Methodist Petition Organizers’ Press Release

January 31, 2007

Bishops speak out against Bush Library, Think Tank at SMU and Vow to Push Forward

Today the organizers of a United Methodist Church petition urging Southern Methodist University (SMU) not to house the George W. Bush Presidential Library, Museum, and Institute released early results of their petition drive and vowed to continue with the drive.

“We now have as signatories fourteen Bishops in the United Methodist Church, the past President of the Methodist Church of New Zealand, two Superintendents in the British Methodist Church, over 600 United Methodist clergy, and more than nine thousand members of churches from across the United States and Canada,” said the Reverend Andrew Weaver, the SMU alum who organized the petition.

The petition, http://www.protectSMU.org, has been online for less than two weeks. Its organizers argue that Bush’s legacy is incompatible with the values of Methodism and thus that his Library, Museum, and Institute should not be housed on SMU’s campus. Bishop C. Joseph Sprague condemned the administration, stating that. “Bush violated United Methodist teachings when he initiated a pre-emptive, first- strike war, contrary to Just War criteria, when he pursued policies that reward the rich, while punishing the poor and he further sneered at church teaching by condoning the torture of prisoners. Add to these callous and arrogant acts the fact that he presided over more capital punishment executions (state-sanctioned murder is condemned by our church) than any governor in this nation’s history, and it becomes abundantly clear why a G.W. Bush Library should not be housed on United Methodist Church property. The United Methodist Church’s Social Principles call all United Methodists to social holiness. This petition reflects our church’s tradition that all United Methodists are to be held accountable for our personal and institutional behavior.”

Southern Methodist University is one of 123 educational institutions that are related to The United Methodist Church. Petition organizers believe that association with this president through his proposed $500 million library, museum, and institute will reflect poorly upon Methodism worldwide. They invite all people of faith who honor the good name of Methodism and our Christian heritage to sign our petition at http://www.protectSMU.org.

“The placement of the George W. Bush Library and the establishment of an Institute to promote the policies of this president at Southern Methodist University would be a tragedy.” said Bishop William Boyd Grove. “The policies of the Bush administration are in direct conflict with the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church on issues of war and peace, civil liberties and human rights, care for the environment and health care. SMU is a university of the church, and is home to one of our outstanding theological seminaries. Its Methodist identity and its moral authority would be seriously compromised were it to be identified with the policies of George W. Bush in this way”.

“We’ve had an outpouring of support so far,” said Rev. Weaver, “from those who don’t wish to have their beloved church associated with a man who has authorized torture and a lie-based war of aggression against the people of Iraq. The comments on the petition are a modern epistle to the church and the 45 million Methodists worldwide, pleading for justice.”

Contacts:

Bishop Joseph C. Sprague

740-845-0518

cjosephsprague@sbcglobal.net

Bishop William Boyd Grove,

304-344-1384

wboydgrove@aol.com

Bishop C. Dale White

401-847-3419

cdwhite12@cox.net

Rev. Andrew J. Weaver

212-920-9296

Aweaver747@aol.com

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Highlights from the comments on http://www.protectSMU.org:

5977
Elizabeth Cote
As a great granddaughter of Bishop A. Frank Smith, and a daughter of an SMU graduate, I oppose allowing a George W. Bush library at the Southern Methodist University campus. The mission and standards of SMU are in complete opposition to the motives and ethics of his presidency, and as such, a library honoring his tenure leading the country has no place at Southern Methodist University.

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6762
KATHRYN PROTHRO
Great-granddaughter and Granddaughter of Perkins-Prothro family, Wichita Falls, Texas. Member of Methodist church since confirmation in 1971. Current membership at FUMC, Ft. Worth TX, but inactive. Attending St. Andrews Methodist and Custer Road in Plano, Texas [Perkins family of Perkins school of theology gave 30 producing oil wells to found the seminary at SMU]
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7544
Gania Demaree Trotter
4th generation Methodist. Great, great grandfather was know as the Mountain Bishop of Kentucky,(George Daniel Demaree); my grandparents were Methodist missionaries to Japan.1897 to 1936. Rev. T.W.B. Demaree and his wife Gania Holland Demaree. My son-in-law is a United Methodist Minister at First United Methodist, Burbank California. I am married to a Methodist minister, Dr. F. Thomas Trotter, former General Secretary of the Board of Higher Education. I have served as Director of Development at Claremont School of Theology and Alaska Pacific University, during my husband’s tenure as President of those institutions. Prior to that I served as Minister of Music at Anaheim, and Claremont Methodist Churches.

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7692
Louise M. Tate
Both my parents graduated from SMU. Both my father’s brother (Willis Tate) and my mother’s grandfather (Bishop Boaz) are past Presidents of SMU. I am very glad to see and sign this petition.
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7903
Laurence Wareing
President Bush showed little interest in engaging with his denomination when embarking on the war with the war Iraq. Speaking as a British Methodist and allumnus of SMU, I believe that it would be insulting to worldwide Methodism for his name to be commemorated by a United Methodist foundation now.

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7909
Rev Judith I Maizel-Long
Presbyter of the British Methodist Church I protest the implied approval of the policies and actions of the Bush Presidency on the world stage, which would be a reasonable deduction from establishing a Bush Presidential Library at the Southern Methodist University. The arrogant actions of the US government in the irregular detentions of prisoners at Guantanamo, torturing suspects in secret prisons outside US territory is contrary to key clauses of the US Constitution and Christian understandings of the proper treatment of prisoners. US policy in Iraq has made life untenable for Christian Communities across the Middle East, from Turkey to Pakistan. In many cases these Christian communities go back nearly 2000 years, far predating the USA and indeed the UK as political entities. The policies of the Bush Presidency are contradictory to Wesleyan theology and the teachings of the Wesleys about human dignity and the purposes of human life.

2 Responses to Methodist Petition Organizers’ Press Release

  1. Jeanine McNail says:

    As a great-great granddaughter of Benjamin W. McNail (affectionately known as Uncle Ben), circuit minister of the Methodist Church, I cannot help but believe I am supporting his wishes in adding my name to this petition to protest the using of SMU for the Bush library in any shape, form, or fashion. He was born April 20, 1815 in that part of Washington County Missouri which became Iron County Missouri, was.orrdained as a Methodist minister in 1837, and served as a Methodist circuit riding preacher for the next 45 years on the old Ellington Charge which embraced the Missouri counties of Iron, Dent, Reynolds, and Wayne. A righteous and upright citizen and God-fearing man, he would have been strongly opposed to the policies of the Bush administration and thus I subscribe my name to this petition in support of not only my views but those of that Godly man.

  2. Deborah Copeland Coley says:

    I am another great great granddaughter of Benjamin S. McNail. My father was named after this august and beloved gentleman. It was quite a surprise to see his name lent in support of banning the Bush Library being built at SMU.

    However Grandfather McNail would have felt is better left to our imaginations. For myself I cannot see any man of God supporting an agenda that supports abortion which most clergy feel is murder in God’s eyes.

    I prefer to imagine his life on this earth as a devoted Christian who would have prayed for this country; healing it from it’s many ills and divisions.

    You do not speak for all McNail descendants or how they feel Grandfather McNail would have felt about Predident Bush or any other President.

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