Justice in Pieces - Faith in Public Life
Faith in public life is a national coalition of nearly three thousand organizations throughout the United States. One can visit the faith in public life website and play with an interactive map that’s there. On that interactive map you can search by state and obtain a list of all the Faith in Public Life members. Or you can do a national search looking for say all the institutions that have “reproductive” in their title. To understand this progressive political coalition better, the three thousand-member coalitions can be organized into five categories:
- Catholic Organizations - official catholic bodies
- Dissident Organizations- exist actively and deliberately to alter Catholic church teaching. All these organizations are associated with Call to Action. (More on CTA below).
- Other Religious Organizations - member organizations from other religions, usually liberal members. Many have made abortion and homosexual rights denominational policy.
- Community Organizations- Alinskyian organizations and their networks. These organizations are made up of congregations from all denominations. They have an historical and ongoing relationship with Call to Action. They promote liberation theology, progressive political activism, and they often receive funding from the Catholic Church.
- Issue-based Organizations- organizations working for a particular cause. In this category we find a large number of Faith in Public Life members whose only advocacy is to act to secure abortion rights or homosexual rights.
Here we can plug in our own state to discover organizations associated with Faith in Public Life - Faith in Public Life Interactive Map (opens in new window)
There are 44 members found on the Oregon site. To see how this plays out on the local level, I’ll place Oregon’s organizations into the 5 categories mention above. Here are just the (1) Catholic organizations involved with Faith in Public Life:
- Archdiocese of Portland, Office of Justice and Peace
- Catholic Charities of Portland and Baker City
- Catholic Relief Services of Portland and Baker City
So one can see that the institutional Catholic Church of Oregon through its various diocesan offices is actively participating in the work of Faith and Public Life.
In the category of (2) dissident organizations we find two Call To Action Chapters.
- Call To Action Oregon
- Journey-Koinonia Catholic Community
What is Call To Action?
CTA was founded with the express purpose of altering Catholic Church teaching. It has members who are organized expressly to promote abortion rights, homosexual rights, women priests, married priests, liberation theology, creation spirituality, and to politicize catholic parishes. Of this list, some of the issues are internal church matters, some are doctrinally significant, and some have bearing on society’s welfare.
In the category of (3) other religious organizations we find:
Some of these religious organizations such as the Unitarian Universalists have made abortion and homosexual rights denominational public policy. And Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon is lobbying for same sex marriage.
Now it gets really interesting when we turn to (4) community organizations.
Community organizations here are also members of Faith in Public Life. These organizations are ecumenical. These organizations are supported with money from their member religions. The Catholic Church for example takes up an annual collection called the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Over the years the CCHD has given millions of dollars to community network organizations throughout the United States. But this is not just any community organizing. These or networks and organizations developed from the theories and practices of Saul Alinsky. Therefore they are called Alinskyian organizations. As an aside, under the ICWJ, which stands for Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice, Portland Jobs with Justice Religious Outreach Committee includes its own members, it is a coalition, and one such member of this coalition is called Q, which stands for Queer Resource for Social Change. And another member here is the Socialist Party of Oregon. That’s interesting.
Saul Alinsky was a sociologist from Chicago in the early part of the 20thcentury. He was interested in politics and had a Marxist view of the world. Seeing society as a continual battle between what he called the haves and the have-nots. He thought he could teach his principles of organizing to the have-nots in a way to help them attain some of society’s benefits. He created local organizations that identified and trained a leadership to rally groups of people that could go fight city hall.Later, these groups formed a national network called the Industrial Areas Foundation. Today there are several of these networks operating around the United States. Each of them having dozens of local groups with each having there own names. Unfortunately there were some terrible problems with Alinsky’s understanding of these principles. The rules by which he trained his organizers included, “The end justifies any means.” And in the book rules for radicals He devotes an entire chapter to this idea. He wasn’t just speaking off the top of his head he meant it quite earnestly. As practical as that may sound, that the end justifies almost any means, a Catholic in good conscience cannot ascribe to such wickedness.
Alinsky also writes, “Do what you can with what you have and clothe it with moral garments.” That’s where the churches come in. The church has the moral garments. To this end there several religious bodies that have placed themselves at the use of alinskyian organizing. One is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It has developed a strategic plan to integrate alinskyian organizing throughout the denomination. It has done so in order, in it’s own words, to create social change. There is a alinskyian organizer that is helping one of the bishops help implement organizing within the church structure.
The Presbyterian Church USA is going in this direction too, with the evangelical Lutherans. It has signed a joint statement declaring its plans to increase funding for community organizing. To force seminarians to become community organizers, to encourage seminarians to provide, quote: “The theological and biblical foundations for social justice in community organizing. And to tell congregations to use community organizing as the primary strategy for mission.” This isn’t preaching Christ’s Gospel; it’s preaching a man-made social gospel.
But the problem isn’t limited to Christians. The Union of Reform Judaism, a liberal sect of Judaism, now has a social action program to train its congregation in Alinskyian organizing. Run by a Rabbi who has been involved in Alinskyian organization. This is the use of religion, not to serve God, but to further a human agenda. Trying to use God as a diabolical act. To gain an idea into the mind of Alinsky and his works, here is a telling dedication found in the book “Rules for Radicals” written by Saul Alinsky himself:
“Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical; from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins - or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom –Lucifer.”
In the context of Alinsky’s anti-ethics these are extraordinarily and insightful words.
In the Catholic Church the situation isn’t much better, millions of dollars have been raised over the years to support Alinskyian organizing principles and networks. This money comes from the annual Catholic Campaign for Human Development. The campaign was begun in 1970 by progressive Catholic Bishops in the United States. Who sold it as a way to end the vicious cycle of poverty. Publicity material for the CCHD, (the word Catholic was added later on), always stresses the small economic development component. However, only a third of its grants, if that much, go into economic development. The rest has gone into organizing, and most of that into Alinskyian organizing.
Support for Alinskyian organizing was given another boost in 1976. When Catholic Bishops sponsored a Three day Call To Action conference in Detroit, Michigan. This conference brought together delegates from across the United States to ratify eight position papers. Saul Alinsky’sorganizers got involved. One position paper recommended that every parish, quote: “Support a competent ecumenical action group with diocesan resources used to train organizational leaders.” Other position papers proposed that the church establish priorities for public policy, define major election issues, educate the laity on the moral dimensions of these public issues and implement these goals ecumenically. Still other position papers contained specific challenges to the discipline and doctrine of the Church. In the end, the conference approved such resolutions as the ordination of women, married men, female altar servers, the use of artificial birth control; in other words the first Call to Action conference laid down the agenda which continues to be pushed by today’s Call to Action.
How could a conference convened by Catholic bishops and delegates appointed by them be hijacked in this way? The answer lies in part with the efforts of Alinskyian organizing to influence the Church in the United States. Monsignor Jack Egan of Chicago was a long time friend of Saul Alinsky. Mon. Egan was trained with Alinsky, He served as a board member for the Alinskyian foundation Industrial Workers Foundation. And Mon. Egan supported Alinsky’s organizing efforts in Chicago. In addition, Mon. Egan served as co-chair to the 1976 Call to Action conference primary sessions, so the Alinskyian process that drove the conference in 1976 was far from accidental. Furthermore, Mon. Egan remained an outspoken supporter of Call to Action and its continued efforts to alter Church teaching until his death in 2001.
Obviously, the bishops couldn’t ratify the 1976 Call to Action proposals. But, it has been the continued effort of Call to Action to bring about what changes it could. For example, it may not be that every United States Catholic parish supports a competent ecumenical neighborhood action group, but there are thousands who do.
The Call to Action resolution to organize progressive political activism is being accomplished parish by parish. In Oregon, the Alinskyian network works with other groups in the Faith in Public Life coalition to accomplish progressive goals. Here’s an example: One progressive goal is universal healthcare coverage. In Oregon, progressives hope to achieve this goal by 2009 through the Oregon Health Plan; a piece of legislation that accomplishes its objectives by rationing medical services according to pre-determined priorities. Reproductive services is high on that priority list-ranked 6th out of 17. Oregon health plan funds about an third of Oregon’s abortions. And it also funds assisted suicide.
How where these priorities determined and ranked? In 2004 the Metropolitan Alliance for the Common Good, which is your Alinskyian local organization, part of network of the Industrial Areas Foundation, conducted what it termed citizen dialogues around Oregon to identify health care policy options, that the public would support and what they would be willing to negotiate. The results of these dialogues were given to the media, and to civic forums, with the purpose of persuading the citizens of Oregon that health care needed a dramatic systemic overhaul, and therefore to create a willingness to change. In other words, the Alinskyian local was able to manipulate the appearance of widespread support for the Oregon Health Plan.
Other groups had to clothe the Oregon Health Plan in moral garments. For instance, the Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon worked to sell Oregon citizenry the idea that many religious people believe that assisted suicide is really a health service. Therefore, it’s an ethical component to the plan. Still other groups such as the Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice-Jobs with Justice, had the task of getting groups of citizens to the legislature and into the media eye demonstrating support for the Oregon Health Plan during those years when pro-lifers worked to defend against abortion and assisted suicide. The point is, progressives have manipulated support for the Oregon Health Plan with all its good and evil aspects.
There’s one more category in the Faith and Public Life Coalition, these are issue-based, which work to advocate for a particular cause:
Under the sub-heading of progressives in Oregon, we find the Network of Spiritual Progressives in Eugene along with the Interfaith Alliance. The Interfaith Alliance claims, quote, “that it does not take pro or con positions on issues such as abortion, vouchers or gay marriage, but says its primary objective is opposition to the Christian Coalition. However, when you go to its website you can find that it carries the manual “How to win a practical guide to defeating the Radical Right in Your Community.” Who’s the radical right? Who it targets are the pro-lifers; So much for the neutral position.
The Network for Spiritual Progressives is more forthright. It says in a 2005 press release, “The religious right in the U.S. has taken a much more aggressive stance since the reelection of George Bush. Seeking to pack the courts with extremists, escalating the struggle against abortion, rights and civil rights for homosexuals.” And, of course, the solution to this is to work with the Network for Spiritual Progressives.
So far we have looked at the organization in just one state-Oregon. At the state level and national level Faith in Public Life hopes to shape public perception about religious value systems. Especially about abortion and homosexual rights. They want the public to see those rights as moral positions held by many religious people. It seeks to do this in order to neutralize the influence that pro-life and traditional ethics have on political decisions.
To carry out its objectives Faith in Public Life has developed powerful tools: a media and writer’s bureau, frequent press releases, a internet blog, and teleconferences. These work together to promote progressive causes and to hammer the message that anti-abortion and anti-homosexual rights positions are not reflective of mainstream religious sentiment, whether that’s true or not. It’s a subtle but effective message. When challenged, it spokespersons will argue that the common good requires a citizen to address many issues. Therefore they, who supposedly are not two issue voters, like the religious right, claim to be the true representatives of the religious voice in the United States.
Faith in Public life has a number of propaganda vehicles. One is “Voicing Faith” it’s a media bureau. There are a large number of troubling individuals in Voicing Faith. One is Debra haffner whose Religious Institute on Sexual Morality calls for, quote: “A faith-based commitment to sexual and reproductive rights, including access to voluntary contraception and abortion.” It also seeks, quote: “Full inclusion of sexual minorities in congregational life, including the ordination and blessing of same sex unions.” When Haffner speaks for Faith in Public Life, which remember, includes representatives of the Catholic Church, she brings her convictions into her statements. No one in Faith in Public Life suggests her morals are problematic. Catholics on the other hand are told they must not say abortion is a objective moral evil. Rather, they must seek the common ground that they have with pro-aborts. In other words we have a terrible and highly hypocritical double standard designed to bury specific moral positions.
Here’s another way Faith in Public Life is engaging media. It has connected itself to Sojourners Writers bureau, the Red Letter Christian’s. The Red Letter Christians are a network of progressive Christian communicators who will tell you, themselves, quote: “The goal of the group is to advance the message that our faith cannot be reduced to two hot-button issues-abortion and homosexuality.” It’s intimately connected to Faith in Public Life founded by the same man, working with the same people, and they have linked websites.
So, let’s look at two Red Letter Christians:
One is Father Richard Rohr. A Catholic priest from New Mexico. Father Rohr has supported blessing homosexual unions. And has questioned the Church with failing to appreciate the giftedness of the homosexual. He’s also conducted an ecumenically inclusive mass for Faith and Public Life. That means he has confected the Eucharist, the real presence of Christ, and then invited everyone to communion regardless of their religious beliefs or their state of grace.
Another Red Letter Christian is Alexia Kelly whose part of a campaign called “Life does not end at birth”. Challenging, quote: “Those voices who sought to narrowly define Catholic public identity to a few narrow issues.” By which she names, abortion and homosexual.
In other words, here are two Catholics who are working to undermine Catholic teaching about life and morals, in order to advance other issues. Only it isn’t only other “issues”. It’s the same issues-abortion and same sex marriage. The conclusions defy Catholic teaching.
One could find literally hundreds of rhetorical examples where various spokesmen for Faith in Public Life are attempting to shape public discourse about homosexuality and abortion. With so much apparent diversity of faith traditions, and with members within every U.S. state, faith in Public life is well-positioned to be tapped by media looking for the religious perspective when it writes articles are prepares it newscasts. That’s the idea. This is a well-organized effort to seize the microphone and dominate the public discussion.
Examples of rhetoric:
This is a example taken from a march 14th, 2006 Faith in Public Life press release: “We are speaking out today to insure that the voice of religion in Ohio reflects our American diversity and is not co-opted by intolerant voices.” The intolerant voices to which he refers are those who opposed abortion and homosexual rights.
An second rhetorical example concerns Faith in Public Life speaker Kim Bobo, who is the director of the above-mentioned Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice. A news clip made available on the FPL website says that Bobo sees conservative Christian forces monopolizing the morality in politics debate around such issues as abortion rights and same sex marriage. The FPL blog has another rhetorical example, Roland Martin says, “When did it come to the point that being a Christian meant only caring about two issues, abortion and homosexuality.” Well, isn’t there another question that can be asked here? Why isn’t Mr. Martin asking Martin Luther King’s organization, The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, (which is a FPL member), “when did it come to the point that being a Christian meant caring about only one issue, racism?” Obviously this representative blogger for FPL doesn’t really mind that abortion and homosexuality are important issues to some Christians. He cares that some Christians are saying that abortion and homosexuality are wrong.
One last example, keeping mind that there are literally hundreds of rhetorical examples. And also, as we draw down close to the end of this election cycle in November we will find many more such examples of rhetoric coming from FPL in the press. This one comes from a FPL teleconference on October 31st, 2006. Jim Wallis, one of the primary movers behind FPL complained, saying, “Conventional wisdom immediately accepted from the left and the right was that “moral values” was a code for opposition to gay marriage and abortion.” To the media, along with Wallis, Rabbi David Saperstien cautioned, quote: “As you hone your polling questions for this election (2008) we call on you to choose those that will contribute to a more accurate picture of the American electorate, and to clarify and correct once and for all the misinformation generated from the 2004 morals value question. “ In other words, don’t speak to the pro-lifers.
The point is, that Faith in Public Life is very consciously, very deliberately, very craftily, trying to assure that the mainstream media will not equate pro-life with Catholic moral teaching or traditional Christian ethics. But, at the very least, say over and over again to the voter, who well may be a Catholic or Christian, “there are many voices on the issues of abortion and homosexuality and if you vote pro-abortion it’s okay.”It’s not okay.
There are serious flaws with the talking points and sound bites that FPL is repeating over and over through its numerous media outlets. The first is that pro-lifers and those who hold traditional morals values only care about two issues, abortion and homosexuality. I don’t know any pro-lifer who would argue that it doesn’t matter if a woman can afford diapers, if only she gives birth to her baby. Similarly, I don’t know a single progressive who is indifferent to the issues of abortion and homosexuality. Progressives care very deeply about them. In fact, there are hundreds of organizations in FPL engaged in advocacy for the single issue of abortion rights or homosexual rights. The rhetoric being thrown around by the FPL coalition members is meant to confuse and twist the truth. By repeating the lie that all the religious right cares about are the two issues of abortion and homosexuality, progressives hope to change public perception. They want the pro-life positions and morally traditional positions to become associated with the idea of narrow thinking. It must become uncomfortable to be called a pro-lifer, or a conservative, or religious right. The person who fears being labeled a bigot, for example, and has been condemned to associate any opposition to homosexual demands, as bigoted, has been silenced. Even more significantly, if the majority of voters can be made to associate any opposition to homosexual demands as hateful and bigoted, they will be more likely to vote for politicians with pro homosexual policies.
Inherent to this message is that the immoral is okay. That abortion and homosexual rights advocacy is a legitimate ethical position. The proof it offers is that some people of faith support these positions. FPL argues that it seeks to find common ground on these issues. However this is a duplicitous argument. Do FPLanti-racist organizations seek common ground with the Ku KluxClan? Of course not, some positions are morally untenable, wicked, non-negotiable. Similarly, abortion and homosexual acts are intrinsically immoral. Trying to find common ground with those who would murder babies or legalized same-sex unions is similarly an immoral enterprise.
Regardless of its other concerns, Faith in Public Life is an abortion and homosexual rights propaganda vehicle. Regardless of its other issues FPL efforts are directed to generating support for abortion and homosexual rights among religious people.
In summary, Faith in Public life is operating in every state in the union. It’s operating in Oregon. Numerous Catholic groups are part of the Faith in Public Life coalition in your state. Faith in Public Life is attempting to neutralize, to marginalize, to obstruct, and to eventually destroy pro-life and traditional moral values.
The Catholic Church, one of the most consistent voices for pro-life and moral values is a target for this progressive effort. It’s a target because radicals believe they must clothe theircritical goals withmoral garments. And it’s a target because the Catholic Church, by Catholic monies raised in dioceses’, is funding many of its members operating under Alinskyian organizational principles and promoting Faith in Public Life’s progressive political agenda.
Alinskyian organizing, which has a significant presence in the Faith in Public Life coalition has a long standing relationship with Call to Action. A movement which seeks to alter Church teaching.
So what can we do?
Is there anything that the layperson can do to counter this abuse of the Church? Actually, there is quite a bit one can do. The most obvious concerns the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Through this collection Catholics are financially supporting many Faith in Public Life organizations. And through them, supporting issues that directly oppose Catholic Church teaching. The Catholic layperson can consider if donating to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development is worthy of his/her money.
One can also disseminate information about the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, about Faith in Public Life, depending on ones situation in life and talents, as well as through communication networks. You can become activists in defending the faith and Church, sharing contacts with folks in other states who could benefit from this information.
People in authority may be contacted. Send them information and speak to them.
Help such folks financially in their works.
It’s urgent that we get the message out. The short-term goal of Faith and Public Life is to assure that the 2008 presidential election puts progressive politicians into office, with all that that means. The long-term goal of Faith in Public Life is to foster abortion and homosexual rights. Particularly disturbing is that many of Faith in Public Life organizations target the Catholic Church for anti-Catholic purposes, and get Catholics to pay for it.
Please help by linking to this article and/or e-mailing it to all Catholics, Christians and other faith traditions who share traditional moral values in common.
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