United Methodist Opponents of George W. Bush Library and Institute Vow to Continue Fight

Today opponents of the  Bush Library and Institute vowed to continue their fight within the 11 million member United  Methodist Church to deny approval to Southern  Methodist University (SMU) to host the Bush complex.

The South Central  Jurisdictional Conference of the United  Methodist Church will meet in Dallas from July 15-19, 2008, when it will be asked by SMU to  approve the use of university land for the Bush complex, which will include a  partisan political institute operated totally by the Bush Foundation. 

United Methodist opponents of the Bush  complex will ask the 290 elected delegates to the Conference to vote  against this request.  The delegates  in the South Central Jurisdictional Conference represent the 1.83 million United  Methodists living in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico,  Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska,  Arkansas, and Louisiana.

Bishop Joe A. Wilson  explains:  "Even though the 21 member Mission Council approved by a vote of  10-4 the use of the SMU property for the Library and
partisan Policy Institute,  this decision must be ratified by the larger Jurisdictional Conference which  meets in July of 2008.” 

The rules of the Jurisdiction state that, “all  actions taken by the Council shall be valid and in full effect…..until the  next regular session of The Conference."  He adds, "to place a partisan policy Think Tank, with no oversight by the church and university, on the  grounds of a United Methodist Institution, is an issue the Jurisdictional  Conference must not take lightly." “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 United 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.”

“To place a partisan institute on the campus of a United Methodist University is unacceptable,” said  the Reverend Andrew Weaver, “especially when it will espouse the policies and  values of an administration that has advocated torture, violated international  law, and left the constitution in shambles.  We want SMU to be a great university,  not a propaganda machine for the Bush administration.”

Organizers of the effort  question the educational value of the Bush complex, pointing to Executive Order  13233, which provides former Presidents with virtually unlimited powers to deny  or grant access to documents generated under their administrations.  Bishop  C. Joseph Sprague observed, “last spring  the Faculty Senate and the history faculty at SMU issued statements criticizing  the Executive Order as incompatible with the goals of providing public and 
scholarly access to federal documents.  It is a great concern when a large number of the faculty at a United  Methodist university question the educational value of a project.”   

Bishop Kenneth W. Hicks noted, “in February of 2007, bishops, clergy and laity of  the United Methodist Church began a petition calling for the  SMU trustees and the UMC to reject the Bush project.  That petition (www. protectSMU.org) now  has the signatures of 15 UMC bishops and more than 10,800 Christians (mostly  United Methodists) and persons of conscience.  We are very much encouraged by the  national and international response that we have  garnered.”

Bishop  Susan M. Morrison observed, “while I respect the office of the presidency, presidential libraries are created, partly, to celebrate the  legacies of particular presidents.  Since George W. Bush's leadership has  been so problematic and contrary to much of our Social Principles, it does not  seem appropriate to place this library in the midst of one of our celebrated  educational institutions.”


Bishop Joe A. Wilson   
Georgetown, Texas

Bishop Kenneth W.  Hicks
Little  Rock, Arkansas

Bishop Susan Murch Morrison
Rehoboth  Beach,  Delaware   

Bishop William Boyd  Grove           
Charleston, West  Virginia                           
(cell)  304-552-6496

Bishop C. Joseph Sprague   
London, Ohio

Reverend Andrew J.  Weaver
Brooklyn, New  York

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