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Presbyterian Church recognizes same-sex marriage as ‘Christian’

Commissioners and advisors wait in line to debate a vote on whether the church should recognize same-sex marriage at the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church at Cobo Hall, in Detroit, Thursday, June 19, 2014.
Commissioners and advisors wait in line to debate a vote on whether the church should recognize same-sex marriage at the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church at Cobo Hall, in Detroit, Thursday, June 19, 2014. David Guralnick, The Detroit News (AP)

Since the 2011 gay ordination vote, 428 of the denomination’s more than 10,000 churches have left for other more conservative denominations or have dissolved, though some theological conservatives have remained within the denomination as they decide how to move forward. The church now has about 1.8 million members.

The conservative Presbyterian Lay Committee decried the votes in Detroit as an “abomination.” The assembly voted 371-238 to allow ministers to celebrate same-sex marriages, and 429-175 in favor of amending the definition of marriage in the constitution.

“The General Assembly has committed an express repudiation of the Bible, the mutually agreed upon Confessions of the PCUSA, thousands of years of faithfulness to God’s clear commands and the denominational ordination vows of each concurring commissioner,” the Presbyterian Lay Committee said in a statement.

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Of the mainline Protestant denominations, only the United Church of Christ supports gay marriage outright. The Episcopal Church has approved a prayer service for blessing same-sex unions. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has eliminated barriers for gay clergy but allows regional and local church officials to decide their own policies on ordination and blessings for same-sex couples.

The largest mainline group, the United Methodist Church, with about 7.8 million U.S. members, bars ordaining people in same-sex relationships. However, church members have been debating whether to split over their different views of the Bible and marriage. Gay marriage supporters have been recruiting clergy to openly officiate at same-sex ceremonies in protest of church policy.

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