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Methodists Cancel Publication of Bishop’s Book on Sexuality

April 2, 1988

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ Officials of the United Methodist Church’s publishing house say they have decided not to publish a book by a Newark bishop who called for greater understanding of homosexual relationships and unmarried couples.

Robert K. Feaster, president of Abingdon Press in Nashville, Tenn., said in a news release that publishing Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong’s book, titled ″Living in Sin? A Bishop Rethinks Sexuality,″ might be misinterpreted as support for Spong’s views.

″While the publishing house planned to publish ‘Living in Sin’ to encourage vigorous debate, it has determined that the church’s publisher could appear to be aggravating fierce controversy, rather than helping to find solutions,″ Feaster said in the release, dated Wednesday.

Abingdon Press officials did not answer calls to their offices Friday.

In January, with Spong’s backing, representatives of northern New Jersey’s 125 Episcopal parishes voted to give their blessing to homosexual relationships and unmarried couples and to minister to those people.

The Rev. Leslie Smith, a spokesman for Spong, said in a news release Thursday that five other publishing houses have contacted Spong about publishing the book. Smith did not return telephone messages Friday.

Spong said in the release that ″moralistic repression is not going to terminate the discussion.″

He said church leaders need to face up to the changing role of women and marriage and called for greater understanding of homosexuality and sexual reproduction alternatives.

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