Bush Taps Judicial Council Head for Surgeon General
By Cynthia B. Astle
President George W. Bush has nominated Dr. James W. Holsinger, Jr., 68, currently president of the United Methodist Judicial Council, to become the nation's 18th surgeon general.
As word of the nomination spread, media outlets began raising questions about Holsinger's qualifications and past performance, along with questions of continued cronyism on the part of President Bush,...
A Kansas City, KS, native, Holsinger has a Ph.D. in anatomy and a medical degree from Duke University, along with a master's degree in hospital management from the University of South Carolina. He also has a master's degree in biblical studies from multidenominational Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, KY.
Although trained in general surgery and cardiology, and described in President Bush's announcement as a cardiologist, Holsinger has no national board certification in any speciality, according to the web site of the American Board of Medical Specialities.
Staunch anti-gay leader
In The United Methodist Church, Holsinger rose to national prominence through his membership on the 1989-92 churchwide Committee to Study Homosexuality. He resigned from the committee shortly before the 1992 General Conference in Louisville, KY, because he said the committee's report was "skewed toward liberal interpretations" of homosexual orientation andbehavior. At the time, Holsinger declined the committee's invitation to be included in a minority report on the subject.
Since that time, Holsinger has consistently supported forces in the denomination opposed to the acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. He has served previously on the board of the Indianapolis-based Confessing Movement within The United Methodist Church, a 15-year-old unofficial organization dedicated to "preserving the apostolic faith", according to a statement on its web site. Current Confessing Movement board members include Asbury Seminary chancellor Dr. Maxie
Dunnam and layman David W. Stanley, also a director of the Institute on Religion and Democracy.
During Holsinger's term on the Judicial Council, the church's "supreme court" has ruled consistently against acceptance of homosexual people. In 2005, the council upheld the defrocking of Rev. Beth Stroud, a lesbian, affirming the church's prohibition against ordaining GLBT people. Also that year, the Judicial Council set off a wave of debate in the church by siding with a Virginia pastor who refused membership to an openly gay man in Decision 1032. Several annual conferences this year have adopted resolutions challenging the views expressed in Decision 1032.
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