Washington, D.C. – On this Sunday’s “State of Belief,” The Interfaith Alliance Foundation’s show on Air America Radio, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy explores the controversy surrounding where to house the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Institute.  Southern Methodist University is the leading candidate to host the facility, but many Methodists do not want the president’s name associated with their university and religion.  Rev. Andrew Weaver, a Methodist and alumnus of SMU, joins Rev. Gaddy to discuss a petition drive he is organizing to defeat the plan to house the library at SMU.


The impetus for the petition drive, explains Rev. Weaver, is the Bush Administration’s policies surrounding torture of suspected terrorists.  “Torture plays a central role in our faith,” Rev. Weaver says, referring to the crucifixion of Jesus.  “Torture is not a Methodist value, and I don’t want our university to lend its good name to a president who has authorized torture.”


As of Thursday, the petition has almost 10,000 signatures from almost all 50 states, including 14 bishops of the United Methodist Church.  The signatories are mostly members and clergy of the United Methodist Church, although Rev. Weaver encourages all people of faith to join the effort.  President Bush is the first Methodist president since William McKinley.  The petition can be accessed online at http://www.ProtectSMU.org


Rev. Weaver describes the campaign as “a living epistle to the Church in the name of justice.  President Bush’s pastor, Rev. Mark Craig, promised us that [Bush] ‘would be Moses,’ but this man has been Pharaoh.”


The petition drive will likely meet opposition from the SMU Board of Trustees, of which First Lady Laura Bush is a member.  Says Rev. Weaver, “The Board is stacked with people who have a right wing political agenda at heart, not the best interest of SMU or the United Methodist Church at heart.”


Also on the show: Journalists Joe Conason and Gary Stern, Professors John Esposito and Jane Smith

Interfaith Alliance is a network of people of diverse faiths and beliefs from across the country working together to build a resilient democracy and fulfill America’s promise of religious freedom and civil rights not just for some, but for all. We mobilize powerful coalitions to challenge Christian nationalism and religious extremism, while fostering a better understanding of the healthy boundaries between religion and government. We advocate at all levels of government for an equitable and just America where the freedoms of belief and religious practice are protected, and where all persons are treated with dignity and have the opportunity to thrive. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.