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Clergy Seek Meeting With Rep. Akin Over ‘Liberalism’ Remark

Brian Kelly
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BALLWIN, Mo. (KMOX)-More than a half-dozen clergy members upset with U.S. Rep. Todd Akin’s statement that “At the heat of liberalism, really, is a hatred of God” went to his Ballwin office Wednesday morning, hoping for a face-to-face meeting.

They were met by Akin aide Steve Taylor, who informed them that the office only became aware of their desire for a meeting through media reports after the close of business Tuesday, and the Congressman had previous commitments within the district.

Taylor offered to meet with the ministers, but most refused.

 Parkway United Church of Christ Senior Pastor Kevin Cameron said, “It’s not a policy decision that he made, I think if it were we could talk with someone on his staff.  But since it was something that he said that was really negative and damaging that we’d like to talk about what went into his thought process and what he thinks about people who are maybe more liberal and progressive than he is.”

The ministers did leave a written response, calling Akin’s statement “ignorant and offensive.” It reads in part, “Scripture clearly warns us to ‘judge not, lest ye be judged,’ yet you condemn in disrespectful, stereotypical terms those with whom you disagree. Such insulting pronouncements degrade our nation’s political dialogue and are unworthy of a public servant who claims to represent the interests of all his constituents.”

Akin, who made the statement on Family Research Council President Tony Perkins’ radio program, has issued an apology, saying in part ,”My statement during my radio interview was directed at the political movement, Liberalism, not at any specific individual. If my statement gave a different impression, I offer my apologies.”

Cameron says the apology is not enough, “It sounded like he was saying , ‘ if anyone misinterpreted what i said’. I would like to hear him say I own my comments and my ways in which I was really pushing people and using inflammatory comments.

Cameron says he would like to see Akin set up a clergy group that he would meet with regularly, “So that he can get a pulse on what people of faith are thinking since he seems to believe that he understands fully what we process and how we come to our conclusions.”

 Two clergy members and a private citizen did meet with Taylor for over an hour.

One of them, retired Presbyterian Minister, Rev.  Ben Martin, called the meeting, “extremely helpful.”

Martin says he and Akin share similar beliefs, but said he suggested to Taylor that Akin consider less conservative Christian viewpoints, “I would urge Congressman Akin to reach out to differing faith voices. I think his concentration has been upon very conservative faith voices whom I feel often distort the gospel and instead of proclaiming what seems to me to be the heart of the gospel, which is concern for all of humanity as the children of god and that we need to have a special concern for those who are less able to participate in the political realm and are set aside as somehow as being unworthy of our concern and care and efforts to help.”

As for a future meeting with the clergy group, Taylor says it’s possible, “I think a meeting like that would be most productive if  people would agree to do something outside of intense media scrutiny or a politicized environment.”

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