less, as a people, we come to realize that,rnin matters such as these, “We must obeyrnGod rather than men” (Acts 5:29). It isrnextremely unlikely that a judiciary intoxicatedrnwith its own power will ever approvernof such an injunction. It is hardlyrnmore likely that legislators beholden tornpolls and accustomed to subservience tornthe courts will do anything to improvernthe situation. If our moral decline is to bernreversed, it will have to be by those fewrnwho, perhaps one by one, will dare to bernDaniels and Danielas.rnHarold O.]. Brown is religion editor forrnChronicles and a professor of theologyrnand philosophy at Reformed iheologicalrnSeminar)’ in Charlotte, North Carolina.rnA Methodist Revivalrnby Mark TooleyrnMethodism, America’s third-largestrnreligious denomination, eagerlyrnembraced the Social Gospel nearly arnhundred years ago. It supported laborrnunions, civil rights, and a moderate welfarernstate. By the 1960’s, the church wasrnsupporting Third World revolutions andrnabortion rights, while opposing schoolrnprayer and U.S. militar)’ defense efforts.rnNot surprisingly, Methodist theologyrnbecame as wacky as its politics. About 20rnpercent of the church’s membership respondedrnby leaving; by the 1970’s, whatrnhad been the nation’s largest Protestantrndenomination was surpassed by the conservativernSouthern Baptists.rnThe march to the left may have beenrnhalted at this year’s meeting of thernchurch’s governing general conference,rnheld in May in Cleveland. For 28 years,rnthe denomination has been debating homosexualityrnat general conferences,rnwhich meet every four years. Althoughrnthe church consistently has rejectedrn”gay” clergy and .same-sex unions, the liberalsrnwho control the church bureaucracyrnhave long believed that time was theirrnally, rhcy assumed the church would inevitablyrnfollow the secular culture, as itrnhas on so many other issues.rnBut the window of opportunity mayrnluue closed for the homosexual causernwithin the United Methodist Church. Atrnleast two-thirds of the nearly 1,000 delegatesrnat this year’s conference resolutelyrnrejected any compromise on its teachingsrnon sexuality. Clergy who profess theirrnhomosexualit)- or conduct same-sex ceremoniesrnwill face the prospect of churchrntrials or other disciplinary action.rnThe next general conference may berneven worse for their cause. The churchrnvoted to reapportion its delegates for futurernconferences; the liberal Northeastrnand West Coast, where membership hasrndrasdcally declined, will lose delegates.rnAt the next general conference in 2004, arnmajoritv’ of delegates will come from thernmore conservative Southern and overseasrnchurches.rnThe reapportionment, along with thernincreasing political strength of conservativern”renewal groups” within the church,rnwill also affect issues other than sexualit}’.rnThis year’s general conference condemnedrnpartial-birth abortion (Methodistrnleaders had previously been uncompromisinglyrnpro-choice); abandoned thernchurch’s pacifist stance in favor of justwarrntheory; supported voluntary schoolrnprayer (which church leaders have traditionallyrnopposed); and elected three solidrnconservatives to fill five vacancies on therndenomination’s highest church court.rnThe delegates also voted to join withrnevangelicals and Catholics to pray forrnpersecuted Christians around the world,rndespite warnings from some church liberalsrnthat die “Day of Prayer for the PersecutedrnChurch” was a ploy of the “religiousrnright.” And the delegates resolvedrnto seek observer status with the NationalrnAssociation of FA’angclicals and thernWorld Evangelical Fellowship, both ofrnwhich were once dismissed or ignored byrnmainline Protestants.rnThe delegates at the conference werernsignaling that, after nearly a century, thernera of unquestioned liberal dominationrnin mainline Protestant churches is ending.rn”We who are liberals shoiddn’t pretendrnwe’re in the majority,” MethodistrnBishop Roy Sano of Los Angeles acknowledgedrnlast year. “We’re no longerrnmainline. We’re sideline. Evangelicalsrnare in the majorit)’.”rnDcmographically, liberal piety is notrnfaring well. The United MethodistrnChurch, like most mainline denominations,rnhas been losing membership for 3 5rnyears. But the fastest rate of decline hasrnbeen in the church’s most liberalrnprecincts, such as Bishop Sano’s SouthernrnCalifornia region. Virginia now hasrnmore Methodists than all of California,rnand Georgia has more Methodists thanrnthe West Coast and Rocky Mountainrnstates combined. Some Deep South regionsrnhave actually experienced churchrnmembership growth, while the overseasrnchurches number over 2.5 million members.rn(There are 8.4 million UnitedrnMethodists in the United States.)rnHence, homosexuality’s proponentsrnwill likely fail by even greater margins atrnthe next general conference, with theirrnWestern and Northeastern supportersrnpresent in diminished numbers. Thernpro-gay lobby within the church, accustomedrnto growing acceptance by thernsecular culture, must confront the realizationrnthat victory within United Methodismrnmay no longer be inevitable, orrneven possible.rnOver the last four years, a number ofrnpro-gay Methodist clerg}’ have conductedrnsame-sex unions in defiance of churchrnlaw, hoping to force the church to choosernbetween accepting those unions or facingrnschism. “After this General Conference,rnsomeone will be leaving the denomination,”rnpromised the Rev. GregrnDell, who was suspended from the pastoraternfor a year after conducting a samesexrnceremony at his Chicago church.rnIn fact, the votes in Cleveland werernnot even close. Solid two-thirds majoritiesrnrejected any effort to dilute UnitedrnMethodism’s disapproval of homosexualrnpractice. Pro-gay United Methodistsrnwere joined the day before the crucialrnvotes by Soulforce, an ecumenical progayrnlobby. Soulforce’s leader, the Rev.rnMel White, a former Jerry Falwell aidernwho came out of the closet, instructedrnseveral hundred supporters in the techniquernof civil disobedience.rnWhite and almost two hundred otherrntrustees, including United MethodistrnBishop Joe Sprague of Chicago, were arrestedrnoutside the convention center.rnThe next dav, during the votes, severalrndozen demonstrators occupied the floorrnof the convention to protest their impendingrndefeat. Delegates voted to allowrnthem to remain if they were not disruptive.rnBut after the church’s prohibitionrnagainst same-sex ceremonies was reaffirmed,rnthe demonstrators began singingrn”We Shall Overcome,” and Clevelandrnpolice quietiy ushered them away. Thisrntime, two bishops were arrested, while arndozen other bishops sang in solidarity.rn”You’ve made it clear that I don’t belongrnin this church,” shouted one angryrndelegate who, after losing a vote, rippedrnup his speech in front of a microphonernon the convention stage. “We are beingrndisenfranchised,” complained anotherrndelegate from the church’s Western jurisdiction,rnwhich strongly backed the pro-rnOCTOBER 2000/45rnrnrn