I have been following the ongoing General Conference of the United Methodist Church, taking place in Portland, Oregon as I write this. You can read coverage of the Conference on the United Methodist Reporter site, Christy Thomas’ The Thoughtful Pastor blog site (representing a liberal point of view), Joel Watts’ Unsettled Christianity blog site (representing a conservative point of view), and dozens of other religious and mainstream news outlets.
Normally, a conference of Methodist bishops would not receive this much attention. But this is not a normal conference. The United Methodist Church may be on the verge of splitting in two, over the issues of LGBTQ inclusion in the church.
I am no expert when it comes to the United Methodist Church. Here’s what I’ve figured out so far (and please, if you know something about the Methodists, correct me when I go wrong, and add the important detail I’m leaving out). Let’s start with some basic history, for people like me who are bewildered by the denominations within Protestantism.
I have a good friend who lives a day’s drive from me. Mostly, we’re friends from a distance. I have never met her spouse or her daughter, except on Facebook.
About the daughter. She is nine years old. Her antics (at least, those recorded on Facebook) are intelligent and inspired. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a posed picture of her. The photos of her on Facebook are all activity. When I think of her, I think of a picture of her lying on the ground, face partially hidden, examining a bug or banana slug, asking questions at a pace that defies answer. I picture her as a mass of brown curls with a girl somewhere underneath.
I have little reason to know more about her, but I do know a little more about her. She is adopted. She is half Latina. I assume she was born in the United States; I know she was living in the United States when she was adopted. Do these details matter?
I learned last week that my friend’s daughter is afraid of Donald Trump. She’s heard of Trump’s plan to deport the roughly 11 million undocumented aliens residing in the United States. She’s probably heard of that other plan of Trump’s, to deny entry (or perhaps, re-entry) of Muslims into the United States solely on the basis of their religious faith.
My friend’s daughter wants to know whether, if Trump becomes President, he’s going to send her back to Costa Rica because she’s brown.