WASHINGTON (AP) The Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal denomination with 2.6 million followers, loosened policy on conducting second marriages for divorced members at its biennial General Council.
Prior policy said ''we disapprove of'' conducting a marriage for a divorced person while the former spouse is alive, except in cases involving fornication, adultery, or being divorced by an unbeliever.
The new wording says ''we discourage'' such marriages and eliminates a provision that any minister conducting a ceremony against those rules ''may be dismissed.''
The resolution said the former language ''creates an increasing hardship on the local pastor'' and forces decisions in ''very difficult and untenable situations.'' It added that such a ''difficult decision should be left in the hands of the local pastor,'' who knows the couple and ''is better equipped to decide whether or not he or she should perform the ceremony without threat.''
Delegates postponed until 2005 a separate decision on policy toward clergy candidates who were divorced prior to Christian conversion.
Speakers at the meeting included the denomination's best known member, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.
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