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Should U.S. Surgeon General Nominee be Disqualified Because he is a Traditional United Methodist?

"Opposition to any nominee based exclusively on church activities and traditional Christian beliefs sets a dangerous new precedent."--Mark Tooley, IRD's Director of UMAction


Contact: Loralei Coyle, Institute on Religion & Democracy, 202-682-4131, 202-905-6852 cell, lcoyle@ird-renew.org


WASHINGTON, July 11 /Christian Newswire/ -- Homosexual groups have denounced the nomination of Dr. James Holsinger as U.S. Surgeon General because of his leadership in the United Methodist Church, which disapproves of homosexual practice. Holsinger will testify tomorrow before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, chaired by Senator Ted Kennedy. Reacting to the critique by homosexual groups, several senators, including fellow United Methodist Hillary Clinton, have already said they will oppose Holsinger. The United Methodist Church has 7.9 million members in the U.S. and several million more outside the U.S. Members include President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Dr. Holsinger has served on the church's top court since 2000.


Mark Tooley, IRD's Director of UMAction commented:


"These critics of Dr. Holsinger would seem to establish a new litmus test for public office--a test that would exclude any nominee who is an orthodox Christian with traditional beliefs about sexual ethics. This would appear to violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the provision in Article VI of the U.S. Constitution stipulating that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.


"Dr. Holsinger serves on United Methodism's Judicial Council, which has upheld the denomination's policies regarding homosexuality. Like nearly all Christian churches, the United Methodist Church affirms sexual relations only within the marriage of one man and one woman.


"Dr. Holsinger's nomination should be evaluated based on his qualifications in the fields of medicine and public health. The IRD, which has no expertise in those fields, takes no position on the nomination. But we do wish to issue a strong warning: Opposition to any nominee based exclusively on his church activities and traditional Christian beliefs sets a dangerous new precedent."