After a month of escalating controversy over religion and politics, the executive committee of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) voted 7-1 to accept the resignation of the association's president, Wayne Pederson, effective February 16.
Meeting in Nashville before the association's annual convention, the NRB board (with 83 of its 93 members present) voted 47-36 to endorse the committee's decision. The association's bylaws give the committee the power to hire or fire the president. The nine-member committee had taken the final vote the day before.
A January 28 vote on whether to retain Pederson resulted in a 4-4 split. Glenn Plummer, chairman and CEO, voted to break the tie, making the 5-4 vote a slight majority in Pederson's favor. The chairman of the board does not usually vote. The NRB has about 1,300 member organizations.
Pederson took office the first week of January, but controversy began to brew January 5, when portions of an interview Pederson gave to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune were published in an article. In the story, Pederson said that Christian broadcasters should focus more on preaching the gospel than on participation in political matters. Pederson said he would like to change the image of the NRB from its strong association with the "far Christian right."
Several of the prominent members of the 58-year-old broadcasting association felt Pederson's statement indicated that NRB would make a dramatic shift away from taking stands on public-policy issues. Some, including American Family Association President Don Wildmon and author Tim LaHaye, called publicly for Pederson to resign. Focus on the Family founder James Dobson made personal contact with Pederson, saying several top NRB leaders, himself included, ...1
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