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National Religious Broadcasters President Resigns Amid Controversy

Wayne Pederson resigned as president of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) after being pressured by NRB leaders who voted to fire him in January. At issue were comments made by Pederson in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, in which Pederson accused television and radio evangelists of being “identified politically more than theologically.” Pederson continued, “We get associated with the far Christian right and marginalized. To me, the important thing is to keep the focus on what’s important to us spirituallyÉ.We need to not be pulled into the political arena.” The NRB obviously disagreed. Leading evangelicals, including James Dobson of Focus on the Family, began calling for Pederson to resign. Others called Pederson’s comments offensive. Richard Bott of the Bott Radio Network in Kansas City, Missouri said that using “the term Ôfar Christian right’ in a pejorative way’Éwas offensive and very alarming to many people.”

While Pederson resigned for suggesting that religious leaders stick to religion, the Christian right was supporting the Houses of Worship Political Speech Protection Act. This bill would allow churches to endorse political candidates and use church funds to support election campaigns. The Houses of Worship Political Speech Protection Act is pending in the House Ways and Means Committee and may be considered in April.

Sources:

Washington Post, 2/21/02; Houses of Worship Political Speech Protection Act; Washington Post, 2/17/02; Feminist Daily News Wire, 2/19/02