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Members of a 24 member United Methodist Church (UMC) panel could not agree on whether homosexuality is a sin, so the committee's 14,000-word report on the subject was referred to the denomination's national policy-making body, which will convene in Louisville, Ky., in May. The report contains a majority statement, signed by 17 committee members, recommending the removal of an assertion in the church's book of rules that homosexual practice and Christianity are incompatible. A minority report, signed by four members, argues for retaining the current language. The panel agreed that biblical references to sexual practices should not be viewed as binding "just because they are in the Bible." Fierce debate is expected at this year's General Conference because at least 35 of the UMC's 72 regional bodies have approved resolutions calling for preserving the traditional stance.