Lefty political groups fund NCC

The Institute on Religion and Democracy released their report Yokefellows that examines the funding sources for the National Council of Churches (NCC). It’s not pretty. The Tides Foundation and other leftwing groups contribute a good chunk of change. Read the Executive Summary.

I got an advance copy a month or so ago. Read my comments.

Comments

  1. Gary Aknos says:
  2. Dean Scourtes says:
  3. Dean Scourtes says:

    We want to protect American Orthodox Christianity against those on the left, and the right, who would exploit and damage our church in order to further their own ideological agendas.

    On the left we have the appalling example of liberal Episcopalians who are perfectly willing to split their church in two in order to promote Gay Marriage. You don’t have to be a gay-basher or homophobe to have legitimate concerns about changing the centuries old definition of marriage and opening the Pandora’s box of potential problems such a change represents. The Episcopalian leadership’s lack of sensitivity to opposing viewpoints and concerns, and their utter disregard for the unity and welfare of their church is to me just astonishing.

    Likewise, watching the NCC make political pronouncements is like watching a child playing with a gun, because half the time they don’t seem to realize, or care about the divisive impact of their statements on Church congregations. Many social and geopolitical isues are complex and defy the simplistic intepretations that the NCC is offering.

    On the right we have organizations like The Institute on Religion and Democracy, the group that authored the hit piece on the NCC posted above. Closely allied with the neoconservative Project for the New American century and the American Enterpise Institute, these are the same people who were mainly responsible for pushing the US into war in Iraq, and then drafting the occupation policies that have failed so spectacularly. As you can read above, an integral part of the IRD agenda is engineering schisms and hostile takeovers of mainline Protestant Churches. No doubt they would work their mischief in the Orthodox churches as well, given a half a chance, and they probably see the departure of the Antiochian Orthodox Church from the NCC as their opportunity to give it a try.

  4. Note 2. Dean writes:

    As you can read above, an integral part of the IRD agenda is engineering schisms and hostile takeovers of mainline Protestant Churches. No doubt they would work their mischief in the Orthodox churches as well, given a half a chance, and they probably see the departure of the Antiochian Orthodox Church from the NCC as their opportunity to give it a try.

    This simply is not true. “Hostile takeovers” of mainline Protestantism? Last time I looked, the liberals were unquestionably in charge. That’s why they are in such serious decline. As for the Antiochian withdrawal, the IRD had nothing to do with it. In fact, the action took them by surprise. For a thumbnail account of the story, read my article NCC Exit Poll: Why One Orthodox Church Left the National Council of Churches. I interviewed all the principal actors involved. The Antiochians left because of the slavish devotion of the NCC to the leftist political agenda.

  5. Rev. Chuck Currie says:

    Institute on Religion on Democracy Report Written By Bush Campaign Worker

    http://chuckcurrie.blogs.com/chuck_currie/2007/01/institute_on_re.html

  6. Note 4 & 6. Look, you guys might not like the IRD, but the difference between it and the NCC (besides right vs. left), is that the IRD is what it says it is. There is no hiding behind the facade that they represent major churches while collecting money from Soros, Heinz-Kerry, and the like. If the NCC was honest about this, then fine. But it isn’t.

    Secondly, “Strange Yokefellows” is not a “hit piece” but an expose. The NCC is clearly a partisan organization. Revealing what is already obvious to most of us who watch these things ought to be applauded, which is why I, and other Orthodox commentators troubled with the Orthodox flirtation with the NCC (and their background financiers), offered praise for the piece.

    Again, you guys don’t have to like the IRD. But your dislike and criticism of the IRD says nothing about the captivity of the NCC to the hard left. That captivity exists, it is hidden behind a facade of ecumenical unity, and it is financed by some of the most ideologically partisan figures in hard left politics. This is undisputable. The Antiochians were wise to sever their ties, and the GOA and OCA should follow their lead.

  7. Gary Aknos says:

    Jacobse is right – the IRD and the NCC are not the same types of entities. The IRD is much more transparent about it’s motives than the NCC is… and the IRD doesn’t pretend to represent 45 million unsuspecting church members like the NCC does.

  8. Rev. Chuck Currie says:

    That’s funny, Gary, because The Wash. Post said today that “Tonkowich (IRD’s president) also acknowledged that his organization has made public less information about its funders than the NCC has.” Even IRD admits they are less transparent than NCC.

  9. Gary Aknos says:

    Hey Chuckie – show me on the NCC web site where they disclose their donors?

    ‘Nuff said.

  10. Christopher says:

    “The Antiochians were wise to sever their ties, and the GOA and OCA should follow their lead.”

    I don’t have any reason to expect this from the OCA, as they have serious “leadership” issues to say the least. I would expect them to do more of the same for the foreseeable future. Certainly Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky will do his best to maintain the course. I suspect he also is supported by well placed donors.

    However, what about GOA? Is there any serious questioning at the levels necessary (i.e. Bishops) that would lead us to suspect they are moving in the right direction?

  11. I see two streams in the GOA. The first is that most people simply are not aware of the history or policy positions of the NCC. This seems to be most prevalent.

    The second is that some buy into the dominant media’s regular denunciations of Christians, particularly the strawmen the media likes to shoot down (Christians are stupid and toothless, blow up abortion clinics, etc. etc.). Their defensiveness leads them to embrace the media ordained “Christian moderates” (moderate here means anyone who agrees with the critics), a role the NCC positions itself to fill.

    What breaks through this clutter is the truth, particularly the NCC’s devotion to the hard left like its uncritical embrace of Marxism in the past as well as its dependence on Soros money, etc. in the present.

  12. Christopher says:

    note 12;

    I would add a third stream, at least when it comes to the “educated” or “active” layman, the seminary professional, and the clergy/bishops. This is the person who might not (due to his Christianity) agree with much of anything going on in the NCC/WCC, but has an ideological commitment to ecumenism and its institutions in general. This person probably does not agree with dominant media or culture, but they do agree that you should “dialog” at almost any cost. IMO it is this stream that sustains Orthodox involvement in NCC/WCC.

    I don’t think the truth of say, the NCC’s funding or Marxism, matters much to these folks as they right it off as simply something to be overcome in light of the larger goal of ecumenism itself.

    You may be right however, get enough of the Body (from the first two streams) to see the truth and these people are forced to disengage. Their ideological commitment never wanes however, as it does seem impervious to what institutional ecumenism actually does and becomes. Shoot, even I have to admit I can’t disagree with ecumenism as an ideal. That’s just it, an idea that is so chalked full of “good intentions” (even “Holy” ones perhaps) just has to be workable, right? The evidence would seem otherwise however…

  13. Dean Scourtes says:

    My impression is that some people are using the NCC as a vehicle to respond to what they see is a politicization of religion from the right, by politicizing religion from the left. This is an inappropriate way to respond. There is politicization of the church from the right to be sure, but the way to respond is not to emulate it, but to not buy into it.

    The purpose of the NCC is to foster communication and cooperation between different Christian denonominations. Saint Paul makes it clear that the Church is the body of Christ, and has many different members (1 Corinthians 12:14) who all have a place. It is inclusive, not exclusive in nature. The church is not a weapon to be used to gain advantage over our political opponents. When religious organizations insert themselves into the nitty-gritty of partisan politics, or make inflammatory, unbalanced, one-sided statements on controversial issues where reasonable people can disagree – only negative results can occur.

    I don’t want to sit in a pew in church and listen to right-wing propaganda. By the same right, my conservative friend sitting next to me in the pew should not have to listen to left-wing propaganda. Rather we both need to be focusing on improving our relationship with God.

    Instead of leaving the Orthodox churches that are members of the NCC can play a more useful role by using their influence to rein in Mr. Edgar and others and refocusing the organization on its original mission. Organizations like the IRD should be resisted because they are the proverbial wolves in sheeps clothing trying to manipulate Christian churches and turn them into intruments of neoconservative policy.

  14. Note 14. Dean writes:

    The purpose of the NCC is to foster communication and cooperation between different Christian denonominations.

    Dean, you just don’t know enough about the NCC. They are afflicted with the malady that strikes so many on the hard left (that defines the hard left actually): they cower in the face of tyranny. They apologized for the Soviet Union, Cuba, Angola, N. Korea, you name it. A Cuban exile freed from Castro’s prison recounted how he was imprisoned for faith while NCC delegates praised Castro outside the prison walls. He heard it with his own ears. When the Patriarch visited Cuba, NCC delegates protested in front of Guantanamo. Human rights activists pleaded with them to protest in front of a Cuban prison. They refused. One of the delegates on the trip related this to me first hand.

    You really have to educate yourself more. Here are some sources NCC Resource Page.

    Read this article where an NCC operative tried to take me to task for telling the truth about them: Conversations With a Prevaricating Christian.

    Instead of leaving the Orthodox churches that are members of the NCC can play a more useful role by using their influence to rein in Mr. Edgar and others and refocusing the organization on its original mission.

    Again, sounds good, but it doesn’t work. Read my piece on why the Antiochian jurisdiction finally nixed your idea. NCC Exit Poll: Why One Orthodox Church Left the National Council of Churches

    Organizations like the IRD should be resisted because they are the proverbial wolves in sheeps clothing trying to manipulate Christian churches and turn them into intruments of neoconservative policy.

    Dean, please. The IRD represents no one but itself. They have nothing to hide. You might not agree with the IRD which is fine. But they real wolf here is the NCC because it claims it represents 45 million Christians when in fact it doesn’t, not even close. If it did, why would it need Soros and Heinz-Kerry money? The IRD makes no such claim. What you see is what you get.

  15. Note 13. Christopher

    I would add a third stream, at least when it comes to the “educated” or “active” layman, the seminary professional, and the clergy/bishops. This is the person who might not (due to his Christianity) agree with much of anything going on in the NCC/WCC, but has an ideological commitment to ecumenism and its institutions in general. This person probably does not agree with dominant media or culture, but they do agree that you should “dialog” at almost any cost. IMO it is this stream that sustains Orthodox involvement in NCC/WCC.

    Christopher, I don’t see this. I understand what you are trying to say, and I hear it said among professional ecumenicists, but I think the motive behind the rhetoric is either an affinity with leftist ideas (less common) or a defensiveness about Christianity (more common)– at least among the Orthodox. If their goal were purely pragmatic, then they would not stay in what otherwise is a pretty marginal organization.

    Of course the defensiveness is cloaked in the morally loaded language of the left thus making the ideas appear more humane, compassionate, etc. etc. than those of the moral and cultural right. That is part of its appeal I think. It appeases mainstream critics and provides a (somewhat) credible means of appearing moderate and relevant in their eyes.

  16. Jim Holman says:

    Fr. Hans writes: “The IRD represents no one but itself. They have nothing to hide. You might not agree with the IRD which is fine. But they real wolf here is the NCC because it claims it represents 45 million Christians when in fact it doesn’t, not even close. If it did, why would it need Soros and Heinz-Kerry money? The IRD makes no such claim. What you see is what you get.”

    Here’s different view:

    “The National Council of Churches (NCC)is an ecumenical agency that is operated by elected representatives of the member national denominations whose membership comprises 45 million Americans in 100,000 churches. It serves many functions in organizing and in expressing the views of, historic, mainline protestantism. It is a representative body, whose direction is set by the member denominations to which it is accountable, and operates with transparency.

    “This stands in stark contrast to the IRD, whose leadership is unelected and self perpetuating; which operates in secresy, and whose agenda and activities seek to utilize the democratic politics of the mainline denominations in order to foment dissention and division, and to undermine the National Council of Churches itself.

    ” . . . The occasion for all of this was a press conference held by IRD to announce the release of a report showing that the NCC has received about half of its budget from major foundations and some other groups this past year. IRD’s purpose was to allege that the NCC has a politcal agenda out of snyc with its members, and to deflect attention from reports in the past year or so documenting how IRD’s agenda is directly connected to the political motives of its funders.”

    ” . . . You wouldn’t know that the group has been bankrolled by the leading strategic funders of the conservative movement and the religious right such as Richard Mellon Scaife and Howard Ahmanson, and cheer-led by The Washington Times newspaper, which is owned, controlled and bankrolled by the Unification Church of Rev. Sun Myung Moon.”
    http://www.talk2action.org/story/2007/1/11/202318/102

    It’s interesting to me that the title of this article is “Lefty political groups fund NCC.” Of course, in Orthodoxy Today we’re never going to see it’s counterpart, “Right-wing political contributors fund IRD,” or “With right-wing money, IRD seeks to destabilize mainline churches through ‘renewal groups’ using wedge issues.”

  17. Note 17. Jim, it still doesn’t matter. The IRD exists as a self-directed group transparently working against the leftist ideas in their respective congregations. They don’t claim they represent those churches, or that they want to foster ecumenical unity, whatever. They are a conservative watchdog group operating independently. If you don’t like them, fine. You don’t have to. But they are who they say they are.

    The NCC however, uses ecumenicism as political cover. Why don’t they just come out and say they are leftist? There would be no problem here. But they want it both ways. They want to position themselves as an ecumenical body and at the same time promote leftist ideas thereby giving a Christian imprimateur to their agenda. The Antiochian Orthodox quit for precisely this reason.

    It’s interesting to me that the title of this article is “Lefty political groups fund NCC.” Of course, in Orthodoxy Today we’re never going to see it’s counterpart, “Right-wing political contributors fund IRD,” or “With right-wing money, IRD seeks to destabilize mainline churches through ‘renewal groups’ using wedge issues.”

    This doesn’t matter either. The IRD does not look for denominational approval. Even if it did, the Orthodox would not give it, as they shouldn’t.

    As for mainstream decline, it began not because of groups like the IRD. The decline began when mainstream leadership lurched leftward (the NCC followed this trajectory, btw) and began endorsing programs and ideas in conflict with the Judeo/Christian moral tradition. You see it happening today with the ordination of a practicing homosexual as bishop in the Episcopalian Church. It drove that once noble Church into schism. The IRD and groups like it arose in response to this lurch.

    One more thing:

    The National Council of Churches (NCC)is an ecumenical agency that is operated by elected representatives of the member national denominations whose membership comprises 45 million Americans in 100,000 churches. It serves many functions in organizing and in expressing the views of, historic, mainline protestantism. It is a representative body, whose direction is set by the member denominations to which it is accountable, and operates with transparency.

    This is straight out false. The author who quoted is just repeating a NCC press release. The truth is that people in the pews don’t know much about the NCC, and if they did would probably demand an end to funding (to the extent that these “member national denominations” even give anymore). And the part about accountability is bogus as well. One the principals in the Antiochian withdrawal who has worked with the NCC for nearly twenty years told me that although the Antiochians represented the minority dissent in many of the NCC policy statements, their views were never made public. It became clear that the NCC is an agenda driven organization and so they quit.

  18. Christopher says:

    “Christopher, I don’t see this. I understand what you are trying to say, and I hear it said among professional ecumenicists, but I think the motive behind the rhetoric is either an affinity with leftist ideas (less common) or a defensiveness about Christianity (more common)– at least among the Orthodox.”

    Just so I understand you, what you are saying is that even among the ‘professional ecumenicists’ in Orthodox circles it’s not an ideological commitment to ecumenism (which they explain in terms of the larger ‘great commission’), their real motive (unconscious perhaps?) is a ‘defensiveness’ of Christianity??

    I guess I take men like Fr. Hopko (just to use one example) more at their word – that they are more self conscious of their motivations and reasonings.

    I do see your point however, as the desire to remain “relevant” and to have a “voice” is powerful I think, epically among the bishops and seminary professionals who seem to be the key in keeping Orthodox involved in the NCC/WCC.