Watch­dog: Sec­u­lar lib­eral donors move church agenda

The Washington Times Weekly - - From Page One - By Eric Pfeif­fer

TheNa­tion­alCoun­cilofChurches is be­com­ing fi­nan­cially be­holden to sec­u­lar groups with lib­eral po­lit­i­cal lean­ings, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by a re­li­gious watch­dog or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The In­sti­tute on Re­li­gion and Democ­racy, a group formed by mem­bers of the NCC, says the group ac­cepted the ma­jor­ity of its char­i­ta­ble do­na­tions last year from non­re­li­gious or­ga­ni­za­tions and has been pur­su­ing an agenda that does not mesh with the ma­jor­ity of its church mem­bers, in­clud­ing sup­port for abor­tion and ho­mo­sex­ual “mar­riage.”

“We found nu­mer­ous com­mon themes among the dozens of nonchurch en­ti­ties from which the church coun­cil has re­cently sought or re­ceived fund­ing,” said John Lom­peris,are­searchas­so­ci­ate­with IRD who co-wrote the group’s re­port on the NCC.

“Th­ese groups have very lit­tle demon­strated in­ter­est in re­li­gion be­yond re­cruit­ing faith com­mu­ni­ties to sup­port their fa­vored so­cial and po­lit­i­cal causes.”

Po­lit­i­cally af­fil­i­ated groups who do­nated to the NCC be­tween 2004 and 2005 in­clude the Sierra Club; the Ford Foun­da­tion, which ad­vo­cated for “re­pro­duc­tive rights”; the United Na­tions Foun­da­tion, which is funded by bil­lion­aire me­dia mogul and phi­lan­thropist Ted Turner; and the Con­nect US Net­work, which has ties to Ge­orge Soros’ Open So­ci­ety In­sti­tute, Mr. Lom­peris said.

Mr. Lom­peris says the NCC also ap­plied for a $100,000 grant from MoveOn.org, a lib­eral po­lit­i­cal-ad­vo­cacy group that worked to de­feat Pres­i­dent Bush in the 2004 elec­tion, but has not yet re­ceived any grant money from the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

IRD Vice Pres­i­dent Alan F.H. Wis­dom says the prob­lem lies not with the NCC ac­cept­ing such money, but that the groups who are do­nat­ing it do not re­flect the views of the mem­ber churches.

“The re­li­gious left sim­ply does not have 45 mil­lion peo­ple in the pews on any given Sun­day,” he said. “We’re very clear that it’s not wrong for Chris­tian groups to ac­cept money from foun­da­tions and nonChris­tian or­ga­ni­za­tions.”

The NCC was formed in 1950 with its stated goal be­ing to serve as a bridge be­tween Chris­tian faiths and­com­mu­ni­ties.The­group­claims to rep­re­sent 45 mil­lion Amer­i­can be­liev­ers through its mem­ber churches,which­in­cludes35Protes­tant, Angli­can, Ortho­dox, black and his­toric Chris­tian de­nom­i­na­tions.

NCC staff mem­ber Lind­sey Thune showed up at the IRD press con­fer­ence on Jan. 10 to con­test some of the group’s claims and to ques­tion their own fundrais­ing records.

“Not all of us on staff sup­port abor­tion or gay mar­riage,” Miss Thune said.

Mr. Wis­dom ac­knowl­edged that the IRD re­ceives about 40 per­cent of its fund­ing from private foun­da­tions, in­clud­ing some that are con­sid­ered con­ser­va­tive, in­clud­ing the Adolph Coors Foun­da­tion and the John M. Olin Foun­da­tion.

The IRD says it is less con­cerned with where the fi­nan­cial sup­port for the NCC is com­ing from than in how it is in­flu­enc­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s po­lit­i­cal agenda.

“The con­sid­er­able fi­nan­cial sup­port­nowrun­ning­in­tothe­cof­fer­softhe NCC from such or­ga­ni­za­tions [. . . ] is not be­ing given merely as a form of char­ity,”saidtheRev.JohnM.Reeves, an Ortho­dox priest.

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