The new president of the National Religious Broadcasters has submitted his resignation following a controversy over his effort to de-politicize the organization – a brouhaha first reported in WorldNetDaily.

Wayne Pederson was scheduled to be installed as the new president of the NRB this weekend at the group’s annual national convention in Nashville, Tenn. The organization’s board must now decide whether to accept his resignation or approve his tenure as executive director.

Pederson ran into a hornet’s nest of controversy after he gave an interview to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, his home town paper, in January in which he said he was concerned about the perception of the NRB as part of the “political right.”

Wayne Pederson

“But what’s probably more disturbing to me is that evangelicals are identified politically more than theologically,” he told the paper. “We get associated with the far Christian right and marginalized. To me the important thing is to keep focus on what’s important to us spiritually. We’re all entitled to our political views, and evangelicals tend to gravitate toward more conservative politics, but sometimes in taking our stands we’ve allowed ourselves to be typecast and the effectiveness spiritually has been diminished.”

Pederson went on to say, “There’s an element in NRB that wants us to be politically oriented – to take stands on public issues, but that’s not in our constitution. Our constitution says we’re to make the Christian media as effective as it can be. We need not be pulled into the political arena.”

Pederson’s comments were met with a firestorm of protest from members of the NRB – including board members and members of the executive committee. A memo dated yesterday from NRB Chairman Glenn R. Plummer says the executive committee voted 4-4 on whether to accept Pederson’s resignation. Plummer cast the tie-breaking vote not to accept it, deferring the action to the full board.

“Even though Wayne has ultimately chosen to do the honorable thing for NRB and resign, the executive committee did not feel we should accept his resignation,” wrote Plummer to the entire NRB membership. “Instead, we have referred the matter to the meeting of the full NRB Board of Directors on Saturday, Feb. 16.”

Pederson’s original comments were criticized by many well-known Christian broadcasters, including Don Wildmon, president and founder of the American Family Association, Tom Minnery, vice president of public policy with James Dobson’s Focus on the Family ministry, Richard Bott, president of Bott Radio Network, and Tim LaHaye, founder of Tim LaHaye Ministries and the best-selling author of the “Left Behind” series.

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