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(RNS) The top leader of the Assemblies of God wants his name removed from a civility statement signed by religious leaders after learning that its signatories included non-

evangelicals.
George O. Wood, general superintendent of the prominent Pentecostal denomination, decided earlier this month that he no longer wanted his name on the statement issued in March, his denomination’s spokeswoman said.
“The problem is the tent that has grown so large on the signatures of this that are including people who are supportive of gay marriage and abortion rights,” spokeswoman Juleen Turnage said in an interview Tuesday (April 13).
“He just felt that he could not become a part of a large tent.”
Wood, an executive committee member of the National Association of Evangelicals, signed the document during an NAE board meeting in March that he hosted at Assemblies of God headquarters in Springfield, Mo.
The “Covenant for Civility” was signed by more than 100 Christian leaders — from Prison Fellowship founder Chuck Colson to United Church of Christ President and General Minister Geoffrey A. Black. It aimed to make the church an example of bridging cultural and political divides.
Turnage said Wood agreed with the focus on civility, but thought wording such as “unity we have in the body of Christ” was referring strictly to evangelical Christians.
“He says that he cannot be a part of signing a document that includes people who are taking a viewpoint in their own issues that are clearly contradictory to the moral teachings of Scripture,” she said.
The National Association of Evangelicals declined to comment.
The Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of the anti-poverty group Sojourners, which released the document on March 25, said Tuesday he has yet to receive a request to remove anyone’s name.
“The statement was about how we deal with differences and deal with them in a civil and moral way,” he said.
— Adelle M. Banks
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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