Thursday, January 11, 2007

Christian Groups Trade Barbs

The Washington Post reports that the National Council of Churches and the Institute for Religion and Democracy are challenging each other's finances. The NCC, the article reports, has seen a drop in donations from churches and an increase in contributions from liberal groups like the Sierra Club. The IRC, meanwhile, is heavily dependent on support from conservative foundations, such as Scaife and Coors. While it is not unusual for conservative and liberal groups to go after each others policies, it is unusual for them to be challenging each other's funding sources, says the article.

Here, though, is what caught my eye in this article:
But the council, a New York-based alliance of 35 Christian denominations, is deeply involved in liberal social causes, such as reducing poverty and making peace...
Reducing poverty and making peace are "liberal" social causes? So increasing poverty and making war are conservative social causes? In fact, they are, or at least they are the logical outcomes of the policies conservative Christians typically support. But still it is rather startling to see making peace and reducing poverty seemingly dismissed as only the goals of radical left-wingers.


Anonymous said...


Regardless of your opinion of the IRD or the NCC, the report raises serious questions about the National Council of Churches and it’s sources of funding. Bob Edgar, like the UCC’s John Thomas, doesn’t like to have his motives questioned and will undoubtedly respond by claiming a right-wing conspiracy instead of actually explaining why the National Council of Churches hasn’t been more transparent about it’s sources of funding. In September, 2005, the United Methodist Church (Edgar’s own church and the largest member of the National Council of Churches) sent a “letter of concern” to the NCC over the departure of the Antiochian Orthodox Church and called for “immediate steps to understand” why the Orthodox church left the NCC. In the same letter, the United Methodist Church also expressed it’s “disdain” over a politically loaded fund raising letter that Edgar sent out in June of 2005.

Edgar’s initial reaction to the criticism he received from the letter was to suggest a conspiracy by “those who try to dilute our witness and mislead our friends by suggesting that the National Council of Churches is a partisan, left-leaning organization.” However, his tune changed after the UMC letter. Thomas Hoyt, then President of the National Council of Churches, said that Edgar now “has acknowledged that the letter was sent from the development office without proper review.”

The IRD, on the other hand, has a clear political agenda. Unlike the National Council of Churches, their agenda is transparent and their sources of funding are very public. But the biggest difference between the NCC and the IRD is their constituency. Whether you love them or hate them, the IRD’s members voluntarily and directly subscribe to their values and principles. The 45 million members that the NCC claims to represent are so buried under multiple levels of bureaucracy between their local churches, associations, conferences and denomination offices that there is literally no connection between the NCC and it’s members. Further, since the NCC claims to speak with a prophetic voice on a range of issues, it has a moral obligation to publicly disclose it’s sources of funding and political alliances – but it does not. At a minimum, the IRD report provides a level of transparency that the NCC won’t disclose on it’s own.

liberal pastor said...

If the IRD sources of funding are so transparent then why, in the Washington Post article does it say that James Tonkowich, the institute's president "also acknowledged that his organization has made public less information about its funders than the NCC has." And who is that John Lomperis who is the main researcher for the IRD report? Why, he's a Bush campaign worker.

Under Bob Edgar's leadership the NCC has turned a nearly $6 million deficit into a balanced budget. Shame on him for forming financial partnerships with such far-left organizations as AARP.