regard to the proposed amendments.

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