Withdraw from RCRC

Petition to General Conference

Total Number of Pages: 3
Suggested Title: Withdraw from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice Discipline Paragraph: Non-Disciplinary
General Church Budget Implications: None
Global Implications: Yes

WHEREAS, “The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) was originally founded in 1973 as the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights (RCAR) to safeguard the newly-won constitutional right to privacy in decisions about abortion.” (“History,” http://rcrc.org/homepage/about/history, accessed on 01/15/15);

WHEREAS, RCRC works to defend and expand the absolute right to abortion — that is, the right to all abortions, whatever the circumstances, without exception — in American law;

WHEREAS, one RCRC publication describes aborting unborn children as “God’s work” or “holy work, service provided by God’s people on behalf of God’s people,” and encourages religious leaders to bless the work of providing elective abortions (Prayerfully Pro-Choice: Resources for Worship, RCRC, http://www.readbag.com/rcrc-pdf-prayerfully, pp. 73-74, 101-102, accessed on 02/02/15);

WHEREAS, RCRC, in its “Words of Choice: Countering Anti-Choice Rhetoric” (https://web.archive.org/web/20110320103739/http:/www.rcrc.org/pdf/Words_of_Choice.pdf, accessed 02/02/15), explicitly argues against using the following words, phrases, and moral claims that are found in The United Methodist Church’s central teaching on abortion (Paragraph 161J, The Book of Discipline [2012]): “abortion as…birth control,” “[abortion] as…gender selection,” “adoption,” “crisis pregnancy centers,” “mother,” “notification and consent,” “partial- birth abortion” opposition, “sacredness of…life,” “sanctity of…life,” and “unborn child;”

WHEREAS, RCRC works for abortion rights in any and all circumstances, while The United Methodist Church teaches that moral discernment, on matters related to abortion, is essential, because the Church “[is] equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother and the unborn child,” “cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control,” and “unconditionally reject[s] [abortion] as a means of gender selection or eugenics” (Paragraph 161J on Abortion, The Social Principles, The Book of Discipline [2012]);

WHEREAS, RCRC has consistently lobbied government against any attempt to limit the practice of partial-birth abortions, while The United Methodist Church has since 2000 “oppose[d] the use of late-term abortion known as dilation and extraction (partial-birth abortion) and call[s] for the end of this practice” with rare exceptions (Paragraph 161J on Abortion, The Social Principles, The Book of Discipline [2012]);

WHEREAS, RCRC has consistently favored the availability of partial-birth abortion, while the 2012 General Conference decided that the Church’s General Council on Finance and Administration “shall be responsible for ensuring that no board, agency, committee, commission,

or council shall expend United Methodist funds in a manner that violates the expressed commitment of The United Methodist Church to ‘oppose the use of late-term abortion known as dilation and extraction (partial-birth abortion) and call for the end of this practice [with rare exceptions]’ (Paragraph 161J). The council shall have the right to stop such expenditures.” (Paragraph 806.10, The Book of Discipline [2012]);

WHEREAS, RCRC supported the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which if adopted would have overturned all federal, state, and local laws even mildly restricting abortion, while The United Methodist Church’s General Board of Church and Society withdrew its support of FOCA in 2008, because this RCRC-suppported bill was in conflict with The United Methodist Church’s position on abortion (“Living in the Truth: Church and Society, Obama, and Abortion,” Lifewatch [03/01/09], p. 6, www.lifewatch.org/pdf/lifewatch_ newsletter_03-09.pdf, accessed 02/02/15; and Paragraph 161J on Abortion, The Social Principles, The Book of Discipline [2008]);

WHEREAS, Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker, retired bishop of The United Methodist Church, has declared: “At the 2004 General Conference, the church endorsed our [United Methodist] agencies’ continued participation in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice without much of a debate about how participation in this coalition compromises our public witness against abortion” (“Do No Harm!,” Lifewatch [03/01/05], p. 3, www.lifewatch.org/pdf/lifewatch_newsletter_03-05.pdf, accessed 02/02/15);

WHEREAS, the 2008 General Conference narrowly voted, when many African delegates were not present, to continue participation in RCRC;

WHEREAS, during the 2012 General Conference, although a legislative subcommittee and committee had both voted to withdraw The United Methodist Church from RCRC, a regular plenary vote on this matter never took place, so that this petition had no opportunity to be adopted;

WHEREAS, “the members of our denomination are not of one mind over the precise conditions in which abortion can be supported” (#2026, The Book of Resolutions [2012], p. 124), and therefore agencies of the entire United Methodist Church should not be permitted to join a political lobby such as RCRC;

WHEREAS, other mainline denominations, with positions on abortion similar to that of The United Methodist Church, have either chosen not to become members of RCRC (e.g., the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Disciples of Christ) or severed ties with RCRC (American Baptist Churches USA and the Northern Province of the Moravian Church);

WHEREAS, “Reverends like us should never oppose access to abortion or sex ed” (sic, www.washingtonpost.com/ posteverything/wp/2014/09/29/reverends-like-us-should-never- oppose-access-to-abortion-or-sex-ed/, accessed on 02/02/15) — written by RCRC’s President and CEO Rev. Harry Knox, and by RCRC’s Board of Directors Chair Dr. Alethea R. Smith-Withers —

advocates for “abortion care” and thereby demonstrates that RCRC’s work continues to be divisive in The United Methodist Church because of its lack of care for the unborn child; and

WHEREAS, individual United Methodists can dialogue with RCRC without leading The United Methodist Church to legitimate RCRC’s educational and political agenda, which conflicts with our Social Principles’ teaching on life and abortion (Paragraph 161J on Abortion, The Social Principles, The Book of Discipline [2012]).

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the 2015 session of the Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church hereby charges its Conference Secretary to forward this resolution, in a timely and appropriate manner, to the 2016 General Conference to withdraw immediately the General Board of Church and Society and the United Methodist Women from membership in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC).

THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the 2015 session of the Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church hereby charges its Conference Secretary because of the fifty-word limit that has been imposed on the printed rationales in the public listings of General Conference petitions, to include with this petition the following rationale: “RCRC is a one-sided political lobby that opposes all disapproval or limitation of abortion. RCRC’s advocacy often directly contradicts our Social Principles on abortion, but it still uses our Church’s name. Several Annual Conferences and many United Methodist leaders have urged the Church to end all association with RCRC.”

Date: March 5, 2015

Signature of the Petitioner: Rod Lee Groom
Identification of the Petitioner: Member of Local Church, Saint James UMC, Sarasota, Florida Phone: 941-356-4566
Fax Number: Not applicable
E-mail Address: rod.groom@gmail.com

Date: March 5, 2015
Signature of the Petitioner: Rodney S. Akers
Identification of the Petitioner: Member of Local Church, First UMC, Brandon, Florida Phone: 813-658-1654
Fax Number: Not applicable
E-mail Address: rodney.akers2@gte.net

Signature of the Petitioner: Dorothy L. Graves
Identification of the Petitioner: Member of Local Church, First UMC, Melbourne, Florida Phone: 321-722-3660
Fax Number: Not applicable
E-mail Address: dotnruss@gmail.com

Signature of the Petitioner: William S. Clark
Identification of the Petitioner: Member of Local Church, First UMC, Spring Hill, Florida

Phone: 727-868-3454
Fax Number: Not applicable
E-mail Address: tampaclarks@hotmail.com

Signature of the Petitioner: Chester Klinger
Identification of the Petitioner: Member of Local Church, Anona UMC, Largo, Florida Phone: 727-596-1483
Fax Number: Not applicable
E-mail Address: chet.klinger@gmail.com

Signature of the Petitioner: Chris Akers
Identification of the Petitioner: Clergy, University Carillon UMC, Oviedo, Florida Phone: 321-439-9715
Fax Number: Not applicable
E-mail Address: Chrisakers@ucumc.net

Signature of the Petitioner: Mason Dorsey
Identification of the Petitioner: Clergy, Riviera UMC, St. Petersburg, Florida Phone: 727-527-6466
Fax Number: Not applicable
E-mail Address: mason.dorsey@flumc.org