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UM Bishops Join Pro-homosexuality Pro-Abortion UM org To Oppose Surgeon General Nominee Who Holds UM Beliefs

Open letter to Senators Acting on the Nomination of Dr. James Holsinger for Surgeon General

TO: The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Senators Edward Kennedy, Christopher Dodd, Tom Harkin, Barbara A. Mikulski, Jeff Bingaman, Patty Murray, Jack Reed, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama, Bernard Sanders, Sherrod Brown, Michael B. Enzi, Judd Gregg, Lamar Alexander, Richard Burr, Johnny Isakson, Lisa Murkowski, Orrin G. Hatch, Pat Roberts, Wayne Allard, Tom Coburn, M.D.

FROM: The Rev. Kathryn Johnson, Executive Director, Methodist Federation for Social Action
Bishop Clifton Ives, Co-President, Methodist Federation for Social Action
Ms. Marilyn Outslay, Co-President, Methodist Federation for Social Action

DATE: June 22, 2007

RE: The Nomination of Dr. James Holsinger for Surgeon General

On behalf of the Methodist Federation for Social Action, a nation-wide network of United Methodists, we are writing to express deep concern about the nomination of Dr. James Holsinger to the position of Surgeon General of the United States and to urge the senators who will be acting on this nomination to take these concerns into account.

As church leaders, we are not in a position to critique Dr. Holsinger's medical credentials. We do feel qualified, however, to comment on his demeanor and effectiveness in positions of leadership within the United Methodist Church.

Dr. Holsinger serves as the President of the United Methodist Judicial Council, the "supreme court" of the United Methodist Church if you will. In the past few years an unprecedented number of decisions supported by Dr. Holsinger and the conservative majority of which he is part, have been challenged by the Council of Bishops and in two cases have been reversed. In a case decided last year related to the court's understanding of who has authority to determine church membership, the court's decision has caused an uproar throughout the church.

Both in his work with the United Methodist Committee to Study Homosexuality and in his position as President of the United Methodist Judicial Council, Dr. Holsinger's actions often appear to be ideologically driven. This certainly seems to be the case with the paper he authored entitled, "Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality." In this paper Dr. Holsinger lifts up health concerns related to the sexual behavior of some homosexuals. He writes about this not as a means to say that the medical field must therefore aid homosexual men in maintaining their health, but rather to propose that male homosexual behavior is "pathological."

In one of the most helpful articles we have found written about the work of Dr. Holsinger, author Jim Burroway has carefully studied Holsinger's "Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality" and concludes that it has "very little of scientific value." He writes, "Worse, it shows a startling eagerness to pull evidence out of context to provide damning evidence against gay men, while willfully ignoring counter evidence in the same literature which essentially destroys the core of his arguments." We strongly commend this paper to anyone in a position to make decisions related to Dr. Holsinger's fitness to serve as Surgeon General. It can be found at http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2007/06/11/431.

There have been reports in the press about Dr. Holsinger's respectful behavior with individual gay and lesbian persons. We have no reason to doubt accounts of acts of individual kindness. Dr. Holsinger has not been nominated, however, to serve as a chaplain to individuals. He has been nominated to a position as the nation's chief health educator.

There have also been press reports challenging opponents to Dr. Holsinger for attacking him on the basis of his religious beliefs. We wish to be very clear that we are not doing this. We have no problem with persons of faith serving in public office. Nor would we discourage individuals from allowing their faith commitments to inform their ethics in making decisions. Indeed, as an organization, we encourage this. Our concern comes when we observe a person, such as Dr. Holsinger, appearing to sacrifice medical and scientific accuracy in support of his ideological commitments.

At a time when our nation is deeply polarized on so many issues, it is important to have someone in the position of surgeon general who is widely trusted across the board, a person Americans believe will act with medical integrity. Americans must be confident that the surgeon general will promote the common good, making decisions and promoting policies in the best interest of all citizens.

Perhaps most important, national leaders, including the surgeon general, should be persons who can bridge the inevitable divisions that arise between citizens in a pluralistic society such as ours. We question whether Dr. Holsinger is such a person.



Kathryn J. Johnson, Executive Director

Methodist Federation for Social Action

212 East Capitol Street, NW

Washington, DC 20003


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