Evangelical Protesting UM News Bias Ousted At Religious Communicators Conference
AND NOW FOR THE REST OF THE STORY
by Rev. Kent L. Svendsen
On March 31 United Methodists may have been receiving awards for "excellence in religious communications and public relations" but before you cheer too loud consider what happened on March 30th. It was that morning that I traveled to the gathering to protest the LACK of "excellence in religious communications" and how very POOR the United Methodist publications are in terms of "public relations". Below is the press release I attempted to distribute to those at the conference. After distributing only a handful of flyers I was confronted by the conference coordinator and with the help of other officials from the conference was literally held against my will until hotel security arrived. I was then escorted by four security guards down to the front lobby and told to leave under threat of being arrested if I walked back in the doors again.
I went there representing a significant number of United Methodists of which just a small sampling are listed as endorsing the press release below. I seriously considered allowing myself to be arrested rather than continuing to be silenced and excluded. If the censorship practices and lack of inclusiveness continues, I will strongly consider not backing down the next time something like this happens. As a dedicated United Methodist I am compelled to boldly stand up against injustice no matter what form it takes or who is participating in it.
The United Methodist Church prides itself on inclusiveness and its willingness to give voice to differing opinions. Bishop C. Joseph Sprague (Northern Illinois Conference) stated it this way: "...our tradition permits, yes, encourages, expressions of dissent from an informed Christian conscience." (Source: Official correspondence from his office in a letter to Rev. Kent L. Svendsen, dated October 15, 1998) Unfortunately, in the opinion of many evangelical United Methodists, the opposite of that is happening. Not only is dissent not being "encouraged" it is actually being suppressed. But to make matters worse, many believe that radical liberal elements within the denomination are being given a disproportionate amount of coverage and a free hand to openly attack those with whom they disagree. This combination of censorship and news bias is unacceptable and must come to an end. We are especially concerned about the United Methodist Reporter and its conference affiliates, which provide much of the information that United Methodists depend upon to keep informed about denominational concerns. We are calling upon all United Methodist publications to open their doors to the evangelical opinion and provide us with the inclusiveness which we proclaim is our goal.
A particle list of statement endorses:
Rev. Kent L. Svendsen, Ordained Elder Northern Illinois Conference Coordinator: Confessing Movement Within The United Methodist Church
N.I.C.E.A (Northern Illinois Conference Evangelical Association)
Allen O. Morris, MBA, Executive Director Concerned Methodists, Inc.
Benjamin S. Sharpe Jr. North Carolina Conference Coordinator: Confessing Movement Within The United Methodist Church
Rev. John Dunnack, Peninsula-Delaware Conference Confessing Movement Coordinator.
Rev. Jeffrey D. Baer, Ordained Elder, Northern Illinois Conference, Pastor: Calvary UMC, Stockton, IL 61085
Rev. Carson Daniel Lauffer Retired UMC Elder, NIC
Rev. Louis E. Troester, III, UMC Elder, EPC.
John Terneus, retired UMC elder of the Oklahoma Annual Conference
Michael L. Gonzalez, member First UMC, Glen Ellyn, IL
Phillip M. Hanson First UMC, Glen Ellyn, IL
Joan Ritta, 360 Dogwood Trail, Quitman, AR 72131, member of the First UMC of Heber Springs, AR
Helen Cousineau, Member of Hermosa Salem Church, Chicago, IL
Charles and Angela Brant, Community United Methodist Church Casselberry, FL
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