TULSA, Oklahoma — The bishop of the Tulsa Diocese said he withdrew his organization from the Oklahoma Conference of Churches last month because the coalition’s anti-racism and discrimination stance doesn’t include what he called “the most marginalized” and discriminated against group in the nation — the unborn.
The OCC, which is an ecumenical coalition of churches, released last month its theological statement on race and anti-discrimination, which declared “that no person should experience discrimination regardless of their sex, religion, race, immigration status, sexual orientation, political affiliation, age, gender identity/gender expression, ability, or socio-economic status.”
Seeing there was no mention of abortion in OCC’s newly released statement, Tulsa Bishop David Konderla withdrew the Catholic diocese, he said in statement dated Nov. 6 on the group’s website, The Oklahoman reported Thursday.
“(The OCC) will not commit itself to defending the right to life of babies in the womb, the most marginalized, mistreated, abused and discriminated against group in the country,” Konderla wrote in the statement. “(OCC’s) statement, with its glaring exclusion of the most vulnerable group of persons in our midst, is rendered at best inconsistent or even politically motivated.”
The OCC is a politically powerful group that was among several that backed a successful campaign for voters in the state to expand Medicaid health insurance to tens of thousands low-income people. Oklahoma was the first state to so through amending its Constitution.
The Rev. Shannon Fleck, OCC’s executive director, said Wednesday that the conference hasn’t taken a stance on abortion since its founding in 1972.
“Since the beginning of the organization, the conference has not taken a stance on either side of this issue because our denominations are not all in agreement and they’ve known that. That’s not new,” she said.
In response to the bishop’s position on the issue, Fleck said the conference stands by its theological statement.
Initially, Fleck had said Konderla removed his faith group from the coalition because he disagreed with the conference’s discrimination protections for the LGBTQ community. But Konderla’s Nov. 6 statement said that notion was “erroneous.”
“They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided,” Konderla wrote, referring to the LGBTQ community.
However, Konderla continued to say that marriage is an institution between one man and one woman.
“I believe that such an organization should be able to be forthright in its defense of the unborn and of the institution of marriage between one man and one woman,” Konderla said of the church coalition.