In March the Southern Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church voted 10 to 4 to allow land at Southern Methodist University in Dallas to be used for the George W. Bush Presidential Library and an accompanying partisan institute. The decision was opposed by more than 10,500 Methodist bishops, clergy, and laity who signed an online petition at ProtectSMU.org.
Bush's library committee announced in December that it was in exclusive negotiations with SMU—Laura Bush's alma mater—to house the Bush archives and a conservative think tank. Fellows at this think tank could teach at the university but would be solely accountable to a Bush foundation. This concerns George W. Crawford, an SMU professor emeritus and Methodist lay leader who helped launch the petition in January. "It will change forever people's understanding of the Methodist church and what they stand for," Crawford told Sojourners, "if everything that comes out of the think tank is branded 'Methodist.'"