GLENWOOD SPRINGS - Reflecting the national divide over the war in Iraq, a Glenwood Springs church has decided that the country's most well-know war protester, Cindy Sheehan, is not welcome to speak there.The decision sends organizers scrambling for another local speaking venue for the mother of a soldier who died in Iraq.Sheehan, who has garnered much media attention after camping out near President Bush's vacation home in Crawford, Texas, had been scheduled to speak at the First United Methodist Church in downtown Glenwood Sept. 16.Church member Dean Moffatt, who had helped arrange to let Sheehan speak at the facility, said he was disappointed.
"Our church should be for peace and for an open dialogue for discussing issues that affect us all, and hearing things firsthand," he said. "We should be an open society and continue to strive for that."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," he said. "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 Sheehan's visit at a meeting before the church council voted. Some church members, such as Mo Barz, considered leaving the church if Sheehan spoke there. "I was definitely against having her," Barz said. "I felt all along the church should rescind any agreement they had to have her be there."
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."Moffatt said the church's pastor, Robert Sewell, approved Sheehan's appearance. Once the plan became public, however, some church members were angry.Barz, who served in the field artillery during World War II, said he didn't favor the war in Iraq initially. He believes Bush was misinformed about possible weapons of mass destruction there, and now that none have been found he wishes the United States had been more hesitant to attack.
"I probably felt that we shouldn't have been in it in the first place, but now that we're in it I think we should stick with it, Barz said. "We have to do our best to get out of there and hopefully it won't take too long."Barz said Sheehan tried to talk her son out of joining the service.Vail, Colorado