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IRD Asks why Methodist Bishops Oppose Bush Library at Southern Methodist University

“Is affiliation with the Bush Administration the only ‘heresy’ at a United Methodist school that is unacceptable?” - Mark Tooley, IRD UMAction Director

Contact: Loralei Coyle, 202-682-4131, 202-905-6852 cell, lcoyle@ird-renew.org; Radio Interviews, Jeff Walton, jwalton@ird-renew.org; both with Institute on Religion and Democracy 

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 /Christian Newswire/ -- Last week a small group of United Methodist bishops and ministers, through a national petition amongst the members and bishops of the United Methodist Church, urged Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas NOT to host the proposed George W. Bush Library. President Bush is a member of Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas. Two active and eight retired bishops have signed the petition, along with 4,000 signatories.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Carter’s think tank for human rights advocacy, The Carter Center in Atlanta, is affiliated with United Methodism’s Emory University. No United Methodist bishops have publicly questioned that affiliation. Recently two dozen members of a Carter Center advisory board resigned to protest the former president’s latest book, which compares Israel’s policy towards Palestinians to Apartheid in South Africa.

Over 120 colleges and universities are affiliated with the 8 million member (in the U.S.) member United Methodist Church. United Methodist opponents of the Bush library at SMU have cited the Bush Administration’s views on national security, war, global warming and same-sex “marriage” as reasons that make such a library unacceptable. Supporters of the library at SMU, including the pastor of President Bush’s church in Dallas, cite the academic opportunities that such a library will provide. First Lady Laura Bush, who attended SMU, sits on SMU’s board of trustees.

IRD UMAction Director Mark Tooley commented:

“For decades, United Methodist bishops have largely declined to publicly question the growing secularization and radicalization of the church’s schools. Recently, a United Methodist seminary professor published a book claiming that the Bush Administration, and not al Qaeda, blew up the World Trade Center on 9-11. No bishops have publicly criticized this professor or his school.

“Professors at United Methodist schools have publicly rejected historic Christian teachings about God and morality. Typically, bishops have defended “academic freedom” on the school’s campuses. But academic freedom, at least for these petition-signing bishops, apparently does not include SMU’s desire to host a Bush presidential library.

“Is affiliation with the Bush Administration the only “heresy” at a church-related school that is unacceptable to liberal United Methodist bishops and clerics?”