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Religion continues to dog Dogwood Festival

Posted April 11, 2008
Updated April 24, 2009

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— Two weeks before the annual Dogwood Festival opens in Fayetteville, religious controversy continues to plague the event.

WCLN-FM, a contemporary Christian music radio station, offered to sponsor a gospel music concert during the April 25-27 festival and bring a Top 20 artist from Nashville, Tenn., said Dan DeBruer, general manager of the station. But organizers turned him down.

"We were just flat told, 'We're not doing gospel entertainment this year,'" DeBruer said.

WCLN hosted gospel acts at the festival two years ago, and it also has operated a booth there for years.

The station won't have a presence at this year's Dogwood Festival, and DeBruer said some WCLN listeners don't plan to attend the event.

"They have slighted the Christian community," he said.

The Dogwood Festival board of directors had already selected the styles of music for this year's event, and gospel wasn't on the list, Chairwoman Mary Talley said. Southern rock, country and R&B will be featured this year, she said.

"We want the Dogwood Festival to be a tradition for everyone, so that each year, you can come out and see something new and fresh – maybe hear something you've never heard before," Talley said.

The dispute over the gospel concert follows an earlier dust-up over church-sponsored booths at the festival.

One local pastor said he was told no religious groups would be allowed to have a booth. Festival officials denied that but said they had received complaints that churches were pushing pamphlets on people and passing out free food, which angered vendors trying to sell food at the festival.

Dogwood Festival officials issued a statement this week, saying they welcomed religious groups as long as they followed the festival's rules.

"We are not trying to keep religion out. We are not anti-Christian," Talley said, noting most of the people working on the event are Christian.

Hay Street United Methodist is sponsoring a Christian jazz group and serving treats on its property downtown in a festival-sanctioned event.

The festival's board reviews the event each year, looking for ways to improve, and Fayetteville officials already have asked them to review policies regarding religious groups.

Leaders in the local Christian community said they hope their interests will be represented at next year's festival.

"They took personal preferences too much into account and not the preferences of the community they are trying to serve," DeBruer said.


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  • sprice7 Apr 16, 2008

    "We want the Dogwood Festival to be a tradition for everyone, so that each year, you can come out and see something new and fresh – maybe hear something you've never heard before"

    What part of new and fresh correlates with tradition? Not that I really like gospel music, I'm just sayin'.

  • uncw40oz Apr 11, 2008

    smells of the ACLU

  • thewayitis Apr 11, 2008

    Christians should boycott the event. It's that simple. My guess is that if the numbers are way down this year, they'll reconsider some of their discriminatory rulings...

  • GetRight Apr 11, 2008

    Remove the voice of temperance, kindness, self-control, love, etc. from society and you remove those qualities with it.

    GOLOer are famous for bashing the bad guys and crying out, "where were the parents, where were the police, where was somebody who could have stopped this tragedy." And the answer is, "when you remove the voice of Reason that doesn't change with the political administration you remove reason.

    Everyone wants to know what's going wrong with America? What's happening to our children? etc. I'm not asking those questions. Other people who walk with God aren't asking those kind of questions either. It is obvious to us.

    The liberals have crafted a society where "Thou shalt not murder, steal, covet your neighbor's wife and his stuff, bear false witness, etc." are labeled as evil and out of place in our schools and can't figure out why our kids are murdering & stealing, sleeping with their teachers and killing someone to take their stuff.

    Wake up and smell the coffee!

  • Claire Apr 11, 2008

    Amused: "ousting Christians at a DOGWOOD FESTIVAL?? Don't they know that the Dogwood tree represents Christ's death on the cross??"

    *rolling eyes* To Christians that may be what the tree represents. To others the dogwood trees have pretty flowers. Some see wine as the blood of Jesus. Some see fermented grape juice.

    Not everyone shares your perspective.

  • Dumas Apr 11, 2008

    Hold the presses. Sounds like some of the posters here are a bit confused about the issue here. According to the story, which is all I have to go on, if you know more do tell, festival organizers simply said no thanks to the offer of a Christian music act. No more no less. They also said Christian groups were free to have booths so long as they followed the rules. Unless I'm missing something, I don't see a problem with that. They did say they had received complaints in the past about some of the church groups being a bit pushy. They weren't complaining, they said they had RECEIVED complaints. They probably also received complaints about the country music from the R&B crowd and vice versa. Big Deal. I don't see any showtunes, reggae, easy listening or gangsta rap on the schedule either. No biggie, they are free to schedule who they want. My point is don't make this an OPPRESSION issue, the MAN vs CHRISTIANS when the story doesn't support it.

  • colliedave Apr 11, 2008

    Maybe things like this are why people don't feel like having to "turn away" from the brainwashed dogmatics at public events...we're all just too burned out already from defending the most sacred of battlefields...our homes.

    Churches have no right to violate your privacy. Don't answer the doorbell and they will assume you are not open. A firm "we are not interested" should be sufficient.

    I refuse to debate the JWs when they come to my door.

  • colliedave Apr 11, 2008

    After all a church is open to all people.....right!?


  • whatelseisnew Apr 11, 2008

    Well let's see,lets change this to them slighting Muslims, or perhaps Blacks or Hispanics. Wonder what the reaction would be about that.

  • 3forme Apr 11, 2008

    mrduffin...enjoy your festival...we'll save a place for you at church..