Unfortunately, many Americans believe the above about the United Methodist Church. I speak as one of its fully ordained elders (ministers) with seminary degree, ordination, career as a military chaplain, and years in the local parish.
Now for the truth.
1. Conservatives in the UMC won a HUGE victory a few years back when they hoodwinked a then-trending-liberal denomination into changing the way delegates were sent to this every-4-year church business meeting. They pushed through a requirement that delegates be chosen proportionate to the number of members in a geographic region rather than trying to balance representation by different geographic regions. This resulted in GROWING regions sending more delegates. Christian churches that GROW are very disproportionately evangelical and not liberal. The result was that votes were taken away from the northeast, the west coast, and the great lakes. More votes were awarded to the south, the southwest, and to the overseas membership in Africa, Asia, and S America. ALL of those had a much, much higher proportion of evangelicals. (Interestingly, the liberals tried to undo this 4 years ago by changing the denomination from a world body into a group of national bodies each responsible for their own rules. That failed miserably, but it was a "stealth" move they thought, and they tried to sell it as allowing overseas churches NOT to be "colonized" by "imperial American churches." After gagging a bit on the rhetoric, it was overwhelmingly voted down.
2. The UMC has NEVER supported homosexuality, homosexual pastors, and homosexual marriage. Our book of rules has been quite clear on that. Where does the impression arise that they do support it? Because Northeast, Pacific, and Great Lakes regions are full of gay sympathizers, and they are very vocal and DO still have some important positions in the church media, the church agencies, and in church colleges and seminaries. With a meeting only once every 4 years for only 2 weeks, things move slowly in the UMC, so changing structures to allow changes in those positions has NOT been the priority. The priority has been on preserving our rules and gain proportional voting.
For those interested, and many aren't because they simply prefer to bash Methodism, our position is that "homosexuality is INCOMPATIBLE with Christian teaching", that "self-avowed homosexuals" will not be ordained, that homosexual marriages will NOT take place in our churches.
3. Trials in our church: FWIW, think of the US system of rights given to defendants in our courts, and you have the Methodist judicial system almost to a T. Now try to convict someone under that system when rules of evidence are virtually the same. A part of me appreciates that protection, because it's the way I would be treated if someone charged me with something, but it also means that those who are vociferous on the streets clam up in the courts. Just a thought: how do you PROVE someone is a homosexual? Unless they're willing to stand proudly and affirm it, then you're looking for videotape that doesn't exist.
This response is already too long, but consider it a primer on the state of the war that's been waged for decades now in the UMC. Evangelicals are slowly, slowly winning one, but that generally isn't recognized.
As a former ELCA (now LCMC) Lutheran one of my lesser criticisms of my former judicatory was that national assemblies were held every two years...might have served a purpose in the the ELCA's infant years, but no longer.
The short cycle fueled a perception (which became reality) that "change is inevitable" because you can revote in just two years.
Fortunately after 2013 the national assemblies will be at three year intervals; unfortunately, change done only as a cost-cutting measure, not for ecclesiological reasons.
What about that minister who admitted she is a lesbian and basically just got a wrist slap? She should have been defrocked. IIRC, she admitted her lesbianism. Yet, AFAIK, she is still a minister in the UMC.
I have struggled for years about whether to leave the UMC or not. I have left. I am now a Baptist. It is amazing to me how little my soul was being fed in the UMC until I found a church that actually believes and practices soul-filling sermons, Sunday Schools, etc. I couldn't tell you the last time I heard my UMC minister actually preach the Gospel from the pulpit. THAT is a sad commentary on the state of affairs in too many UMC congregations around the country. Yet, we hear entirely too much 'social justice' bs. This is the undoing of the UMC.
That was a 'wicked smaht' thing to do!
I know that historically the Methodist church has been very important and influential in America, with its circuit riders and camp meetings (and its opposition to DEMON RUM!).
Let's shout that out loud. the UMC will NOT go the way of the ELCA, ECUSA, PCUSA...