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Open letter to Senators Acting on the Nomination of Dr. James Holsinger

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    Open letter to Senators Acting on the Nomination of Dr. James Holsinger for Surgeon General TO: The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 25, 2007
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      Open letter to Senators Acting on the Nomination of Dr. James
      Holsinger for Surgeon General

      TO: The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
      Senators Edward Kennedy, Christopher Dodd, Tom Harkin, Barbara A.
      Mikulski, Jeff Bingaman, Patty Murray, Jack Reed, Hillary Rodham
      Clinton, Barack Obama, Bernard Sanders, Sherrod Brown, Michael B.
      Enzi, Judd Gregg, Lamar Alexander, Richard Burr, Johnny Isakson, Lisa
      Murkowski, Orrin G. Hatch, Pat Roberts, Wayne Allard, Tom Coburn, M.D.


      FROM: The Rev. Kathryn Johnson, Executive Director, Methodist
      Federation for Social Action
      Bishop Clifton Ives, Co-President, Methodist Federation for Social Action
      Ms. Marilyn Outslay, Co-President, Methodist Federation for Social Action

      DATE: June 22, 2007


      RE: The Nomination of Dr. James Holsinger for Surgeon General

      On behalf of the Methodist Federation for Social Action, a nation-wide
      network of United Methodists, we are writing to express deep concern
      about the nomination of Dr. James Holsinger to the position of Surgeon
      General of the United States and to urge the senators who will be
      acting on this nomination to take these concerns into account.

      As church leaders, we are not in a position to critique Dr.
      Holsinger's medical credentials. We do feel qualified, however, to
      comment on his demeanor and effectiveness in positions of leadership
      within the United Methodist Church.

      Dr. Holsinger serves as the President of the United Methodist Judicial
      Council, the "supreme court" of the United Methodist Church if you
      will. In the past few years an unprecedented number of decisions
      supported by Dr. Holsinger and the conservative majority of which he
      is part, have been challenged by the Council of Bishops and in two
      cases have been reversed. In a case decided last year related to the
      court's understanding of who has authority to determine church
      membership, the court's decision has caused an uproar throughout the
      church.

      Both in his work with the United Methodist Committee to Study
      Homosexuality and in his position as President of the United Methodist
      Judicial Council, Dr. Holsinger's actions often appear to be
      ideologically driven. This certainly seems to be the case with the
      paper he authored entitled, "Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality."
      In this paper Dr. Holsinger lifts up health concerns related to the
      sexual behavior of some homosexuals. He writes about this not as a
      means to say that the medical field must therefore aid homosexual men
      in maintaining their health, but rather to propose that male
      homosexual behavior is "pathological."

      In one of the most helpful articles we have found written about the
      work of Dr. Holsinger, author Jim Burroway has carefully studied
      Holsinger's "Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality" and concludes that
      it has "very little of scientific value." He writes, "Worse, it
      shows a startling eagerness to pull evidence out of context to provide
      damning evidence against gay men, while willfully ignoring counter
      evidence in the same literature which essentially destroys the core of
      his arguments." We strongly commend this paper to anyone in a
      position to make decisions related to Dr. Holsinger's fitness to serve
      as Surgeon General. It can be found at
      http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2007/06/11/431 .

      There have been reports in the press about Dr. Holsinger's respectful
      behavior with individual gay and lesbian persons. We have no reason
      to doubt accounts of acts of individual kindness. Dr. Holsinger has
      not been nominated, however, to serve as a chaplain to individuals.
      He has been nominated to a position as the nation's chief health educator.

      There have also been press reports challenging opponents to Dr.
      Holsinger for attacking him on the basis of his religious beliefs. We
      wish to be very clear that we are not doing this. We have no problem
      with persons of faith serving in public office. Nor would we
      discourage individuals from allowing their faith commitments to inform
      their ethics in making decisions. Indeed, as an organization, we
      encourage this. Our concern comes when we observe a person, such as
      Dr. Holsinger, appearing to sacrifice medical and scientific accuracy
      in support of his ideological commitments.

      At a time when our nation is deeply polarized on so many issues, it is
      important to have someone in the position of surgeon general who is
      widely trusted across the board, a person Americans believe will act
      with medical integrity. Americans must be confident that the surgeon
      general will promote the common good, making decisions and promoting
      policies in the best interest of all citizens.

      Perhaps most important, national leaders, including the surgeon
      general, should be persons who can bridge the inevitable divisions
      that arise between citizens in a pluralistic society such as ours. We
      question whether Dr. Holsinger is such a person.
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