1/9/2002 News media contact: Tim Tanton · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn.
NOTE: A photograph is available.
By United Methodist News Service
President George W. Bush has been named Layman of the Year by Good News magazine, which features the country's most well-known United Methodist in its January/February cover story.
The magazine's editorial team cited Bush's leadership in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. "Few political leaders have been required to respond to such traumatic and dreadful moments," the magazine said. "Fewer still have shown such moral courage, political deftness and Christian virtue as has this president."
This is the first time the magazine has recognized someone this way, according to Steve Beard, editor in chief. The magazine is published by the Good News organization, an unofficial United Methodist evangelical group based in Wilmore, Ky.
The idea was influenced by a number of factors, including the events following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on America and the fact that Bush is a United Methodist layman who has become "quite an incredible world leader," Beard said.
In addition, he said, Good News was disappointed in statements by official United Methodist bodies in the wake of the terrorist attacks. The group believes the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, Council of Bishops and Women's Division "gave a skewed view" of how most United Methodists felt about the attacks and the aftermath, he said.
"President Bush represents the mainstream of United Methodism - and indeed historic Christianity - in a way that many denominational leaders do not," said the Rev. James Heidinger II, Good News president and publisher, in the magazine's story. Good News also cited Bush for his "biblically informed world view, character, patience, compassion and courage."
In a letter issued Nov. 9, the bishops condemned violence in all its forms and called for prayers that "violence, terrorism and war will cease." Meeting in October, directors of the Board of Church and Society advocated restraint and reaffirmed an official church resolution condemning all acts of terrorism and opposing "the use of indiscriminate military force to combat terrorism." The Women's Division of the Board of Global Ministries asked members of United Methodist Women to urge Bush to use diplomatic means, rather than bombing Afghanistan, to bring those responsible for the terrorist attacks to justice.
Good News views the current conflict as a "just war," and the group expressed support on Oct. 10 for Bush's decision to begin military action against Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization, Al-Qaida, and Afghanistan's ruling Taliban party.