Eight United Methodist bishops in North Carolina – six of them retired – and the four Episcopal bishops in the state are calling for the legislature to repeal House Bill 2.
In a statement, the United Methodist bishops said they had observed “the hurried passage of House Bill 2 and its resultant harm to North Carolina – to individuals, to our economy, to our engagements with other states and nations, and to our future.”
As a preamble to that call, the bishops also said they share “a deep concern” for a state that has become “increasingly divisive.” They ask the 516,000 United Methodists in the state “to cultivate community that is welcoming and nurturing to all people” and “not add to the increasing levels of fear, suspicion and divisiveness in our state and our nation.”
The statement never specifically mentions gays or lesbians. And there is no direct reference to the most controversial issue in the debate – whether transgender persons should be allowed to use the bathroom of their gender identity. HB2 says their biological sex as noted on their birth certificate should dictate which bathroom they use.
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The statement was signed by two current bishops – Larry Goodpaster of the Western North Carolina Conference and Hope Morgan Ward of the North Carolina Conference – as well as by six retired bishops: Charlene Kammerer, William Willimon, Ray Chamberlain, Lawrence McCleskey, Thomas Stockton and C.P. Minnick Jr.
The Episcopal bishops, in their call for repeal, urge state leaders to “listen to the experiences of LGBT citizens and to seek to understand their lives and circumstances.”
The Right Rev. Anne E. Hodges-Copple, the Right Rev. Porter Taylor, the Right Rev. Robert S. Skirving and the Right Rev. Peter James Lee issued the letter Tuesday on the website of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina.
As reasons for their opposition, they mention not only the part of HB2 that overturned a Charlotte antidiscrimination ordinance, but also the parts of the bill that disallow discrimination suits in state courts and prevent localities from setting their own minimum wages for contractors.
The North Carolina General Assembly passed the law in a one-day special session March 23.
Tim Funk and Eric Frederick
Read the statements at nando.com/bishops