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`600-pound gorillas' prevail in NRB dispute, critics apologize. (People & Events).

The National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) is continuing to deal with fallout over a controversy about the proper role politics should play in the organization.

The dispute began in January when Wayne Pederson, the recently appointed president of the NRB, gave an interview to the Minneapolis Star Tribune during which he expressed regret over the organization's image of close ties to conservative politics. Pederson said the group's primary focus should be spreading the gospel, not politics.

Pederson immediately came under fire, with several Religious Right leaders demanding his resignation. Among them were Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association and James Dobson of Focus on the Family (FOF).

Pederson resigned, but some NRB members were apparently not happy with the way he was treated. On Feb. 21, Robert Neff, vice president of Moody Broadcasting Network, wrote to the NRB's executive committee protesting its decision to dismiss Pederson.

The letter criticized certain "power boys" and "600-pound gorillas" in the NRB who had engineered Pederson's downfall. While it did not name names, the references were widely believed to mean Dobson and the Rev. Jerry Falwell.

An angry Dobson wrote a reply to the NRB committee March 1, calling Neff's charges "vicious and entirely uncalled for."

Neff quickly backed down. In another letter to the NRB executive committee, he apologized for the previous missive.

Neff later told WorldNetDaily, a conservative news service, that he had talked to Dobson and the two patched things up. Paul Hetrick, a top FOF staffer, confirmed the account, telling WorldNet, "Dr. Dobson accepted the apology and wants to put the whole matter behind them."

In other news about the Religious Right:

* TV preacher D. James Kennedy has cancelled this year's "Reclaiming America for Christ" Conference. The annual event in Fort Lauderdale, sponsored by Kennedy's Coral Ridge Ministries, has drawn thousands of attendees. This year, advance registration was off sharply. A notice in Kennedy's newsletter stated that the conference, which had been scheduled for March 22-24, was being cancelled due to "light registration combined with a severe budget shortfall."
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Publication:Church & State
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2002
Words:339
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