Last May at the United Methodist Church’s (UMC) Quadrennial General Conference, the UMC’s governing body, voted overwhelmingly — 844 to 20 — to refer a petition to its South Central Jurisdiction. The petition urged the rejection of a partisan “think tank” at George W. Bush’s presidential library, which is set to be housed at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
The think tank has received significant criticism from SMU faculty, Methodist ministers, and the public because it will sponsor programs designed to “promote the vision of the president” and “celebrate” Bush’s presidency.
Despite a recent public relations campaign launched by some Methodist ministers to highlight the partisan nature of the library, the South Central Jurisdiction voted yesterday to dismiss the petition that would block the library from coming to SMU. Though committee members said legal agreements to house the institute at SMU “tied” their hands, they offered a resolution instead that is interpreted as a rebuke to the Bush institute:
Instead, [the committee] approved a resolution saying it expects the institute to protect SMU’s “integrity,” signaling that committee members don’t want the institute’s work to affect SMU’s academic independence.
That resolution will be presented to the full conference today.
Members of the committee said their hands were mostly tied because SMU has signed a detailed legal agreement with the foundation committing itself to the three-part complex, which also includes a library and a museum.
Even though some supporters of the Bush library had predicted the committee vote, ministers had said they “will not give up“:
But the opponents, who have raised $10,000 for the public relations campaign so far, are urging Methodists to keep fighting and send donations for the campaign to Rev. Bob Weathers, a former Fort Worth district superintendent. […]
“This is really about the partisan institute, which will do the most damage over time,” [Rev. Andrew J.] Weaver said. “And it’s not just an issue in Texas. Methodists have pride in their name.”
Committee member Andrew Hernandez agreed, saying “the resolution was the best we could do,” but added, “it’s not the end of it.”
The AP reports that today the Methodist conference is set to debate more proposals challenging SMU’s decision to house the Bush library.
,The UMC’s South Central Jurisdiction said today that they will not block the partisan “think tank” at Bush’s library.