Free Newsletter THO Store The Holy Observer - God's # Source for Christian News Reader Feedback Archives

VOLUME 1 • ISSUE 7   |   Release date: December 15, 2003

In This Issue
Saddam Hussein Converts
Re-Commits Outnumber Conversions
Church Expels Non-Purpose Driven
Obese Bishop
Worship Leaders Annoyed
Survey Results
Church Sign of the Month Christmas Special

Like The Holy Observer on Facebook!

Don't forget to sign up for our FREE email newsletter!

THO HomeFull Story Email This Page Printer Friendly
Methodists Vote to Install Obese Bishop

Obese Bishop InstalledINDIANAPOLIS, IN – In a highly controversial vote that may divide the denomination, the Free Methodist Church of North America voted today to install Dr. Jack Harvey, an openly obese man, as the bishop of the western conference of the church. Harvey is the first admitted obese person to have been installed as a bishop in the FM Church. The vote, which came after several hours of intense debate at the annual Free Methodist General Conference, fell in Harvey's favor by a margin of 421-385.

Harvey, who at six feet tall tips the scales at 389 pounds, declined to stir the controversy further, offering only a succinct statement at the press conference following the vote. "I'd like to thank my supporters for their confidence in my depth of faith and servant's heart. And I'd like to extend an olive branch to the thin community and let them know I'm their bishop, too. I will work tirelessly to oversee the western conference and care for our wonderful pastors, regardless of their race, gender, or body mass. Thank you." Harvey refused to answer questions from the press, noting with a chuckle that he had to get home in time for dinner with his family.

Opponents of the decision turn to the Bible for support. Roger Greenwood, president of Frees Against Gluttony, an internal group organized to oppose Harvey's election, says the group cites "no less than sixty direct references to the avoidance of gluttony and the type of binging so commonly practiced within the obese community." Such passages include Philippians 3:18-19, which Greenwood claims describes obese persons as "enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things." Greenwood also referred to the famous passage in 1 Corinthians that describes the body as a temple: "That passage is obviously about smoking, but we think it also applies to one's body weight. What kind of Christian would dump two or three cheeseburgers a day into a temple of the Holy Spirit?"

Dr. Harvey's Profile

Greenwood also announced the launch of his organization's Web site, The site will be an Internet rallying point for opponents of obesity, with a schedule of public protests, statements about obesity within Christianity, and a laundry list of scriptural support for the anti-fat view.

This sentiment was echoed across the nation, with protests organized in several major cities. One such demonstration in New York City drew nearly 80 people to the steps of the Brooklyn Free Methodist Church. Protestors held signs bearing slogans such as "God hates fat" and "Dr. Atkins, not Dr. Harvey." Julio Ramirez, the organizer of the Brooklyn protest, articulated the sentiment on the minds of many Free Methodists across the nation: "It was only a matter of time. First the airlines gave the gluttons two seats for the price of one. Then it was the movie theatres. Now they're electing them to the highest office of our church. We won't stand by and let our children see this kind of lifestyle glorified within the church."

Indeed, the matter of schism seems to be a question of when, not if. In an expected counter motion, thirty-five churches in the western region refused to acknowledge the headship of Bishop Harvey, promising to pursue affiliation with the Midwestern conference. Several other churches declined to participate in that motion, opting instead to seek affiliation with another denomination altogether. It is not yet known how many individual churches will sever ties with the FM church, but some leaders estimate the number to be as high as twenty.

The vote also set in motion an international response. Three bishops of Free Methodist regions in Africa—Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Rwanda—have already moved to condemn the North American church, declaring any church supportive of the decision to be "apostate, and fully outside the Free Methodist community." The African regions have begun plans to send missionaries to North America, beginning with major cities and later moving into rural areas, in hopes of reclaiming the continent for the true tenets of Free Methodism.

It remains to be seen how far-reaching the response to this decision will be. The swiftness and intensity of the response from within the Free Methodist community indicates that many were ready for this decision, waiting for the right time to submit their arguments to the national and global debate. Church experts anticipate the decision will open the floodgates to similar controversy within other Holiness denominations.

rate this page


Bookmark/Share this page:

©2007 The Holy Observer • All Rights Reserved • DISCLAIMERTHE TRUTHAbout THOPrivacyContact THOSyndicate THO!