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Internal conflicts and divisions within
mainline Protestant denominations:

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bullet "Disunity distorts truth, wastes resources, hinders witness, impoverishes worship and discredits the gospel." Statement by an anonymous Irish Methodist; quoted by the Most Reverend George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury at ecumenical vespers, 2000-MAY-17.

bullet "Today, there are two religions in the Episcopal Church. One remains faithful to the biblical truth and received teachings of the Church, while the other rejects them...Radical activists seek to replace biblical truth and godly morality with secular humanism and moral relativism. We have become a church which contradicts our own teaching." Report of the Concerned Clergy and Laity of the Episcopal Church. 1 

bullet "A high-ranking Lutheran pastor has been suspended from his duties and ordered to apologize to all Christians for participating with Muslims, Jews, Sikhs and Hindus in an interfaith prayer service in New York's Yankee Stadium after Sept. 11." Alan Cooperman, Washington Post staff writer. 2

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Divisions within denominations: 

North American social conservatives and liberals hold conflicting beliefs about many topics with a religious, moral or ethical component. These include: equality of women in the workforce and home, equal rights for homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender persons, abortion access, corporal punishment of children, physician assisted suicide, the death penalty, and many other "hot" topics. These differences are naturally reflected within Christian denominations.

Intense conflicts have resulted, particularly within mainline Christian denominations such as Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and Methodist churches. Conservatives within these denominations have formed Back-to-Tradition or Renewal groups, which often exist in a state of tension with the more liberal leadership of their denomination.

This series of essays will deal mainly with internal conservative-liberal conflicts within mainline denominations.

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Topics covered in this section:

bullet Why do major divisions exist within mainline denominations? << We suggest that you read this essay first. ^
bullet Divisions over homosexuality:
bullet Interactions within denominations, with homosexuals

bullet Overview of the conflicts within mainline denominations: Is compromise possible, or is schism inevitable?

bullet Recommended books covering a broad range of Christian beliefs about the LGBT community

bullet Details of current major conflicts with denominations:
bullet Episcopal Church

bullet Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

bullet United Methodist Church

bullet Presbyterian Church (USA)

bullet Other denominations
bullet Divisions within denominations on non-homosexual matters:
bullet The Episcopal Church (Female ordination, prayer, modernism...)

bullet The Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod (Participation in interfaith events)

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Related essays on this web site:


Ecumenical movements within Christianity


Forces of schism within Christianity

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Concerned Clergy and Laity of the Episcopal Church (CCLEC) at:

  2. Alan Cooperman, "New York Lutheran Leader Suspended: Synod Seeks Pastor's Apology for Praying With 'Pagans' After Sept. 11 Attacks," Washington Post, 2002-JUL-6, Page A02. See:

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Latest update: 2014-JUN-23
Author: B.A. Robinson

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