A dispute sparked by an article printed last spring in Liaison, the newsletter of the Evangelical Press Association (EPA), has led to the recent departure of three Focus on the Family publications from EPA. In a letter to EPA president John Stapert, Focus on the Family president James Dobson cited disagreement with an EPA board policy permitting the EPA executive director, on occasion, to address the membership “prophetically.”

The policy was adopted in response to protests about a controversial Liaison article (CT, Sept. 16, 1988, p. 43). Written by EPA executive director Gary Warner, it consisted largely of an attack on the administration of Ronald Reagan. It also urged publications to broaden their understanding of “family” beyond the traditional nuclear family, and lambasted picketing outside convenience stores to oppose pornography.

After some EPA members complained about the article, the EPA board last May adopted—and its membership approved—a policy requiring that Liaison “opinion articles” be labeled as representing views held by the writer, not the association. The policy, however, affirmed the responsibility of the executive director to speak to the membership on various issues, stating, “The EPA has not employed merely a clerk.”

Dobson’s letter to Stapert indicated that Focus was prepared to leave EPA soon after the policy was adopted, but that Stapert persuaded Focus to remain at least through October, when the EPA board might take further action. In October the board urged Warner and Stapert to try to mend the relationships strained by the article, but it reaffirmed the policy adopted in May. Opponents of the policy were not informed of the board’s actions until late last year.

Rolf Zettersten, vice-president of ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.