Taking Texas And The Nation Back

How Influential Is The Surgeon General? Really!

Posted by bosskitty on June 2, 2007


Lexington Herald-Leader Staff writers Karla Ward and Barbara Isaacs and researcher Linda Niemi contributed to this article.

The nomination of University of Kentucky professor Dr. James W. Holsinger as U.S. surgeon general has come under fire from groups that fear his actions as a high-ranking official in the United Methodist Church indicate he is anti-gay.

Holsinger, 68, who holds UK’s Charles T. Wethington Jr. Chair in the Health Sciences and is a former chancellor of UK’s Chandler Medical Center and a former state Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, is being challenged for his role in decisions by the United Methodist Judicial Council. That highest “court” rules on disputes involving church doctrine and policies in the nation’s second-largest Protestant denomination.

In his role on the nine-member Judicial Council, Holsinger has opposed a decision to allow a practicing lesbian to be an associate pastor, and he supported a pastor who would not permit an openly gay man to join the church. In both instances, Holsinger’s supporters say, he was correctly interpreting and applying church policy. (The church’s bishops voted later to allow the gay man to become a member.)

Reaction from the gay and lesbian community to Holsinger’s nomination has been pointed.

“Dr. James Holsinger has demonstrated in the past that he harbors religious-based prejudice towards homosexuals,” said Jamie McDaniel, coordinator of Soulforce Lexington, the local chapter of a national organization that opposes the use of religion to oppress lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. “As a gay American, I am deeply concerned over any surgeon general nominee not being healed of such personal prejudice.”

Boy, this really make the UNIFIER GUY look good …

A date has not been announced for confirmation hearings for Holsinger’s appointment. He will go before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, chaired by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass. Three Democrats on the committee are presidential candidates: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, a graduate of the University of Louisville law school. The GOP members include Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. Kentucky’s senators, Republicans Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning, are not on the committee.

The surgeon general is often called “America’s doctor.” The role is primarily an educational one, though it comes with public relations clout that can influence public policy.

Holsinger has been a member of the United Methodist Judicial Council since 2000 and has been its president since 2004.

In addition to his medical degree and a doctorate in anatomy and physiology, both from Duke University, Holsinger’s several degrees include a master’s degree in biblical studies from Asbury Theological Seminary, which trains many Methodist ministers. He has been a trustee there since 1990 and was board chairman from 1997 to 2004.

In nominating Holsinger last Thursday, President Bush said the cardiologist will focus on childhood obesity. Holsinger has declined to comment publicly until the Senate hearings get under way.

Holsinger’s role in the United Methodist Judicial Council’s decisions was first reported by former Herald-Leader religion writer Frank Lockwood, who is religion editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock and operates the Bible Belt Blogger Web site.

The Book of Discipline, the governing document in the United Methodist Church, says that “all persons are of sacred worth” and that “all people” may become members. However, on the issue of becoming a pastor, The Book of Discipline explicitly says “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” and thus “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” cannot become ordained ministers.

Representatives of Kentucky’s gay and lesbian community say the U.S. surgeon general needs to keep church doctrine and health policy separate.

Christina Gilgor, executive director of the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, an organization that seeks equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, said: “While serving on the Methodist Judicial Council, Dr. Holsinger voted to ban a lesbian from the clergy and a gay man from lay membership. We expect America’s ‘top doctor’ to promote healthy public policy, not ideology.”

Concerns about Holsinger have also come from gay groups on the national level.

“We can only hope that … Dr. Holsinger would rely on scientific data and not church doctrine,” Joel Ginsberg, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, said in a statement. “The Senate should take a hard look to make sure he isn’t another in a long line of ideologically driven Bush administration nominees.”

Lexington’s First United Methodist Church, asked Holsinger and his wife to set out and start a new congregation.They founded Hope Springs Community Church in a warehouse at 1109 Versailles Road. Calhoun called it a socially diverse congregation with a “very vital recovery ministry.” It serves the homeless and those with addictions to drugs, alcohol and sex; and it has a Spanish-language Hispanic congregation with its own pastor.

“It’s built around compassion for people who struggle with a lot of issues,”

Hope Springs also ministers to people who no longer wish to be gay or lesbian, Calhoun said.

“We see that as an issue not of orientation but of lifestyle,” he said. “We have people who seek to walk out of that lifestyle.”

On this point, the church would differ with many gays and lesbians, who consider their sexuality a matter of identity, not a lifestyle choice.

The UNITER GUY has struck again if Congress is still sleeping!


5 Responses to “How Influential Is The Surgeon General? Really!”

  1. Its just so nuts. I really want to see how the homocons who have supported Bush spin this. Bush’s hatred for gay people is so obvious to anyone who isn’t Mary Cheney or a member of Log Cabin Republicans.

  2. bosskitty said

    Scary huh? Thanks for expressing my feelings about the Uniter Guy.

  3. krissnp said


  4. How Influential Is The Surgeon General? Really!

  5. nytexan said

    Homocons…I like that. I wonder how any names one group of jerks can have.

    Log Cabin Republicans are hated by their own. How can they even be part of that crowd.

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