Stated Clerk Election ‘Rigged’? – PC(USA) Charged with Favoritism

( [email protected] ) Jul 27, 2004 09:30 PM EDT

Clifton Kirkpatrick, the current ecclesiastical head of the Presbyterian Church (USA), was accused of “rigging” his election by lining up supporters to “control the microphones” and ask “friendly questions” during the stated clerk election at the 216th General Assembly in Richmond, Va. earlier this month.

In a July 27th report, the Presbyterian Layman – the newsletter of conservative members of the PC(USA) – wrote that one of Kirkpatrick’s contenders released a “two-page document” meant to “manipulate the election in Kirkpatrick’s favor.”

The contender, Rus Howard, was one of three evangelical candidates to the position that the liberal Kirkpatrick held for the past 8 years. The July 2nd election, during which Kirkpatrick garnered some two-thirds of the votes, secured him four more years as the head of the 2.4 million-member-denomination.

The election process involved an hour-long question and answer period, where random commissioners are chosen to ask questions addressed to all candidates; each of the candidates are also given several minutes, aside from the questioning, to speak on their views on issues pertaining to the church.

According to the Layman, Rus Howard found a two-page document that included “10 suggested questions” to ask – questions that would favor the incumbent clerk – and “assignments” for the commissioners and delegates who take the microphones for questioning.

Howard said the moderator Rick Ufford Chase, who is also liberal, “selected” certain commissioners rather than choosing them randomly.

Following’s Howard’s charge, the General Assembly voted 436-77 to have the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly to “investigate the integrity, openness and fairness of our electoral process;” Howard said he hopes the list would be used as part of the investigation.

The following are the links to the two-page document that Howard supposedly “found in the trash can” after the election on July 2, as released by the Layman on July 27: