Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Stroud Reversal II

Brian makes a good point in my last post that the committee cited legal errors as the reason for the reversal. However these errors seem to have a fairly global nature. It seems like if we follow the committees logic then additional legislation or Judicial Council rulings would be required before anyone could be successfully convicted. Check out this excerpt from the UMNS:

The committee noted two legal errors.

In the first, it cited an earlier ruling by the United Methodist Church’s supreme court, the Judicial Council, regarding the rights of ordained elders—"members in full connection"—to an appointment or ministry in the church.

"It is the judgment of the committee that Judicial Council Decision No. 702, which binds this committee, makes it legal error to try, convict and deprive a member in full connection of her right to an appointment pursuant to Paragraphs 304.3 and 2702.1(b) of the Book of Discipline, when, as in this case, neither the General Conference nor the pertinent annual conference has defined the words, ‘practicing homosexual’ and ‘status.’"

The General Conference is the church’s top legislative assembly.

Second, the committee wrote that "legal error was committed by trying and convicting (Stroud) on the basis of Paragraph 304.3 because that provision constitutes a ‘new standard or rule of doctrine’ which has not been declared by the General Conference to be ‘not contrary’ to the present standards, in violation of the First Restrictive Rule and paragraph 102 of the Discipline."

The First Restrictive Rule, found in the church’s constitution, states that the General Conference shall not establish any new standards or rules of doctrine contrary to the church’s existing standards of doctrine.

If I'm reading this correctly, the committee found that Paragraph 304.3 is in effect out of order since they are defining as a "new doctrine" and it hasn't yet met the requirements of the Restrictive Rules. That ruling seems to put any future convictions in jeopardy. Assuming other UM bodies listen to this ruling, then it effectively freezes homosexuality trials until either a Judicial Council ruling or the action of the next General Conference in 2008. That's my reading, anyway.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yup. Pretty fundamental and far-reaching errors.

Mary Ann

4:54 AM  
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