The head of a prominent Pentecostal denomination recently retracted his name from a civility covenant after more progressive Christians affixed their signatures to the statement.
Dr. George O. Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, asked that his name be removed from "A Covenant for Civility," which was released in March.
"I do not want my name or the Assemblies of God to be associated with persons who claim to be in the Body of Christ yet reject the moral teachings of Scripture," Wood told freelance writer and conservative Christian blogger John Lanagan.
Lanagan expects others to follow suit.
More than 100 Christian leaders from a wide range of theological and political backgrounds signed the covenant, vowing to model civility in public discourse and agreeing to disagree respectfully "without falsely impugning the other's motives, attacking the other’s character, or questioning the other's faith."
Some of the signers include such prominent Christians as Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; prolific author Max Lucado; Steven Haas, vice president of World Vision; Lynne Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church; Bishop Harry Jackson of the High Impact Leadership Coalition; and Jim Wallis who heads Sojourners.
When the statement on civility was distributed during a board meeting of the NAE hosted at the Assemblies of God headquarters in Springfield, Mo., Wood was under the impression that the document would be committed to "by fellow evangelicals."
He said he was not aware of other signatories "that must have been added later."
Some of the other signatories that have raised a red flag for conservative Christians include Brian McLaren, author of A New Kind of Christianity; Lillian Daniel, senior minister of a First Congregational Church which is pro-gay; and Dr. Ken Brooker Langston, director of Disciples Justice Action Network which is pro-choice.
"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," Juleen Turnage, spokeswoman for the Assemblies of God told Religion News Service.
"He (Wood) just felt that he could not become a part of a large tent."
A Covenant for Civility was several months in the making and released by Sojourners.