Church votes down Sheehan visit
September 3, 2005
Reflecting the national divide over the war in Iraq, a Glenwood Springs church has decided that Cindy Sheehan is not welcome to speak there.Sheehan, who has garnered much media attention after camping out near Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, had been scheduled to speak at the First United Methodist Church in downtown Glenwood Sept. 16.The church’s administrative advisory council voted Thursday evening against letting Sheehan appear there.The decision sends organizers scrambling for another local speaking venue for the anti-war mother of a soldier who died in Iraq.Church member Dean Moffatt, who had helped arrange to let Sheehan speak at the facility, expressed disappointment over the church’s decision.”Our church should be for peace and for an open dialogue for discussing issues that affect us all and hearing things firsthand. We should be an open society and continue to strive for that,” Moffatt said.He blamed a “neoconservative” group within the church for the decision to turn away Sheehan.”They ignore the fact that she’s a mother of a fallen soldier, a grieving person. They buy into the conservative media and the talk shows and the conspiracies – you know, that she’s a front for various organizations, etc. It’s a real threatening thing, and they completely forget the Bible, they completely forget what our faith is based upon, and they react and this is what’s happened.”Some 40 to 50 people discussed the issue at a church meeting before the council voted. Some church members threatened to leave the church if it let Sheehan speak there, and that would have hurt the church financially, said church member Mo Barz.Barz, who considers himself a strong supporter of the church, said he was among those who might have left the church if Sheehan had been allowed to speak there.”I was definitely against having her. I felt all along the church should rescind any agreement they had to have her be there.”He said he thought it was inappropriate for the church to host a political speaker.Said Moffatt, “If the president came, he’d sure be welcome. Politics becomes a dirty word for some people and they turn around and use it in another way.”Barz said he doesn’t think it’s right to compare President Bush to an activist.”We should welcome the president. After all, he was voted in as the president and we should treat him as such.”Media spokespeople associated with Sheehan had no immediate comment Friday about the church’s decision, or whether she has experienced similar treatment elsewhere.