A ban on Dr. George R. Knight’s books arrived swiftly and left just as quickly leaving Michigan Adventist Book Center (ABC) customers confused, outraged, and a little dizzy.
On the afternoon of Thursday, July 6, social media posts started appearing on Facebook stating that Knight’s books had been pulled from Michigan ABC shelves at the decision of Michigan Conference President Jay Gallimore. The Michigan Conference controls the three ABC stores, located in Lansing, Battle Creek, and Berrien Springs.
Our calls to the Berrien Springs and Lansing branches on the morning of July 7 confirmed the ban: Knight’s books had disappeared from shelves and customers were being informed the books were no longer for sale. (The Battle Creek branch did not immediately return requests for comment.)
One branch employee stated she was “sickened” by the decision and stressed that this was a conference-issued ban with which they must comply. She expressed hope that the ban would be lifted soon and urged customers to keep the store and its employees in prayer as they grappled with this situation.
We reached out to Pacific Press Publishing Association, which oversees AdventistBookCenter.com and publishes Knight’s books. Publicity Director Karen Pearson informed us they had not heard about the ban but would be looking into it.
Just hours later, prayers were answered as books were returned to their shelves. President Gallimore issued a statement regarding the situation shortly after 1:00 p.m. (EST) on Friday. In it, Gallimore states that the decision has been made to “continue to make [Knight’s] books available at the ABC at this time. However, his speech at the unity conference and published address have raised serious and troubling questions.”
Gallimore’s statement continues:
“The question should be raised as to whether we should carry authors who position themselves against the leadership of the General Conference, and equate themselves to Luther standing up to the Pope of the medieval Catholic Church. Is it appropriate to suggest a comparison between the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the persecuting medieval Catholic church? Or should unions be urged to stand against the world church in the way that people were urged to defy Nazi Germany in WWII?
We understand, support, and respect Christian dialogue and the exchange of differing opinions. Perhaps the author was simply utilizing hyperbole. If that is the case, is it a responsible use of hyperbole? And if the author meant what he said, shouldn’t that be a concern?
Finally, we’re talking about the ministry of the Adventist Book Center, not a secular bookstore. We have the expectation, without apology, that Seventh-day Adventist authors, whose works are sold in the ABC, be supportive of their church and its representative form of church government. Let me say that these are spiritual issues with spiritual ramifications that need to be considered.”
When asked for his comments on the whirlwind of events, Knight stated, “I was hoping for a book burning to meet the symbolism of the times. Oh Well.”
He also informed us that he began hearing rumors about two weeks ago that his books may be banned as a direct result of his Unity Conference presentation. “This kind of activity really proves my point,” Knight said. “The conference is acting like the Medieval Church.”
“I’ve heard about the situation from many directions, but not from the ABC and not from Jay Gallimore,” Knight added.
Knight’s friend and former colleague, Dr. Woodrow Whidden, was keeping a close eye on things at the Berrien Springs branch and told Spectrum Knight’s books disappeared about a week ago, though it took a bit of time for the news to spread.
Today’s decision to reinstate Knight’s books after a ban that seemingly spanned less than a week was met with relief by ABC customers.
Knight’s many contributions to Adventism are available (for now) from ABC stores and on Amazon. By the way, if you haven’t picked up the official companion book to this quarter’s Sabbath School lesson yet, you may want to do so. It’s entitled Gospels in Conflict: Paul’s Letter to the Galatians. The author? Dr. George R. Knight.
Alisa Williams is managing editor at SpectrumMagazine.org.
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