Author Leon Howell, a well respected religious journalist, has written a book for the United Methodists that all serious members of the Presbyterian, Methodist, and Episcopal churches would do well to read several times from cover to cover. Those who are serious about connecting the dots between right wing power brokers and their mechinations also need to read the book.
United Methodism@RISK, A Wake Up Call
In the book, Howell outlines
- who is party to this ugly adventure
- how the Institute on Religion and Democracy, IRD has organized them to win major victories on key theological and sexuality issues at recent Methodist Church conventions
- how they intend to to take over the governing structures of the Presbyterian and Episcopal Churches as well.
His descriptions of how the political right-wing, operating in the guise of a gaggle of so-called "renewal groups," through the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), has acquired the money and political will to target three mainline American churches: The United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church USA and the Episcopal Church. The IRD was created and is sustained by money from right-wing corporate foundations and has spent some $4.4 million in 20 years attacking mainline churches. Two key architects of this group are conservative Roman Catholics: Father Richard John Neuhaus and Michael Novak. The IRD's ultra-conservative social-policy goals include:
-increasing military spending and foreign interventions,
-opposing environmental protection efforts
-eliminating social welfare programs.
In a document called "Reforming America's Churches Project 2001-2004 (executive summary)," the IRD states that its aim is to change the "permanent governing structure" of mainline churches "so they can help renew the wider culture of our nation." In other words, its goal is not a spiritual quest at all, but a political takeover from the extreme right whose efforts are financed directly and indirectly by the likes of Richard Mellon Scaife and the Olin Foundation, among others.
Mr. Howell indicates that many of the same forces that have overwhelmed the Southern Baptist denomination are seeking to undermine the core values of tolerance, civility, and advocacy for the weak and vulnerable that are central to the heritage and witness of mainline Protestantism. Similar to the strategy employed against the Southern Baptists, the political right seeks to gain top leadership positions in the church by spreading misleading information and incendiary allegations against organizations and individuals. These groups employ the propaganda method of "wedge issues" like abortion and homosexuality to cause confusion, dissension and division. Mr. Howell persuasively demonstrates that the IRD and other self-proclaimed "renewal groups" are uninterested in genuine dialogue, desiring only to impose their belief systems on the target churches.
--Andrew Weaver, M.Th., Ph.D.
--Stephen Swecker, Editor: Zion's Herald, one of the nation's oldest religious publications (1823)
The secular money trail for this attack includes names that, no doubt, are familiar to most of the readers of this diary:
James Mellon Scaife
John M. Olin Foundation
Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
Smith Richardson Foundation (Vicks)
Castle Rock (Adolph Coors)
Fieldstead Foundation (Ahmanson)
Names of influential people involved in the right wing attack on mainline denominations:
#Diana Nippers - Episcopal Church,
#James V. Heidinger II - Good News-founder
#J. Howard Pew - Presbyterian Lay Committee,
Pew Memorial Trusts
#Charles Keysor - Good News founder
#Scott Field - Good News legislative director
#Michael Bauman - Hillsdale College-prof. of theology
#George Wiegel - Ethics and Public Policy Center -senior fellow
#Mark Tooley - Former CIA employee,
IRD-director and editor of UM action newsletter,
#Thomas Oden - Drew University, prof. of theology and ethics
#Roberta Green Ahmanson - IRD board,
American Anglicans funder
#David Stanely - UM Action, Chairman,
United Methodist Confessing mov.
Founder and CEO of Pearl Mutual Funds
National Taxpayers Union-chair
#Helen Rhea Stumbo - IRD-first vice chairman,
Good News-former president
#Mary Ellen Bork - IRD board, wife of Robet Bork
#Fred Barnes - Weekly Standard-founder/senior ed.,
Beltway Boys (Fox) co-host
#Terry Schlossberg - Presbyterians Pro-Life-chairman
#Robert George - Princton University:legal theorist/James Madison Program,
Ethics and Policy Studies board
First Things-editorial panel
#John Boone - IRD board member,
Presybterian Lay Committee-director
#Penn Kemble - USIA associate dir. under Clinton
#David Jessup - AFL-CIO
IRD Board of Dir.
#George Weigle - Ethics and Public Policy Center,
#Edmond Robb - United Methodist evangelist,
Good News Activist
Confessing Movement-executive dir.
#Michael Novak - Catholic layman
IRD Board of Dir.
American Enterprise Institute
#Richard John Neuhouse- Roman Catholic priest
Institute for Religion and Public LIfe in NYC-Head
IRD Board of Dir.
Since, like all other influential institutions, the mainline Christian denominations are suffering through a right wing onslaught, we need the up front support of our secular and interfaith brothers and sisters during these embattled times. We can either carry our share of the responsability to return America to its vision of justice and fairness alone and weakened, or, with the support of the greater community, we can proceed with enhanced strength and confidence.