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Conversations with a Prevaricating Christian

Ben Johnson

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On August 25, FrontPage Magazine published the article United Churches of Castro by FPM columnist Johannes L. Jacobse, concerning the left-wing National Council of Churches of the USA. The NCC's Communications guru, Wesley "Pat" Pattillo, promptly sent an e-mail stating that FrontPage owed his august institution a public apology. His full, enlightening correspondence with Managing Editor Ben Johnson is reproduced below. Read how Pattillo -- who is apparently an ordained Southern Baptist minister -- seems to play fast-and-loose with the facts, and decide for yourself who owes whom an apology. -- The Editors.

Wesley "Pat" Pattillo's First E-mail:

From: Pat Pattillo wpattillo@ncccusa.org
Sent: Tuesday, August 30, 2005 6:23 PM
Subject: Apology requested -- and deserved

David Horowitz, Editor-in-Chief
Jamie Glazov, Managing Editor

Ben Johnson, Associate Editor
FrontPageMagazine.com

Gentlemen:

I was keenly disappointed to read the vicious and largely fraudulent article on the National Council of Churches which you published in FrontPageMagazine.com on August 25. Surely a faith-oriented publication can avoid the defamation that was rampant throughout the article. Author Johannes L. Jacobse biased his accusations on a string of inaccuracies and discredited falsehoods, and I think in honesty you and he owe the good Christian people of the NCC a public apology.

Your article has so many wrong statements that I can't begin to catalog them. Let me just choose a few:

For example, you cite "the Program to Combat Racism (PCR) created in 1939 by the World Council of Churches (WCC), an NCC affiliate" -- yet that hardly seems relevant, as the NCC did not even exist until 1950.

  • You state that "Throughout the 1990's the NCC teetered on the edge of bankruptcy. A last minute cash infusion by a wealthy benefactor saved it from ruin." Also not quite accurate -- the NCC throughout the 1990's maintained an average of $10 million in its endowment fund, though it did run deficit budgets from year to year. But that financial distress is long gone: The NCC's operating budget has been balanced every year since 2002.
  • Your article states: "Castro's seduction of the NCC goes back decades. . . It was front man for the deportation of Elian Gonzalez." Hardly. The NCC provided to Elian's grandmothers when they came to the States for family negotiations. We had no role in any so-called "deportation."
  • You report that Dr. Edgar removed his signature from a so-called "gay marriage" document five years ago in response to "outrage in his Lesbian, Gay, and Transgender delegation." We can't imagine what you are talking about; there has NEVER been a "lesbian-gay-transgener delegation" related to the NCC, now or in the past. We have member communions, not special-interest delegations. Do you have us confused with some other organization?
  • Concerning the number of Orthodox members of the Council, your article states untruthfully that "only three . . . have belonged to the NCC... and only the Orthodox Church in America ...and the Greek Orthodox remain NCC members." Can't imagine where you got that information. A quick check of our website would have verified that, in fact, TEN Orthodox communions are members of the NCC.

That's only the beginning of the misrepresentations. Mr. Jacobse bears false witness throughout the article. He needs to repent of this sin of character assassination and ask forgiveness from his readers, and his victims. As for us, we will follow Jesus.

"The National Council of Churches is a community of Christian communions, which, in response to the gospel [sic.] as revealed in the Scriptures, confess Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God, as Savior and Lord.

"These communions covenant with one another to manifest ever more fully the unity of the Church.

"Relying upon the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, the communions come together as the Council in common mission, serving in all creation to the glory of God."

--from the Preamble to the NCC Constitution.

Wesley M. Pattillo
National Council of Churches USA
475 Riverside Drive, Suite 880
New York, NY 10115
212-870-2048

Ben Johnson's First Response:

From: Ben Johnson
Sent: Friday, September 02, 2005 10:20 PM
Subject: Re: Apology requested -- and deserved
Wesley "Pat" Pattillo, Associate General Secretary for Communications
National Council of Churches USA

Dear Pat:

I am in receipt of your e-mail of Tuesday, August 30, in which you claim FrontPage Magazine owes you and the National Council of Churches USA an apology for the article "United Churches of Castro" by FrontPage Magazine columnist Johannes L. Jacobse, published on August 25. You claim this writer has committed "the sin of character assassination," then you proceed to assassinate his character with claims he is "biased" and wrote a "fraudulent" article "rampant" with "defamation," "accusations," and "discredited falsehoods" (as opposed to verified falsehoods?). You then refer to FrontPage Magazine as a "faith-oriented publication"; we are, in fact, a current events publication. Despite your own "discredited falsehoods," you make the following specific objections to his article (I've used blue font below to separate my comments from yours):

  • For example, you cite "the Program to Combat Racism (PCR) created in 1939 by the World Council of Churches (WCC), an NCC affiliate" -- yet that hardly seems relevant, as the NCC did not even exist until 1950.

This fact demonstrates the known background of the organization with which you chose to affiliate. Your objection is much like arguing there's nothing wrong with affiliating with the Manson Family today, because their murders took place 36 years ago. Shilling for a murderer like Fidel Castro, who continues to hold prisoners of conscience, would be less excusable yet.

  • You state that

(Johannes L. Jacobse stated; actually, he wrote:)

  • Throughout the 1990's the NCC teetered on the edge of bankruptcy. A last minute cash infusion by a wealthy benefactor saved it from ruin." Also not quite accurate -- the NCC throughout the 1990's maintained an average of $10 million in its endowment fund, though it did run deficit budgets from year to year. But that financial distress is long gone: The NCC's operating budget has been balanced every year since 2002.

In other words, "Throughout the 1990s the NCC teetered on the edge of bankruptcy." I fail to see a defamatory, "fraudulent" charge here.

  • Your article states: "Castro's seduction of the NCC goes back decades...It was front man for the deportation of Elian Gonzalez." Hardly. The NCC provided hospitality to Elian's grandmothers when they came to the States for family negotiations. We had no role in any so-called "deportation."

From the NCC website: "By invitation of the Cuban Council of Churches, a (U.S.) National Council of Churches official delegation, headed by the Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, NCC General Secretary, visited Cuba Sept. 2-7, 2000. Partners for more than 40 years, the two ecumenical councils helped lay the groundwork for Elian Gonzalez's return to his father."

In fact, did the NCC not fund attorney Gregory Craig, who represented Elian Gonzalez's father's interests to have Elian remanded to Cuba (and President Clinton's during his impeachment), after the United Methodist Church relinquished Craig's legal account on the grounds that aiding Fidel Castro was not Christian -- concerns which apparently do not trouble the NCC's conscience? (Hint: this is documented, too.)

If your organization now wishes to claim you did nothing more than fly in Elian's grandmothers, you'll have to let your press secretary know; oh, right....

  • You report that Dr. Edgar removed his signature from a so-called "gay marriage" document five years ago in response to "outrage in his Lesbian, Gay, and Transgender delegation." We can't imagine what you are talking about; there has NEVER been a "lesbian-gay-transgener delegation" related to the NCC, now or in the past. We have member communions, not special-interest delegations. Do you have us confused with some other organization?

Again, please inform your press secretary. Did the NCC's 50th anniversary celebration in Cleveland not hold a special "prayer breakfast" for its "Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Caucus"? Please inform me: was this a homosexual "member communion" or a "special-interest delegation"?

  • Concerning the number of Orthodox members of the Council, your article states untruthfully that "only three . . . have belonged to the NCC... and only the Orthodox Church in America ...and the Greek Orthodox remain NCC members." Can't imagine where you got that information. A quick check of our website would have verified that, in fact, TEN Orthodox communions are members of the NCC.

Your number of "TEN" American Orthodox jurisdictions in the NCC is an inflation; just because an organization has the word "Orthodox" in its name does not mean it is in communion with the Orthodox Church. (There is, after all, an "Orthodox Presbyterian Church.") Among the groups you heap up to count as "ten" are several Oriental Orthodox, Non-Chalcedonian, or (as they are occasionally called) "Monophysite" Christians, such as the Coptic Orthodox, the Malankara Orthodox, and the Syrian Orthodox. These Oriental Orthodox have not been in communion with the Byzantine Orthodox Church (the subject of the article in question) since the year 451 A.D.[1] This was, in fact, the first major division of Christendom, dating from the early medieval period, to endure into modernity. Put another way, it would seem you could stand to research the backgrounds of your Orthodox communion members[2]...provided they tarry long enough to give you that opportunity.

Mr. Jacobse bears false witness throughout the article. He needs to repent of this sin of character assassination and ask forgiveness from his readers, and his victims. As for us, we will follow Jesus.

I'm sure the author will appreciate your liberal Protestant organization's offer of formal absolution. However, as he is an Orthodox priest, he cannot accept it.

In light of your obvious attempts at obfuscation and truth-twisting, may I exhort you to "lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish" (James 3:14-15)? Instead, "putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor" (Ephesians 4:25).

Cordially,
Ben Johnson, Managing Editor
FrontPage Magazine

Wesley "Pat" Pattillo's Second E-mail:

From: Pat Pattillo [mailto:wpattillo@ncccusa.org]
Sent: Saturday, September 03, 2005 5:13 PM
Subject: RE: Apology requested -- and deserved

Your defense of the indefensible speaks for itself. I stand by every word of my critique. I pity your readers if they believe they are getting factual information from your publication.

Wesley M. Pattillo
National Council of Churches

Ben Johnson's Second Response:

From: Ben Johnson
Sent: Friday, September 03, 2005 8:34 PM
Subject: Re: Apology requested -- and deserved

Hi Pat,

I suppose a self-righteous denunciation is easier than facing the facts, much less producing anything exculpatory on your end (which, I'm sure you recognize, is impossible). Are you denying the words of your own employers' website? Are you surprised that when the NCC's sites boast about how it "helped lay the groundwork for Elian Gonzalez's return to his father," people believe you somehow "helped lay the groundwork for Elian Gonzalez's return to his father"? Instead, you piously prattle, like Napoleon waltzing through Hell in C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce, about how "it was all Fr. Hans Jacobse's fault. It was all FrontPage Magazine's fault." Way to "follow Jesus"....

A homilette about truth telling from someone caught in multiple lies rings exceedingly hollow. Physician, heal thyself.

Cordially, Ben Johnson, Managing Editor FrontPage Magazine

ENDNOTES:

  1. The Coptic (Egyptian) Church refused to accept the Council of Chalcedon in 451 A.D., leading to a rupture in communion between its followers and what has since become known merely as "The Orthodox Church." The article in question focused on the latter. The Copts and those churches following it have since become known as "Oriental Orthodox" or "Non-Chalcedonian Orthodox"; the term "Monophysite" has recently fallen into disuse, as a long theological dialogue concluded the Oriental Orthodox do not adhere to the heresy of Monophysitism.
  2. There are three additional Orthodox jurisdictions that belong to the NCC: the Patriarchal Parishes of the Russian Orthodox Churches in the USA, the Serbian Orthodox Church in the USA and Canada, and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of America. All are known as conservative jurisdictions, yet all remain members of the NCC -- for now.

Read the entire article on the Frontpage Magazine website (new window will open). Reprinted with permission of Frontpage Magazine.

Posted: 17-Sep-05



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Copyright 2001-2014 OrthodoxyToday.org. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article is subject to the policy of the individual copyright holder. See OrthodoxyToday.org for details.


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