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National Religious Broadcasters president resigns after interview flap

Posted: Friday, February 22, 2002

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The president of the National Religious Broadcasters resigned following complaints about a newspaper interview in which he said the group should not lose focus on spiritual issues as it pursues political goals.

The board of the broadcasters' group voted last weekend to accept the resignation of Wayne Pederson, who had served in the post since October. Some of the group's 1,490 members threatened to leave over what they perceived as Pederson's desire to change the organization's mission, which has traditionally been to take stands on a mix of spiritual and political issues.

Pederson said his comments were misunderstood, but he felt it would be best for the group if he resigned. He said he was ''sad to leave, but we would be sadder still if a rift had resulted from this situation.''

In a Jan. 5 interview with the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, Pederson said, ''Our constitution says we're to make the Christian media as effective as it can be. We need to not be pulled into the political arena.

''We're all entitled to our political views, and evangelicals tend to gravitate toward more conservative politics,'' he told the newspaper. ''But sometimes in taking our stands we've allowed ourselves to be typecast, and the effectiveness spiritually has been diminished.''

Glen Plummer, the NRB chief executive officer, said the 60-year-old association has always spoken out on political, social and spiritual issues, while protecting Christian broadcasters' access to the airwaves.

''Let me say that any anxiety about a change in direction of NRB is unfounded,'' Plummer said.

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