Eight United Methodist bishops in North Carolina – six of them retired – called Monday for the state legislature to repeal HB2, a law that overrode a Charlotte city ordinance that would have extended anti-discrimination protection to LGBT persons.
In a statement, the bishops said they had observed “the hurried passage of House Bill 2 and its resultant harm to North Carolina – to individuals, to our economy, to our engagements with other states and nations, and to our future. We call for the repeal of HB2 as the legislature returns to Raleigh today.”
As a preamble to that call, the bishops also said in the statement that they share “a deep concern” for a North Carolina that has become “increasingly divisive.” It asks the 516,000 United Methodists in the state “to cultivate community that is welcoming and nurturing to all people” and “not add to the increasing levels of fear, suspicion and divisiveness in our state and our nation.”
The statement never specifically mentions gays or lesbians. And there is no direct reference to the most controversial issue in the debate – whether transgender persons should be permitted to use the bathroom of their gender identity. HB2 says their biological sex as noted on their birth certificate should dictate which bathroom they use.
Instead, the statement speaks more generally, asking their flock to “engage in prayer, in the study of the issues, in patient listening and persevering conversation with others who hold differing opinion, and in courageous advocacy for what is right, just and good for all people in North Carolina.”
The United Methodist statement was signed by two current bishops – Larry Goodpaster of the Western North Carolina Conference, which includes Charlotte, and Hope Morgan Ward of the North Carolina Conference – as well as by six retired N.C. bishops. Those are: Charlene Kammerer, William Willimon, Ray Chamberlain, Lawrence McCleskey, Thomas Stockton and C.P. Minnick, Jr.