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United Methodist bishops rule in homosexuals' favor

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. — A meeting of the United Methodist Church's bishops has unanimously reaffirmed that "homosexuality is not a barrier" to membership.

The bishops were responding to the denomination's highest court, which reinstated the Rev. Edward Johnson of South Hill, Va., and ruled he had the right to bar a practicing homosexual from membership.

The bishops said the church endorses "inclusiveness and justice for all as it relates to church membership." They did not address the church's policy against gay relationships, which Johnson said he was upholding.